Here is our last film as part of our week-long series of vintage whitewater paddling videos.

Back in the early 1990's Paddle Canada commissioned somebody to produce a video to introduce people to the quintessential Canadian activity of canoeing. For many years it got lost in the Paddle Canada backroom but sadly it was found and has now seen the light of day.

Highlights of this video gem include a serious fashion disaster in the form hot pink pants, lots of hockey helmets and a soundtrack would be equally at home either in a corporate training video or a porn film.

You can watch "Canoe Canada" below:

Published in Funny

I'm really excited to let you know about an upcoming Paddle Canada Level-3 kayaking course being offered at the end of September here in Ontario.

Running September 25-29, the course is being organized by myself and Ray Boucher in partnership with White Squall Paddling Centre and will take place in Georgian Bay (just north of Toronto).

Paddle Canada Level-3 further develops your skills for undertaking multi-day trips in open water conditions. Some of the topics we will be covering include trip planning, rescues, towing, inaccessible shoreline launching, advanced navigation, weather mysteries revealed, risk management, decision making, leadership among peers and other nerdy stuff.

This course is going to be unique in that we are planning to work our way out to a very small set of islands in southern Georgian Bay collectively called The Westerns. They lie about 12 kilometers offshore. To accomplish our goal (and if the weather cooperates), we will work through the planning and the decision making process of undertaking a major crossing like that.

Speaking of the Westerns, they are easily the most remote group of islands on Georgian Bay and very few boaters and even less kayakers ever make it out to.

The price of the 5-day course is $595+taxes. We need at least 4 people to make it run so our cut-off go/no go date for the course is September 15th. If you are looking for a challenge, contact the White Squall office and they can get you signed up.

If you have any questions, please feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We hope to see you there!


Published in General News

Paddle Canada LogoBack at the end of January I had the pleasure to be invited to attend a strategic planning meeting for Paddle Canada. I got invited because I’m the Chair of the Sea Kayak Program Development Committee. The goal of the weekend meeting was to develop a 3-year plan and it already had a catchy title: Float Plan for Success.

The reason for the meeting came about because the Board of Directors felt the organization was just about to enter a new phase in the life of the Organization. For those who studied the long and sometimes weird boring history of Paddle Canada will remember several years ago when the Organization had major financial trouble that left it hanging on for dear life. Thanks to good leadership at the top who made some tough choices, Paddle Canada has come back stronger than ever and is now ready to tackle some new projects.

Overall the weekend was a lot of fun (as fun as strategy development can be I guess) and filled with lots of fellow paddling policy wonks nerds like me who were happy to chat the days (and evenings) away talking about how to turn all Canadians into paddlers.

A couple of days ago Executive Director, Graham Ketcheson posted a pdffinished report about some of the changes you will see over the next 3-4 years. If you are bored already the short summary is that the new strategic plan isn’t ground breaking but it is a change in direction for the organization.

Here are a couple of highlights:

1) New Vision and Mission Statements
The new Vision and Mission Statements have a stronger focus on the development of its paddling instructional programs and the development of complementary partnerships with other organizations.

2) Strategic Priorities and Goals
After hours of brainstorming as a group we boiled down the ideas into four major categories which are Public Awareness & Membership, Youth, Partnerships and Instructor Development.

  • Public Awareness & Membership
    Paddle Canada is seen publicly as the authority for safety and education for paddling. Paddlers and organizations value membership in Paddle Canada.

    This one isn’t rocket science. We want to make more Canadians aware that a) Paddle Canada exists and b) we are the experts for all things recreational paddling. This will likely mean the development of more public awareness campaigns and membership drives, etc.
  • Youth
    Paddle Canada engages youth to participate in recreational paddle sports and to grow a vibrant Canadian paddling community.

    Paddle Canada supports youth in healthy lifestyle choices and appreciation of the natural environment.

    This just makes sense. We need to focus stronger on Canadian youth if we want more people paddling tomorrow. Look for youth focused programs to be developed and stronger partnerships with organizations that already have inroads with youth.
  • Partnerships
    “New and existing Paddle Canada partners support and promote common goals and values.

    Paddle Canada's goal is to: Strengthen and grow relationships with new and existing partners, in order to support the Paddle Canada Vision.”

    It’s a lot easier to work with friends rather than strike out on your own and from what I hear; Paddle Canada is often approached with partnership proposals so over the weekend they were able to develop a rough framework to help decide which proposals to explore further.

