This will be the last newsletter before our brigades commence in a few days. We are pleased to report that we have six closely affiliated brigades working with us this summer, and another half dozen events we are sharing marketing with. There are opportunities to paddle Big CANOES across most of Canada. At present we have nearly 500 participants registered to participate in our six primary brigades. Brigade updates are further along. First let me remind folks that some brigades are full, some are closed, and our remaining registration deadlines are:
Sunshine Coast – closed –
Athabasca River Canoe Brigade – Closed
Fort Edmonton Canoe Brigade – open to June 10th for Big Canoes
Canada Day Paddle for tandem canoes & kayaks – open to June 15
Metis Crossing Paddle & Camp-out for tandem canoes & kayaks – open to June 18
South Wind / Rideau Canal Canoe Brigade – open to June 8
Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Brigade – open to June 17
St. John River – Wolastog Brigade – open to June 9
Further information is of course available on the CVBS website here. And we do expect to shortly provide links to the various blogs, and facebook pages for the brigades so that folk can follow the ongoing reports from the brigade paddlers.
Now the up-dates:
Sunshine Coast Canoe Journey (June 13 to 18)
Our Sunshine Coast Canoe Journey is 1 week away, and the committee has had their final meeting to fine tune our itinerary! We look forward to meeting new friends and share our love of West Coast Voyageur paddling. The journey will take place on the waters of Sechelt and Squamish First Nations, which will allow us to honour our cultural differences. Media will be traveling with the canoes to produce a documentary. The theme of the journey will celebrate Canada 150+ in recognition of the years the First Nations people held the land before us.
“ The canoe is a symbol unique to Canada. It is one of the greatest gifts of the First Peoples to all those who came after.
It is the most powerful symbol joining the Native Peoples to the two founding cultures of Europe – French and English.
It is a symbol of exploration and discovery, of individual courage and of partnership, of heroic enterprise and of quiet harmony with Nature.
The canoe is a symbol of our history, and it is a symbol of our future ; a symbol of confidence and community – paddling toward a renewed Canada.”
The Canoe in Canadian Culture- by Editor John Jennings
Athabasca River Canoe Brigade (June 22 to 28)
The Athabasca River Brigade group has over 170 paddlers registered in 15 boats preparing to paddle 333 kms over 6 days on the Athabasca River, from scenic Jasper to historic Ft. Assiniboine. This is one of many voyageur canoe brigades operating in Canada this summer to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, We will be reenacting the Voyageur fur-trading trips of the past on this portion of the COLUMBIA EXPRESS route. Each canoe will be flying a flag representing the parts of Canada.
The brigade journey from June 22 to June 28, 2017 will be educational, fun and memorable in so many ways. We will engage with the communities along the trip. We’ll be paddling through changing scenery, first Rocky mountains. then true wilderness in the foothills, ending in parkland forest and farmland near Ft. Assiniboine. The paddle program involves early daily starts, but leaves much time to celebrate with communities en route and to socialize amongst the paddlers at campsites in Jasper, Hinton, Whitecourt and Ft. Assiniboine (all 2 night stays except one night in Ft. Assiniboine). The planned activities include “right to land” ceremonies with black musket firings, paddling teams in traditional dress and sharing of aboriginal and voyageur storys and song. We will enjoy entertainment as follows:
— First Nation entertainer Matrician Brown at Jasper launch ceremony/lunch. (no public invited–media, dignataries and paddlers)
— Historic plaques unveiling/lunch at Brule look-out.
—Traditional French Canadians Les Bucherons in Hinton at Maxwell Lake/Beaver Boardwalk.
—Metis folk/country performer Laura Vinson in Whitecourt at Rotary Park.
—Singer/storyteller Michael Mitchell and world class fiddler Calvin Vollrath join Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell at closing events in historic Ft. Assiniboine.
The memories of this trip will be preserved in a 80 page professionally compiled photo book available for order (during brigade), and a scroll of all paddling participants will be signed and hang in the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough Ontario.
This brigade trip is made possible by the incredible volunteer efforts of many on our committee and others. The support of Mark Lund and the Canadian Voyageur Brigade Society has been outstanding. We are also so grateful for the many government grants and corporate contributions. Be sure to thank everyone along the way.
