Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A couple of my favourite paddlers...

Just for fun, I thought I'd share a couple of pics of a couple of my favourite paddlers, taken this past summer. The lovely lady on the right is my 92-year-old mother who, with my father introduced their only child (me) to a variety of self-propelled outdoor sports as he was growing up - including sea kayaking. On the left, is our good friend, Bob, who has had the good fortune of being featured in the 2009 Vancouver Island Vacation Guide - a full page yet! As will be evident, Mum and Bob also share a love of ice cream. Joan and I had an ice cream but neither one of us have ever been featured in a glossy, colour magazine! But I'm not jealous. OK, so, yes I am!

Back in early 1973, just after he retired, my father decided to build a kayak in the basement of our home - no fancy composite materials, no rudder or skeg, just a simple wooden kayak. An accomplished sailor, swimmer, and rower for many years - the idea of a water sport utilizing the double bladed paddle must just have appealed to him. In the summer of '73, we celebrated the "launch" of his turquoise and white craft in the pristine waters of Papineau Lake in the Madawaska Valley, where we had enjoyed our island cottage for many years. The "christening" was performed as per British Merchant Navy procedure (Dad would have insisted and as a candidate for the ministry in a liberal tradition, I felt I needed to be open to such ancient and festive traditions), so yes, a good time was had by all! In the photo below, my mother is in the front - not sure where her paddle is but she is clearly waving triumphantly to the gathered and cheering crowd on the beach.

Completely "bitten" by the idea of kayaking, it wasn't long afterward that Joan and I acquired our first kayaks (fibreglass singles) designed and manufactured by Emile Maschek, who I believe had Olympic connections back in the 1950's. We enjoyed them for many, many years while acquiring a small fleet of kayaks including an expedition Nautiraide (French), a Klepper (German), a whitewater kayak whose manufacturer I've forgotten, and our current Current Designs GT and GTS. It all began with a simple wooden kayak, built with love, patience, and the hope that it would float (and track straight!) - I must say that it did both rather well. We sold the cottage many years ago now and I think the kayak must have gone along with the sale. Too bad - it was a 'classic". My Mum, although no longer able as she once was, still smiles when we mention the possibilty of a "paddle".

Now Bob, who came to sea kayaking some years after the three of us, has had the good fortune of becoming the "poster boy" to all those who dream of multi-day wilderness paddling in our magnificent island environment. But I forgive him (haha!) and, bless his soul, he was amongst those wonderful folks at Midlands in Calgary who presented us with the best going away present ever when we moved to the Island almost seven years ago - two brand new graphite paddles, still in use, and still highly prized.

With thanks to my parents for the "paddle eddies" that became paddle memories,



  1. Not sure what to say, your story touches my heart. I never met your Dad it sounds like he was a wondeful man and we all know what a great Mum you have. Even now though she is unable to get out and paddle with you I can see her love for you in her eyes whenever I mention your name. I am sure in her heart she is out there with you on each of your paddles.
    Good that you have these wonderful memories.

  2. Thank you, L. Probably time for some "paddle eddies" down at Maple Bay for all of us.

  3. Cool looking Nana at 92. The Nautiraide is an awesome kayak - I'd paddle the Arctic in one! You probably know they used them off submarines.

    John C

  4. Hey John,

    Yeah, pretty solid craft and I think frame is now probably aluminum which would be a lot easier to put together - I remember bending the wood was a little stressful!


  5. Thank you for the lovely story Duncan...makes you want to get on the water~~~and paddle~~~~

    Your Mom and Dad sound like wonderful, loving, talented people who enjoyed life and all of God's creations.

    Thank's again for the read,


  6. Thanks for visiting, Trina, and hope to see you on the water sometime.