    For example, a very interesting project that Paddle Canada has been working on is the development of new water safety programs with AdventureSmart. AdventureSmart is a national program to encourage Canadians to “Get informed and go outdoors” by offering online resources as well as instruction to small groups like Scouts, school groups, hunting clubs, etc.

    They offer a wide variety of safety programs to kids and adults alike such as Hug-A-Tree, Survive Outside Program (trip planning and basic survival) and Snow Safety. 
  • Instructor Development
    Paddle Canada is seen publicly as the authority for safety and education for paddling. Paddlers and organizations value membership in Paddle Canada.

    Some of the proposed projects here include the development of new teaching resources for instructors as well as getting all of our manuals translated into French.


That does this all mean for Paddle Canada?
There are a couple of advantages to formalizing a strategic plan. As I mentioned earlier, none of these were ground-breaking revelations or direction changes. What it does do is to make sure that the members of the Board of Directors are on board with the new plan and everybody has bought in. The second (and more important) outcome of it is that the Board has developed a clear set of “marching orders” for the Executive Director to take and figure out how to implement over the next 3-4 years. This gives him a lot more freedom to work with people and grab the opportunities as they come along without wondering what the board thinks about this new direction.

What does this mean for you as a member or instructor member?
It means that there is going to be a whole lot more work coming down the pipe for the volunteers so we will need your help. If you have 10 minutes of free time on your hands and are interested in helping out, get in touch with Graham and he can set you up.

More info:

Published in Industry Stuff

keen footwear logo

Not sure if anybody noticed it or not but buried at the bottom of the latest Paddle Canada instructor newsletter was the announcement of a very cool new benefit for instructors.

Paddle Canada Canada and Keen Canada Footwear have partnered up and are now offering instructors 40% off the suggested retail price of their entire line of which includes watershoes, sandles, shoes and hiking boots.

This goes along with all the other discounts available from companies like Red Cross, Sirius Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medical Associates, Northwater, Outdoor Research, and Level Six.

Sadly the Keen deal is only limited to one pair of shoes each year so choose wisely. You can find all the details on the Paddle Canada website.

Published in Industry Stuff

Paddle Canada Logo

I wanted to let Paddle Canada sea kayak and SUP instructors know that the deadline for the training bursary is fast approaching and you only have until the end of March, 2012 to get your application in.

From the Paddle Canada website:

For several years now Paddle Canada has been awarding bursaries to instructors looking to further the sea kayaking and SUP programs in Canada. The intention is to help defray certification or travel costs for instructors coming from or organizing courses in underfunded areas throughout Canada.

There isn't a huge pilce of cash to give away but $300 for sea kayak instructors and $500 for SUP instructors will go a little way towards covering your transportation costs.

If you are interested, take a look at the links below for the fine print and application details.

SUP Bursary
Sea Kayak Bursary

Published in Industry Stuff

 Paddle Canada and Rapid Media Logos

After keeping it under my hat for four months (a record for me), I’m finally able to announce that after 30+ years, Paddle Canada has decided to get out of the magazine publishing industry and shut down Kanawa magazine. Instead, Paddle Canada has decided to partner with Rapid Media and offer their collection of magazines to its members. Rapid Media puts out Rapid, Canoeroots, Adventure Kayak and Kayak Angler.

I think that this is a fantastic partnership for a couple of reasons. Firstly it allows Paddle Canada to finally dump Kanawa magazine which I have not been a huge fan of for quite a while. To me it has been limping along on life-support for several years. Of course it goes without saying that it’s always sad to see any magazine die, especially a magazine that has been around for 30 years. But not to worry; they are going to publish Kanawa as a quarterly newsletter that will come inserted in the Rapid Media magazine of your choice.

This partnership is also a win for both organizations because for the first time they are no longer in direct competition with each other. Fir the first time they can work together on projects for the betterment of paddling in Canada. The brainstorming has already started I have heard rumours of several future projects that have awesome potential but we can chat about them on another day.

Rapid Media is no stranger to partnering with other paddling organizations. Right around this time last year they announced a very similar partnership when the American Canoe Association decided to stop publication of their 20-year-old magazine, Paddler.

Full disclosure, I’m quite involved with both groups so I’m completely biased but had no say in any decisions. I sit as chair of the Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Program Development Committee and do some web design for Rapid Media.

