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No, this isn’t an early Hallowe’en post.

THIS is The Beast:

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Okay, so it’s a friendly Beast, aka our Voyageur Canoe, a 33-foot, 450+lb, fiberglass-and-wood canoe designed and painted to look like the birch-bark canoes used during the fur trade.  It earns its nickname not only for its weight but for the fact that any time we want to use it, we have to herd up a bunch of staff and volunteers to dismantle it into two (still beastly heavy) sections, load it onto two trailers, arrange for people with hitches to bring their cars, schlep the trailers and our staff/volunteers to the put-in, and then haul it off the trailers and reconstruct it in situ, which is always reminds why IKEA doesn’t make 500lb bookshelves.  You just have to laugh, really, at how unbirchbark-ish our Voyageur Canoe actually is.

But, don’t get me wrong: I love the beast, and I’m forever grateful that its builder, Jim Holman, generously donated his craft to us after its illustrious reenactment career with the Red House Brigade. Because THIS is also the beast, in action:

2.1.1.2.12 VOYAGEUR CANOE 2

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Paddles straight up in N.Canoe group shot

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Fun even on the grass

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I have to admit it: it seems just the teensiest bit as if summer is… okay, I’ll just say it… over.  It’s not the back-to-school stuff in the stores (which has been up since July anyway) or the recent crisp nights, it’s that for me summer is all about the Museum’s Paddling Camps — and we’ve just said goodbye to our last campers for the year.

Our five weeks of camp saw over 50 paddlers learning new paddling skills and earning ORCKA certifications, with 23 new paddlers earning Level 1 badges, and our returning campers achieving 12 level 2s, five level 3s and seven Tripping 1A certifications. Plus five intrepid and very dedicated campers took us up on our new camp offering this year — the Level 4 ORCKA option, achieving their solo canoe certifications in just one week — no small achievement (can YOU paddle a canoe on your own in a straight line backwards?).  But badge stats aside, that’s a whole lot of kids with water safety and paddling skills they can use to enjoy the Canadian wilderness, or just a local river, their whole lives through. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week I had my weather reporting skills doubted each and every day! What looked like a week of rain and poor weather turned out to be a gloriously sunny week.  Perfect weather for taking a canoeing course don’t you think?

That is just what I did.  I took part in a Big Canoe Leader course taught by Paddle Canada right here in Peterborough.  This course enabled our already safe and competent canoe leaders to gain a national certification in leading Big Canoes.  There are not a lot of these courses taking place in Ontario and so an instructor from British Columbia flew out to teach.   The Big Canoe program is definitely new with having only about 4 years under it’s belt but it is a very interesting program and certainly worth investing our time into.

What is Big Canoe you wonder? Big Canoes are those wondrously large canoes that have their historical roots in the Canada’s fur trade era.  Think 36′ Montreal canoe/canot du maitre or 26′ North Canoe/canot du nord.  Don’t have them in your mind yet? Check out the pics below.

Montreal Canoe built at The Canadian Canoe Museum

North Canoes at National Canoe Day in Peterborough

 
These boats are absolutely perfect vessels for carrying heavy loads of  cargo and more recently, these canoes are excellent vehicles for introducing non-paddlers (and already keen paddlers) to canoeing in a safe and accessible manner.  The Canoe Museum’s Big Canoes earn their keep at the Museum by taking out students in school groups, campers in our summer CanoeKids Paddling Camps, corporate team building groups, visitors from other countries, individuals and families with Peterborough’s New Canadians Center, as well as the general public at such outings as National Canoe Day, Ode’Min Giizis festival, re-enactment festivals, Queen Jubilee pageants and many more events to come in the future.
 
Interested in seeing what it is like to paddle a Big Canoe?  Contact the Canoe Museum and we’ll let you know the next time these big beautiful beasts are leaving the dock!!  All are invited, no matter what your level of experience is.