Spencer Meany and XY Paddle Co. were named the Tramin Ambassador award winners at the Chamber of Commerce award gala May 18.
After a four-year apprenticeship, Spencer Meany officially took over XY Paddle Co. in 2003, and ever since has carried on the business with style and elan and his father’s commitment to craftsmanship and heritage awareness.
Everyone who has seen Spencer in action at the One of a Kind Show in Toronto has come away impressed and delighted with his passion for paddling, for our great Canadian heritage, and for his home town on the Shield, Atikokan. The care and pride that goes into each and every XY Paddle is as true as the man.
It takes about ten to twelve hours of work to produce one of XY’s classic bent-shaft paddles, longer if inlay is involved. To its credit, the market has recognized the art in this work.
“The Toronto market especially, has really pushed that side of things. So many people there see these paddles as works of art,” he says.
It’s been a bit of an adjustment – “These are paddles made to work” – but Spencer has bowed to his customers desires. And although he won’t produce a ‘special edition signed’ paddle, when he really nails a piece of work, he will sign it. And the big city art aficionados eat that up, even at premium prices.
Spencer first brought Atikokan to greater attention as a hockey player, blazing a trail by heading east and then south to play – Evan Krassey played with his old Junior squad, the St. Mary’s Lincolns. Spencer was drafted by the NHL – he remains the only Atikokanite who can make that claim – and played four years of NCAA hockey and three years of pro hockey in the East Coast League.
He has regularly pitched in with minor hockey and for several years coached the women during their hockeyville days. I remember being impressed with the way he had the women cycling the puck in the offensive zone – usually that’s a skill that comes with missing teeth.
And, of course, for seven years he was the main driver of the Canoe Splash, the international canoe race on Steep Rock Lake and the Atikokan River that highlighted our Canada Day festivities.
Jim Marohnic operates a renovation and construction company, and is in constant demand for projects ranging from commercial building repairs and maintenance to residential renovations and additions. Typically, he employs a couple of assistants; sometimes more for the bigger projects. Jim has been running his own business for twelve years, but has been involved in the industry for over thirty years.
The nominator praised his work for its consistently high quality and Jim’s attention to all of the finer details, and said he has added immeasurably to the overall attractiveness of our community.
Lois Fenton came to Atikokan as curator of the Centennial Museum in the fall of 2014, with a degree in history from York University, and a Masters in Public History from the University of Western Ontario in London.
That focus on public history is reflected in unique exhibits like Atikokan Painters Past and Present, By the Seat of Your Pants, the history of Atikokan bush planes and pilots, and History in Stitches: Fabric Art through the years (showing now); as well as special displays and features on things like the history of the hospital and arena, as those facilities were renewed, and on Atikokan’s connection to Vimy Ridge.
She is active in the Sunset Museum Network, and even took the Atikokan story to the Indigenous Collection Symposium at Six Nations Polytechnic and Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford Lois has also been an active volunteer, as a board member with the Chamber, the Beaten Path Nordic Ski club, the Beautification Committee, and the Path of the Paddle Association.
In terms of ink expended and internet downloads, there isn’t anyone alive who can match what Mike Ranta has done to reinforce Atikokan’s claim as the canoeing capital of Canada.
Reporters from coast-to-coast have talked to him, written about him, and photographed him. Countless people have shared his on-line posts, visited his website, and follow his ongoing travels. With each succeeding adventure, he’s more and more often hearing: “Hey, I’ve heard about you! That paddler from Atikokan!”
His face – and that of faithful companion Spitzii – look down on Main Street from their perch on the sign the Town erected in their honour in front of the new recreation and wellness centre. The Chamber named him ambassador of the year. Canoe & Kayak magazine named his trip its Expedition of the year. Those honours all came after his amazing 2014 crossing of Canada.
Of course, he did that one better in 2016, and has set out to do it again – with company – in 2017.