Mountains to Montreal
Kenora the midway point in 4,500 km journey
Jessica Cable (we thank her for this interesting article)
Miner and News
A group of canoers paddling 4,500 kilometres across the country bedded down in Kenora Friday evening, but not before portaging their 22-foot, 250-pound canoe from the shores of Rideout Bay to the docks at the Harbourfront.
“I think it ended up being our longest portage yet,” said Hugo Kitching, one of the four men making the 130-day trip from the Rocky Mountains of Alberta to Montreal.
Kitching along with Dana Fountain, Peter Gorman and Pascal Landa set out on the cross-country canoe trip on May 1 from the Abraham Dam just south of Jasper. In six weeks the men have paddled and portaged their way across Alberta, through the prairies and into Ontario.
Kenora marks the halfway mark along the route of lakes and rivers once travelled by Voyagers and other past adventurers.
“What’s interesting to me is that we started our trip with river banks covered in snow, then had mud up to our hips in the prairies and now we’re here in Shield country,” said Landa, “We’re really getting to see the entire Canadian landscape.”
Paddling an average of 35-40 kilometers a day through the Canadian wilderness has allowed the group to witness some incredible scenery, but it’s the generosity of the people they’ve met along the way that has kept the group on course.
“It’s really made us proud to be Canadian. We can genuinely say we know the essence of what it’s like to be Canadian because we’ve experienced the thread that holds us together,” said Fountain.
“We’ve really received more hospitality than we know what to do with,” added Gorman.
The group spent Saturday near Longbow Lake, resting and recharging at a friend’s cottage before setting out on the second-half of their journey, which is expected to be the more difficult leg of the trip with more upstream paddling and lengthy portages along Lake Superior.
“We’ve had a lot of expected challenges that haven’t materialized yet, though, like bugs,” laughed Gorman.
The one persisting obstacle the group has faced is strong headwinds, which have prompted many night paddles.
“The Northern Lights would come out and keep us company at night,” said Fountain. “Pete would sit in the middle of the canoe and play his ukulele to keep our spirits up.”
The team will soon expand with a couple added canoers joining the trip, including Landa’s 17-year-old son who will be flying in from Paris at the end of July.
If you want to support the canoers or follow their journey you can visit www.mountains2montreal.ca.