Paddlequest 2012 hits the waves 0
Area canoeists and river enthusiasts dipped their paddles into the historic Ottawa River Sunday, as the ninth edition of Paddlequest got underway.
While it started out cloudy, the sun quickly burned its way through the haze, and the participants had gentle winds and calm waters to help them in their journey.
This is the eighth time the event was held from Petawawa Point to Pembroke's Riverside Park - with a short break at Pine Ridge Park - where 80 participants took to the water in canoes, kayaks and other human powered watercraft for a 15 km trek down one of Canada's earliest transportation routes. Once they hit the beach, the paddlers made a short hike over to Miramichi Lodge for a deluxe voyageur dinner by Ullrich's, where they rested sore muscles and shared stories of the day's travels.
Throughout the paddle, the river travelers were escorted by a small flotilla of rescue boats, manned by the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP, the Petawawa Fire Department, the Pembroke Fire Department and 2 Combat Engineer Regiment. Radio communications was again provided by the volunteers of the Amateur Radio Emergency Services Group, or ARES.
The event, held on Canadian Rivers Day, is meant to draw attention to the Ottawa River, its heritage, and its important historic role in the development of Canada, and as a promotion of it to assist in seeing it receive a Canadian Heritage Rivers designation. It also serves as a fundraiser for the Miramichi Lodge Foundation, which oversees improvements to the lodge and its programs for the benefit of its residents.
There was no local event in 2009 as both the Paddlequest committee and the Ottawa River Heritage Designation Committee with the Ottawa River Canoe Brigade were invited by Parks Canada to participate in the national activities in Ottawa for Canadian Rivers Day. The group paddled on the Ottawa River by the nation's capital from Victoria Island to Petrie Island.
Larry Graham, who with his wife Netty and Fred Blackstein co-founded the event, said this remains a powerful way for people to connect to the river, which has an important place in the hearts of those who live along it.
"Canada honours its leading rivers by declaring them Canadian Heritage Rivers," he said, "and it was an honour to paddle the Ottawa River today."
Shelley Sheedy, Miramichi Lodge administrator, said the event went well, with the weather cooperating, and almost 100 people in total registering, both paddlers and those taking part in the meal afterwards. She said approximately $3,000 in net proceeds was raised by this year's Paddlequest.
Mrs. Sheedy said the event is the brainchild of the Grahams, and also wanted to recognize Mr. Blackstein who has assisted in the organization at every Paddlequest event, including the co-ordination of fire, police and emergency communication personnel to ensure a safe paddle for everyone.
Speaking as she took part in Paddlequest, Andrea McNeil, manager of the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board Secretariat, Parks Canada, said it is important on a day like this day to remember how important rivers are, and how they are often the heart of their communities.
"This is a day to take some time out and celebrate the river," she said, which she was doing with her husband and children. "This is also a wonderful way of promoting the Ottawa River and its heritage."
Mrs. McNeil said the Canadian Heritage Rivers System has relaunched its photo contest from last year, in partnership with Canoeroots and Family Camping Magazine, as a way to promote Canada's rivers.
The Experience Canadian Heritage Rivers Photo Contest encourages those visiting a Canadian Heritage River this summer to take some photos and enter the Experience Canadian Heritage Rivers photo contest. Categories include Canadian Heritage Rivers and Family, Canadian Heritage Rivers and Nature, Canadian Heritage Rivers and Cities and Canadian Heritage Rivers and Adventure.
The contest runs from May 15, 2012 to Oct. 31, 2012.
Winning photos will be featured in the Spring 2013 issue of Canoeroots and Family Camping magazine and will tour with the 2013 Reel Paddling Film Festival.
For further information, follow the link at www.canoerootsmag.com/chrsphotocontest.
Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist