Kelowna resident Wayne Wilson paddled to Ottawa, along with others from the Okanagan, to honour Canada’s 150th birthday. - Credit: Contributed

Paddling across Canada to honour sesquicentennial

Residents from Kelowna paddled to Ottawa for the Canada Day celebration

Taking little more than a month to complete their journey, Okanagan residents went on a paddling expedition which ended in celebration; Canada’s 150th celebration.

Around 36 paddlers with three canoes started their journey at Fort St. James in early June on the Stuart River, paddling across Canada to arrive at the birthday bash on Parliament Hill.

“When we finally came down the Ottawa river, down the Rideau Canal, there had to be 40 canoes,” said Kelowna resident Wayne Wilson. “They showed up from everywhere it was wonderful.”

The band took various fur trade routes across Canada and new paddlers joined them as as they made their way east.

During the final leg, around 150 paddles ended up celebrating their journey together, said Wilson. The canoes are traditional voyagers canoe, and reach a length of 25 feet. They can hold six people at a time.

The Red Rogues team had paddlers from the Okanagan, as well as from Vancouver Island, Kaslo, Calgary, Ontario and one from Spokane, Washington. Their red canoe, which is featured on Wilson’s blog, has a home in Vernon.

Many camped in tents, but some brought campers, said Wilson.

The trip left him feeling a little weary. It wasn’t Wilson’s first time across Canada, but it was his first time travelling the country in a canoe.

“I’m always struck at the size and variety of landscapes in Canada,” he said.

The Okanagan paddlers’ first day on the water was June 6, with their grand finale ending July 1.

“We celebrate water and we celebrate First Nations and we celebrate the fur trade,” said organizer Bob Groves, who said the best part of the journey was the celebration.

“We paddled into the very heart of Ottawa and there were all sorts of people cheering and that was quite something… it really impressed our fellow from Spokane.”

The journey was a joint effort. Groves said the Red Rogues, along with two other teams from Rocky Mountain House, Alta. and Manitoba were the only ones to complete the adventure from Fort St. James to Ottawa.

“The teams take care of their own food and equipment,” said Groves, who got involved in voyager canoeing 10 years ago. “We just get together as individual groups, but you know, you’re travelling together.”

It wasn’t the first time Groves honored Canadian history with a paddling trip. In 2011, a group travelled from Invermere to Oreagon along the Columbia River to honor the British-Canadian fur trader David Thompson.

To organize the journey, all he had to do was round up his adventurous paddling acquaintances.

Wilson said the trip could not have been done without the collaboration of others.

“It was a collective effort, like Canada.”

 

Paddlers make their way across the North Saskatchewan River as they paddled across Canada to honour the sesquicentennial. - Credit: Contributed

Just Posted

Day of Remembrance honours road traffic victims

People killed or seriously injured on Canadian roads remembered Sunday in Kelowna

Community Leader Awards: Coach Dean Kennedy

Kelowna Capital News Leader of the Year series on those that give back to the community

Snowfall warning between Merritt and Hope

As much as 20 centimteres of the white stuff is expected along a stretch of the Coquhialla

Double book launch in Kelowna

Authors Sharon Thesen and Erin Moure read from their new works Thursday at library

Westbank Opry announces Christmas show

West Kelowna music fans are encouraged to bring a food donation to help the less fortunate

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

‘An officer and a gentleman’: Const. John Davidson is laid to rest

Thousands attend memorial service for slain Abbotsford Police officer

Making a difference at Okanagan Boys and Girls Club

Kelowna company president rolls up sleeves with local organization

Letter: Is it time to privative ICBC and BC Hydro?

West Kelowna letter-writer says it’s time the government gives up control of the corporations

VIDEO: Coquihalla closed both directions near Merritt

Detours are available via Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 1

VIDEO: The Last Jedi is going to be the longest ‘Star Wars’ movie yet

Newest movie in the franchise will beat Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week.

PHOTOS: Procession and funeral for Const. John Davidson

Thousands attended celebration of life for Abbotsford police officer

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Third debate held Sunday, Nov. 19 at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Most Read