St. John River Brigade General Plan & Schedule

Last updated 2016 Oct 24

Dates: July 15 to July 22, 2017

Location: Saint John River beginning at Florenceville through to Saint John Harbour, New Brunswick (299 km).

Why:  To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in the many communities along the route, to celebrate the heritage of the Saint John River, and to introduce the sport of canoe brigading to this part of Canada.

Big Canoes: The brigade will be organized by canoe crews of 9-12 paddlers.  Each crew will arrange for a replica big canoe of 22 to 36 feet, which will normally be crewed by 6-10 paddlers at a time.  Crews will normally carry a complement of 9-12 members, with the non-paddlers each shift looking after camp and travel chores.  Normally paddling and support chores are equally shared by all crew members. Members normally paddle approximately a ½ day shift, each day.  In smaller crews, some members may be able to paddle, or may have to paddle, all day on some days.

Smaller Paddle Craft:  Smaller craft will be allowed to accompany the brigade but the organization of these craft will be the responsibility of local groups.  The SJR Brigade organizers will work with local groups in terms of schedules and information sharing but administration and liability will rest with the local groups.

Brigade Organizer Responsibilities: Brigade organizers will be responsible for setting the schedule, registering crews and paddlers, assuring the Safety Plan is followed, booking camp sites, coordinating events with the local communities and facility operators.   The Brigade organizers will assist individual paddlers in finding crews to paddle with, and will assist small crews with finding additional paddlers.

Canoe Crew Responsibilities: Individual canoe crews and their crew captain will be responsible for assembling and registering their crews, arranging transportation for the crews throughout the brigade, providing paddling gear, camp gear and group cooking supplies & gear.  Paddlers new to brigading should read the 2011 David Thompson Columbia Brigade Paddlers Manual as prepared by Ted Bentley, though in reading remembering this was prepared for an international brigade of some 45 days long. A link for this can be found on the CVBS information page.  We have requests for, and opportunities to present and display the skills and character of brigade paddling; all paddlers and crews will be expected to assist and partake in these events and celebrations.

Individual Crew Member Responsibilities:  Those who participate, or wish to participate, in the 2017 SJR Brigade also have responsibilities: first to find a crew to join, or to assist in forming in a crew.  Each individual participant most do their best to help share the crew work load, whether in the preparations for the brigade, in paddling on the brigade, in camp, or providing support when not paddling; or helping the crew to contribute to the overall success of the brigade with assigned brigade duties, such as clearing campsites and ensure they have been left in better condition than found on arrival.  Participants must also be diligent is submitting the required paperwork (membership and waiver) and fees to and through their crew leader to the brigade registrar.

Fees & Registration:  This brigade is being budgeted on a break even basis at $2000 per crew for the full brigade.  This fee covers the cost of camping, organization of the events, some memorabilia, and some meals along the route (details will be supplied as events are confirmed).  Crews are responsible for supplying their own canoes and paddling and safety equipment.  The organizing committee will assist crews in finding canoes by supplying information on rental availability.  Crews will also be responsible for their transportation during the brigade, personal food and entertainment expenses during the brigade, and personal travel costs to and from the brigade.  Travel and food during the brigade will be organized by each paddling crew and costs will vary by crew choices.    A final invoice for teams will be sent in early May after initial registration is completed and deposits have been received, and final catering and campsite costs are determined.

 We expect Registration to open in late November and a maximum of twelve crews (about 140 paddlers) will be accepted for the brigade.  A deposit of $500 per crew will be required to reserve your place and the deposit will be non-refundable unless a replacement crew is found.  Final registration will be due April 1, 2017 by which time we will know the final costs.  Registration fees are now set at $2000 per crew.  Any profit will go towards the promotion of the sport in the future. 

Other Considerations:

1 – The 2017 SJR Brigade is not a competitive event. The canoe brigade will be required to travel en masse every day, following a lead canoe and forward of a sweeper canoe.

2 – Brigade leadership during the event will be shared between crews. Crew Leaders will share the daily chore of Brigade Governor, and crew members the brigade chores of “first arrival at next camp”,en route signage for ground crews, and “last to depart” camp chores.

3 – Ground Crew volunteers – some crews in past brigades have been so fortunate as to have their own support volunteers. These folk fully participate in all non-water activities and generally cost the brigade the same as paddlers. Normally the brigade fee for such volunteers is paid for by the paddling members of the crew so that there is no cost to the support volunteer(s). This is an important matter for your crew to consider.

4 – Crews or folks travelling with RVs that require individual campsites will be charged a premium so as to cover the additional cost.

4 – Young Paddlers – One of the goals of our brigades is pass on our skills and love of paddling and we will do our best to accommodate young paddlers.  Such young folk should have the motivation and stamina to paddle a complete shift or so each day and are best included with supportive family members.  If you have young family members you would like to include you should connect with the organizing committee to discuss and confirm participation.

7 – Paddle Canada Big Canoe Leader certification – All crews are encouraged to have a number of members certified as Paddle Canada Big Canoe Leaders.  If there is adequate interest we may provide a Big Canoe Leader (Intermediate) course prior to the brigade.

Proposed Brigade Schedule

July 15   Registration and Safety briefings at Florenceville

July 16   Florenceville to Woodstock                                       44 km

July 17   Woodstock to Nackawic                                             48 km

July 18   Nackawic to Fredericton                                            25 km (canoes will need to be trailered around the Mactaquac Dam)

July 19   Fredericton to Gagetown                                           60 km   

July 20   Gagetown to Oak Point                                              40 km

July 21   Oak Point to Saint John                                              37 km

July 22   Paddle thru Reversing Falls to Saint John

                City Centre                                                                  16 km     


Be sure to check back on this plan, this is the initial plan and we expect that as plans develop further, and questions are answered, there will be additions with important information.