The Path of the Paddle, the group building our little piece of the TransCanada Trail, kicked off Canada 150 with a paddle on April 14. Six canoe-loads of keen paddlers set out from Sapawe and made their way down to Little Falls. And a separate group filling eight canoes paddled from Bunnell Park to Steep Rock Lake.
“We wanted to have something happening every month over the spring and summer,” said Chris Stromberg, who was part of the upper river group. Better than expected April weather (until last week, at least), led the group to put out the call for a Good Friday paddle. They enjoyed excellent conditions, as the temperature climbed to seventeen degrees.
Next up is the season opener of the Path of the Paddle route on Saturday, May 27. This will be a paddle from Bunnell Park (marshalling at 10 am) to Legion Point, with an official ribbon cutting at there at 11:30 am. Everyone is welcome to partake as either a canoeist or a spectator.
“When we started planning, we called around and there was nothing doing on the 27th,” said Linda Braun, a member of the Path of the Paddle group. “Since then, we see there is lots going on!”
The paddle is tying in the Show n’ Shine (the Vintage Iron Auto Club’s Main St. show) in its promotion. That will get underway shortly after the ribbon cutting. (There will also be MX racing and the refugee dinner on the 27th).
The group has invited the Outers to join in this paddle; Outers is a partner with the group, and does regular trail maintenance work. But it might be tough to get them out that morning; friday is prom night.
“We hope they will be represented at the ribbon cutting,” said Braun.
The Atikokan chapter of the Path of the Paddle handles the trail from Nym Lake to Clearwater Lake, and is doing very well; it is even a little ahead of many of its sisters organizations across the country.
“We have a pretty strong committee,” said Braun. It is headed by Michelle Savoie of Voyageur Wilderness Programme. “We have our trail fully established, partnerships set up with a number of other groups, and an ongoing trail maintenance program.”
The group is looking at a couple of opportunities for a June event: some sort of tie-in with the Outers 12-day, and/or a tie-in with a visiting Japanese television crew. They’ve contacted the group looking for a guide to enjoy a paddle adventure here as part of a cross-Canada tour it’s host, a prominent wrestler, is planning.
“At the very least Atikokan will get some coverage int he Japanese market for paddling stuff. That’s pretty cool,” said Braun.
In July, the group plans to participate in the Canada Day canoe parade. And in August it is teaming up with Quetico Park to plan a paddle and shindig at Legion Point. They hope to host a Native drum and local musicians.
The Path of the Paddle and the heart of the Continent Partnership have teamed up to hire an intern, through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, to work over the next year promoting both efforts. The intern will be based here starting next week, working from the Saturn Ave. government office.
There does seem to be more going on on the American side of the border in the Heart of the Continent Partnership, but that’s only to be expected given its far bigger population, and far greater number of partner organizations.
“There are so many little towns on the American side, and on this side it’s basically Fort Frances, Atikokan, and Thunder Bay,” said Stromberg, HoCP coordinator.
“But Atikokan really stands out just for that reason,’ he continued. “As long as Atikokan continues to do its part to let everyone know what’s is here, that will continue.”
Having the intern working here, in the same office at Quetico Park headquarters, has got to help. And having a unique working trail ready to go for Canada 150 will, too.
“I expect the intern will have way more work than a year’s worth,” said Braun. “This should bring us – Path of the Paddle and HoCP – together even more.”