The last day of Tuesday evening paddles has come to an end with the setting sun. It has been a wonderful last day to a great year. I want to say thanks to the many people who came out to the Tuesday paddles. Gerry Hirose took out two weeks while I was away paddling with my family and friends. I am grateful to the PM board members for supporting and participating in the Tuesday paddles when ever possible. In May, June, and September, when my children were actively involved in after school programs, I had the pleasure of making the 20+km ride from work to La Barriere Park each Tuesday. Thanks to Brent, Lynn, Paul and Bob for taking pity on me and giving me a periodic lift. I enjoy paddling my own canoe and several times dreamt about putting it on trailer but then the thought of riding through the city with an extra seventeen feet of Kevlar behind me pulled me back to reality.
A total of 136 people came out over 22 weeks. There was one wedding party; this exemplifies the dedication to canoeing that we have in Manitoba when someone brings her family, and to be extended family, out to a recreational paddle. Several people came from as far away as Europe, BC, the Maritimes, and East St. Paul (:-)) just to paddle - OK I might be willing to admit that they were here for other reasons but they still came for a paddle. There were many people new to canoeing, ranging in age from 1 to 30(ish) and beyond. With the many new people to canoeing this year I rarely made it to the bridge at the golf course, in fact on many Tuesdays I did not make it much past the walking bridge. The new canoeists gave me the chance to perfect the '5 minute' canoe lesson. I hope that many of these new people will continue to paddle and enjoy canoeing. New to the Tuesday paddles were the periodic kayakers. While I have no certification in kayak instruction it is a sport that I enjoy especially with long river and lake systems.
There were a number of people who came to Tuesday paddles to get pointers and directions on their canoeing skills, and to try out new equipment. Over the summer I passed out business cards and sent people to the outdoor and wilderness stores that I know cater to canoeists (Wave Track, MEC, Wilderness supply). We talked about taking trips (past and future), where to go, how to deal with children, what to eat, how to portage, and many more things. Many of these people rented or bought equipment and went out to enjoy the great rivers and lakes in Manitoba and north western Ontario. On their return I had the pleasure of talking to them about their experiences canoeing the wilds with new (and old) equipment.
Two great blue herons (I only saw one) were regulars on each paddle. In the evenings late in the summer we often saw the owls that live along the river. There were occasional beavers that would watch us suspiciously then slap and dive. I missed the deer that we had seen last summer, but I guess things change and even animals move on to other places.
I wish everyone a wonderful winter of skiing and snow shelters with pleasant dreams of paddles to come and paddles past.