Canoeing has always been a personal passion of mine. I spent most of my summers as a youth up north on the lakes of Algonquin Park, and it is there, I believe, that I first felt my passion for nature and the earth.

So when Mike Barber told me that he though Transition Guelph should host a canoe race, I was totally game.

After weeks of planning with a dedicated team of volunteers who were all committed to making this event a success, we gathered together last Sunday for the inaugural Transition Guelph Canoe Race! The weather cooperated very nicely and what started as a cloudy morning soon turned to sunny skies and warmer temperatures – perfect for spending a day with friends and canoes.

All in all, we had a great turn out for the race. Bike It Guelph helped out by delivering canoes for the race on a bike trailer – a great sustainable way to get canoes across land!  There were three different divisions planned for the day: a family (non-competitive) race, a competitive race, and a kayak race. We started the first family race at 10:30 with 4 canoes in the first heat. The route was planned from Gordon Street bridge travelling west down the Speed River toward the McCrae Bridge, around the bridge and back to Gordon Street. We had two more heats of family racers all making remarkably good time! Next up was the competitive race and we had a number of spectators standing on the bridge shouting and cheering the racers as they sped down the (appropriately named) Speed River, trying to beat the other canoes. Finally, we had a father-daughter kayak race to bring the day of racing to a close! In total, there were over 25 people who raced as well as 20 or so spectators who spent the day helping out, cheering on the paddlers, and enjoying the day.

We also had some great vendors, Northern Cookstoves and Wiseway Stoves and  come set up shop for the day, and The Command Post serving great sandwiches and ice cream. Kids and adults alike we entertained by Andrew the Abolsutely Normal and we had some amazing mini paddles to paint lovingly crafted by The Children’s Art Factory.

A huge thank-you to everyone who came out to share the day, to everyone who lent hands to help out with the day, and especially those that donated prizes for the winners!