Editorial: Where have all the paddlers gone?

Published: September 6, 2017


Cooler late August morning temperatures may be creating magical moments for local photographers but there is no magic in how much the weather change is ticking me off.

Morning chill means one thing – summer is over, finished, done. It’s a hard reality to ignore especially this week as the rumble of the yellow school bus descends on the district as they wait to pick up the newly cleaned and shined youth ready for their next year of higher learning to start.

However, I can’t seem to be able to hang up the camper key and kayak paddle yet and am managing to stay in a relative state of denial. This being said I think its time to shed some light on what I feel was a pretty significant accomplishment that went basically unnoticed throughout the region.

On Aug. 26 groups in Kenora, Dryden, Atikokan and Thunder Bay gathered to mark the opening of the Path of the Paddle, a 1,200 kilometre trail of waterways, portages and hiking trails connecting Thunder Bay to the Whiteshell Provincial Park in Manitoba. The section joins others which have been put together as the Trans Canada Trail, “the longest recreational trail in the world” and connects three of our oceanic coasts.

The events were local in nature and marginally well attended. It was a good news human-interest story and we all moved on.

What’s missing from the rhetoric is that although visitors along the path will get to pass through northwestern Ontario, we at the end of the road have missed a huge opportunity to establish a fork in the river and to bring more tourists into our woods.

Last year members of the Parks and Recreation Committee brought information of the initiative forward and I am guessing that the idea fell to the side as most outside-the-box recreation ideas do, because it lacked a driving force behind it. Not just someone or a group that wanted to support the idea but an actual driver who had the initiative and time (this being the hardest I would say) to get us linked prior to the trail being opened.

However, as we have also learnt in our community that if you spread an idea far and wide you never know who will pick it up and run. This summer I had a conversation with a motivated individual that wants to see a running track built in town. The proposal to repurpose the Cochenour Hall as an arts centre is another idea that has come about I am guessing from brainstorming how best to use our existing facilities to their fullest.

Ontario’s north is vast and beautiful and visitors to the newly opened passages will find their way across the province. Do we have a group of motivated and eager residents that want to see those visitors head north by canoe, kayak or paddlboard? Let’s give paddlers more incentive to come visit us and stay awhile.




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