Chairperson-Athabasca River Brigade -2017
Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Brigade (June 29 to July 3)
The Sault Ste. Marie Brigade consists of 3 north and 1 montreal canoes
We have completed two “practice” paddling events, 12 members of the brigade have stretched their muscles and refreshed their skills in that veritable “ballet” that is the dextrous manoevering of a north canoe.
We are participating in a couple of “ribbon cutting events” to open access points on the Lake Superior Water Trail (a part of the Trans Canada Trail). First event is June 9 at Gros Cap. The big canoes will deliver the dignitaries to the access point.
Looking forward to the big event starting June 28 at Batchewana Bay. On July 29 we visit Batchewana First Nation and camp at Goulais River. We arrive in Sault Ste Marie on the evening of June 30 and on July 1 the brigade passes through the Sault Ste. Marie Canal as part of Parks Canada and the Sault Ste. Marie Conservations Authority “Parade of Paddles”. Later that day we participate in “History Fest” at the Ermatinger/Clergue National Historic Site. We’ll camp at Ojibway Park at Garden River First Nation that evening and head to Fort St. Joseph National Historic site for their “Rendevous 150” on July 3rd.
We are working on the many small but important planning items…we are camping en route…so just planning the meals is a big deal.
Fort Edmonton Canoe Brigade (June 29 to July 3)
This brigade is coming together nicely. We’ve had tremendous cooperation from our communities and supporting groups. At present we should end up with about ten Big CANOE crews, and then a modest number of paddlers in our two tandem canoe and kayak events: our Canada Day Paddle on July 1, and our Metis Crossing Paddle and Campout on July 2 & 3. We suspect this maybe the best fed brigade of paddlers, catered meals every evening, and two of the breakfasts! But some of these have to be earned… nearly 80 km to paddle on the longest day (July 2). There is still room! But registration closes soon!
South Wind – Rideau Canal Canoe Brigade (June 23 to July 1)
Fourteen canoes registered the last time Max checked in! And arrangements were developing nicely for all along the Rideau Canal and for camping in the Ottawa area over the Canada Day weekend. Ottawa area paddlers are welcome to drop-in informally, and join the brigade for the paddle through Ottawa on Canada Day.
St. John River – Wolastoq Brigade (July 15 to 22)
The first brigade in Atlantic Canada is close to capacity – 11 crews are ready to go with just one spot left. We still have room for some individual paddlers as crews fill in their rosters. This brigade, with the help of our partner, the St. John River Society, and our sponsors, McCains and Cooke Aquaculture, will see plenty of wonderful scenery and experience the hospitality of the St. John River Valley. Our opening ceremony in Florenceville-Bristol will be part of the Canada-NB 150 celebration and we will feature performances by the Muskrat Drummers and Singers as well as Krista Dawn Paul to highlight the importance of this river to the First Nations of the area.
Other highlights will be community suppers in Woodstock, Nackawic, and Gagetown and of course our welcome to the city of Fredericton by the Lieutenant-Governor Jocelyne Roy Vienneau. Her Honor has invited the Brigade to camp on the lawn of Government House. And to close the brigade, we will have a banquet in Saint John and then paddle through the Reversing Falls into the city harbour. Of course, in the Maritime tradition, there will be music and entertainment along the route.
Confederation Brigade (PEI) July 23-27
This will be a low key event with likely five to six canoes and no formal events planned. We have just received permission to paddle near the Confederation Bridge that connects NB and PEI across the Northumberland Strait. That will be followed by two day paddles on the West River and the Hillsborough River. Camping has been booked in the Cavendish area. This will truly be a paddle with friends with no formality, just some good paddling and stories around the campfire. Registration is by individual and information will be sent out shortly to all those who have expressed interest.
In closing we should mention all the training that many paddlers are undertaking to get ready for these brigades. I have been getting reports of folks out on the water from the west through to the east. Here is a rescue practice from an Athab’ Brigade training session held just last week. Best to practice these in controlled circumstances first!
Chair, 2017 CVBS