Published in Industry Stuff

BCU 5* Training. Photo credit:

If you are looking to get some more sea kayak training under your belt before the 2011 paddling season ends, check out the duo certification course going on this October in Nova Scotia. Partnering together, Coastal Adventures and Committed 2 the Core are offering a Paddle Canada Level 3/4 and BCU 5* training course October 1-5.

The first 3 days will be spend on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia working on navigation, rock hopping, on water leadership, surfing and tidal paddling.

The last 2 days will be spent on the Shubie tidal bore learning about advanced tidal paddling, rescues, tide race paddling and more leadership activities.

The coaching staff includes Scott Cunningham (Paddle Canada Level 4 Instructor Trainer), Christopher Lockyer aspirant level 4 coach and guest coach Nick Cunliffe who is a BCU level 5 sea coach.

Nick’s name might be familiar. He is the same coach on the Kayak Essential’s kayak instruction DVD series that I reviewed last week.

If you are interested in participating, you had better jump on it soon as registration closes August 25th and there are currently only two spots left.

The cost is $900 which includes food, camping, a course manual, Paddle Canada certification fees and coaching.

There is the registration info.

Photo credit:

Published in Events

Paddle Canada Logo

Paddle Canada has just announced that wilderness first providers, Wilderness Medical Associates, The Canadian Red Cross and Sirius Wilderness Medicine have been added to the Instructor Support Program.

Starting now, instructor members will now get a 10% discount on all wilderness medicine course fees as well as 20% discount on all first aid supplies purchased through the Canadian Red Cross online store.

I think this is a fantastic addition to the program which has grown exponentially over the past year and a bit. Paddle Canada instructor members also get discounts from Northwater, Outdoor Research, Level Six as well as a discounted camping rate at the American Canoe Association's Sugar Island, on the St. Lawrence River in Ontario.

You can find all the details around instructor members benefits on the Paddle Canada website.

Congrats to Graham and his little team of volunteers for putting this together.

Published in Industry Stuff

Canoe Canada Video Capture

My friend Graham was digging around through some off-site storage at the Paddle Canada world headquarters when he stumbled upon a box of ancient VHF tapes labelled Canoe Canada. For the young kids out there; VHS was a format long before DVD’s that was good for movie rentals or to record that episode of The Dukes of Hazard you missed because you had to work Friday nights at McDonalds. But I digress...

Not owning an actual VHS player; Graham shipped it off to the closest person he knew who had one which actually happened to be ½ way across the Canada in Alberta. The video was converted over to DVD and uploaded for your viewing pleasure.

Canoe Canada Video Capture

Canoe Canada was a ½ instruction ½ canoe promotion video that was funded by Paddle Canada and the Canadian National Search and Rescue Secretariat.

Not sure of the exact date but we figure that Canoe Canada was produced in around the very late 1980’s or early 1990’s so it’s a great opportunity to see some really classic camping and paddling gear. I haven’t seen so much plaid jackets and bushy beards since...well, yesterday since they are both back in style with the cool kids here in Toronto.

Here is the intro below to whet your appetite. When you are done, click through to the Paddle Canada site to see the last three parts. It’s some classic footage indeed.

Published in Video

Paddle to the Ocean Route Map

Special thanks to Costain for filling me in on a really great expedition going on right now. Several Paddle Canada sea kayak and white water instructors got together and organized a three month trip paddling from Beachburg, Ontario to Halifax, Nova Scotia via several rivers including the Ottawa River, St. Lawrence River and the St. John River. The total distance will be almost 1500km (including 216km which will be done on bicycle). The best part of the trip is that 0km will be done using gas.

The Paddle to the Ocean expedition has several purposes. Firstly it is a memorial for Corey Morris who died on a Nova Scotia river in 2009. Corey always encouraged people to get outside and be active which leads into their second goal for the expedition. They are raising funds and awareness for the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) and the Nova Scotia Heart & Stroke Foundation (NS H&SF). The Making Tracks (EAC) program is a program designed to encourage parents & children to walk & bike to school & throughout their community and the Heart & Stroke Walkabout (NS H&SF) is a provincial initiative designed to teach people how to walk more in their daily lives.

All funds raised by Paddle to the Ocean will be split between these two programs.

Like every good expedition, they are using filmmaking to help tell the story. The trip started back on May 1 and they have just posted their first update which you can view below. The short film has them paddling down the Ottawa River ploughing through the Class IV white water in a sea kayak. You need to see it to believe it.

Published in Trips
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Strategic partner

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