Saturday, June 18, 2016

Canoe Believe It [Rouge River]

Date: June 18, 2016
Launch Point: Rouge Beach
Destination: Highway 401
Crew: Frank Lemire, Michael Mitchener & William Self
Conditions: Perfect!
Sightings:Two angry carp; several canoeists; gaggles of paparazzi; swag bags galore; a few humorous volunteers; an unknown number of bodyguards, secret police and RCMP; several Trudeaus; and one beautiful (besides Nessie of course) canoe.

Nessie Lives!
After a previously enjoyable visit to the Rouge, we signed up for this year's Paddle the Rouge event arriving at Rouge Beach around 8 am on a hot Saturday morning.  After unloading Nessie and gear, we luckily captured one of the last parking spots in the park versus facing a shuttle back from the Rouge Hill Go Train station.  All three of us were looking forward to heading up the Rouge River, all in the name of a good cause.

Unbeknownst to us when we signed up, the federal government was planning on making an announcement about establishing an urban park at the Rouge during the event.  We heard via Twitter on the day before that the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, would be making an appearance.  While we thought this might turn the paddle into a bit of media circus, the event was well organized and while there were a few extra visible security arrangements (e.g. RCMP ATVs), everything seemed relatively calm otherwise.

Urban Beach


It was a glorious, hot, sunny day, and we had a great paddle up the river to the 401.  This is always a surreal part of the trip with the massive highway infrastructure straddling the river and looming overhead, with fellow canoeists parked on the beach taking a break before heading back down the river.  You can likely go further with some portaging (which we'll have to check out someday) but it becomes tougher to paddle due to the shallow water so we too turned around.

Paddle Paparazzi

Arriving back at the beach, we noticed a flurry of media types heading to the beach and assumed the PM had arrived and was making his way to the water.  As we passed by the registration area, we spotted a beautiful wooden canoe with Justin Trudeau, his wife and daughter heading towards to the main media "scrum" for a pass-by.  We hung back to see what was what and in a short time, the PM was heading back our way for a trip up the river.  He ended up passing our canoe within about 20' with Justin and Sophie exchanging good morning's with us (as canoeists tend to do).  They were all smiles and seemingly enjoying the paddle with very little apparent security around them.  We were impressed with how relaxed and approachable the PM was.

Train Spotting

Having our brush with fame, we headed back to the beach, stretched, and proceeded to pack up.  There was about a 5 minute delay picking up the car to load up the canoe while waiting for the PM's motorcade to leave but other than that minor inconvenience, having the PM join in only added to the event.

In the Weeds

All in all, a great day, PERFECT weather, awesome swag, impressive coordination by the Wildlands League, and a cool thing to hang with Justin and his family. Thanks to the Wildlands League for arranging the day, the Rouge is definitely something worth preserving and we hope to get back for a fall paddle if not sooner.

Coincidentally, one of my favourite canoe quotes is from another Trudeau:

What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau


Rouge Rush Hour

No comments:

Post a Comment