The Voyageur Canoe Brigade Paddled Through Fenelon Falls, August 1, 2023
August 1, 2023
The Voyageur Canoe Brigade Paddling Down the Fenelon River to Bobcaygeon
The Voyageur Canoe Brigade is a group of paddlers from all across Canada sharing an interest in voyageur canoeing. This week they are enjoying a 250-kilometre journey that began at Penetanguishene on July 29, and they will stop at the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough on August 5, before completing their journey at Hiawatha on Rice Lake the following day.
The Alberta-based not-for-profit organization attracts members from across Canada. Some of the boats are entered by specific canoe clubs, like a paddling club from Victoria, British Columbia. Others are made up of paddlers who are just getting to know each other as they make their way down the Trent Severn Waterway. Twelve voyageur canoes are making the journey, each seating 6 to 10 paddlers. The largest canoes are 34 feet long. The organizing committee arranges the route and the campsites that they will stay at, while each canoe is responsible for their own food and gear.
The Voyageur Canoe Brigade was inspired by the travels of David Thompson. Two centuries after this Welsh-Canadian paddler and cartographer journeyed for the Northwest Company, the Voyageur Canoe Brigade made set out to retrace the route from Rocky Mountain House to Thunder Bay in 2008. About once a year, they make an expedition somewhere in Canada—there were 7 trips for Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017. This year, their trip down the Trent-Severn is organized around a trip to the Canadian Canoe Museum. Three of their members were on the 1967 race from Rocky Mountain House to Montreal as part of Canada’s Centennial Celebrations.
Each day the Voyageur Canoe Brigade travels about 30 to 50 kilometres. Today was not their longest paddle as they stopped at Garnet Graham Park for lunch, and to host a “People in Boats” event. Members of the public could join the canoers to paddle out in Cameron Lake and experience Voyageur canoeing. The club hopes this will help “pass the paddle,” as it introduces new people to this activity.
“It’s an incredible way to see Canada,” explains committee chair Bruce Clark. “It’s like being part of a travelling party. There is a lot of camaraderie in our group. We have a piper and drummers, and are a very like minded group of people who love trees, being out in nature and the environment. It is special to travel the Trent-Severn Waterway and paddle up to beautiful communities like Fenelon Falls.”