Looking back many people might consider the summer of 2009 to be all rain and cool gloom - certainly we did get a lot of rain and it was overcast more often than usual - but with 21 outings and 302 participants I think of the summer as a great success.
This summer I think I met more people from around the world than in prior years. This was the first experience in a canoe for many, a few took to it like a fish to water. Although most had relocated to live in Winnipeg we did have a group of guests from Belgium. They were in Winnipeg and looked up canoeing opportunities expressly to get their children out for a bit of 'wilderness'. It was fortunate that the evening was beautiful with only a little breeze and few (if any) mosquitoes - it was their last day in Winnipeg.
Even with all of the rain the bridge over the La Salle was only under water for a few weeks and by August we had stopped going below the dam (toward St. Norbert) because the water level was getting low. September turned out to be one of the warmest sunniest months of the whole summer (as it turns out it was a record) dispelling any memory of earlier cool weather.
For the second time in the ten years that I have been leading these paddles an outing did not run due to weather. August 19th was a hot a humid day, Environment Canada had issued a Tornado watch earlier in the afternoon. By 6:00 it was dark, raining, and the clouds looked a little ominous. I still went out to the park to meet anyone that braved the weather and found one lone soul waiting. We decided to retreat and head home instead of chancing the weather. As it turned out it cleared shortly before 7:00 and it would have been a pleasant paddle - but there was no way to predict the clearing and it is better to be safe than sorry. The first cancellation was due to a snow storm the second week of May 2004.
Sometime over the weekend of August 12/13 some bandit made off with one of our canoes. Breaking the lock on the gate and cutting the Kryptonite cables that secured the canoes. The neighbour across Waverly from the park notified us on Sunday that the compound was open and one of the canoes was missing. We are both thankful and greateful for the time and thought that they put into letting us know. We have reported the canoe stolen and hope to recover it again in the future. Eric Gyselman (PM Board member) went out as soon as we heard and replaced the locks and cables with heavier chains and sturdier locks (thanks).
This year the board was very active with the Wednesday evening paddles with two or three additional board members coming out most weeks over the summer to paddle, enjoy, and help out. Sharon and First Light, Eric and his red Fox, Stephen with support and advice, Yvonne and the Maple. On the few weeks that I was on other trips Eric and Yvonne stepped in to make sure that the outings continued without a break.
I was pleased to see the ongoing support from Paddle Manitoba for running outreach and open programs. Like the tornado watch earlier this summer there was a potential for turbulence brewing. With changes to the constitution at the AGM to focus more on standards, the resignation of a long standing board member, and dramatic changes to the board structure it could have been a year that saw the loss of support or interest in these weekly outings. I think the participation seen this year from many in the community shows there is a strong interest in paddling. Strong support of open paddles shows a clear commitment to paddling, and the paddling community by Paddle Manitoba - beyond just training and standards.
I want to recognize Dan Wall for agreeing to lead one of the eveing paddles while I was on another wilderness trip. I wish him all the best with his return to BC. In addition to Dan there were many Paddle Manitoba members that participated regularly over the summer bringing their skills and knowledge. In particular Greg and his wife who came out to many of the paddles (when they weren't attempting trips elsewhere) for helping out before and after many paddles. Over the summer they provided many stories about trips and rivers in Manitoba, advice on equipment, and thoughtful commentary on paddling. I also can't think of a week that they did not return from an evening paddle with at least some item that the thoughtless left along the river (cans, bottles, plastic, ....).
I expect to be back again next spring and I hope to see you on the water the first week of May 2010. This winter when sking along the water-ways and lakes take a momement to think about your canoe and paddle and adventures both past and future.
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Email: burc...@cc.umanitoba.ca Last modified: Sat Oct 23 07:22:20 2010