Peter - One Year Post PACT

Peter Vooys. Edwards Gardens, Toronto.
Photo by Marlee Maclean

One year from PACT and I still think of an aspect of PACT every day. From conception to completion, I am still blown away by our own accomplishment. PACT is a chip on my shoulder, something I carry with me as a reminder of determination. It has set a new high [level] in what I now think is challenging in life. PACT has realigned my perspective.

I will look at a map of Canada and still be in awe. Then I think of specifics and remember just how lucky we got. Weather, injuries, sickness, navigation, support from friends and strangers alike. I would like to attribute our success to purely skill, but no doubt a little good fortune and a lot of support were on our side.

Unfortunately, PACT did not meet one of my criteria. I had thought PACT would cure me of my adventure cravings. To satisfy my wanderlust. To finally be able to move forward past the paddle. It did not. The curse of Itchy Feet remains.

I have now proven to myself that large expeditions are more than theoretically possible, they are attainable. I have a growing list of regions and rivers to explore, not a shrinking one. I have realized that the best possible way for exploration of Canada is by canoe. So to this, I continue to paddle. I continue to engage in what motivates me. Adventure inspiration lies in the historical narrative and in the contemporary stories of friends. PACT allowed us to tap into the community of adventurers and dreamers that follow their passions. The network of wilderness travellers is opened, offering and teasing many more adventures. We are so blessed in Canada for many reasons, and I count the luxury of being able to entertain notions of canoe trips as evidence of this. As a nation, Canada is certainly set up to provide several lifetimes of wilderness adventure. I often wonder if it is possible to see it all.

This past summer I paddled in the Yukon Territory and in the autumn I led students on trips through my beloved Algonquin Provincial Park. The unknown and the familiar. Each trip with the same excitement and wonder I held for 120 days on PACT. The same feelings I had on my first canoe trip at age six.

I know I am addicted to wilderness travel. I know that I will continue my tour of paddling across Canada.

Marissa - One Year Post PACT

Marissa Sieck. Edwards Gardens, Toronto.
Photo by  Marlee Maclean

Trudeau expresses it best when he said, “What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel.”

Travelling an average speed of 3mph had changed me, and I loved it. The slow pace gave me the space to be present with myself and my surroundings. The silence surfaced the quiet voiced within me and made me listen to them, which sometimes had been silenced for a reason. Paddling from sunrise to sunset, listening to the coyotes sing, the call of the loons, the moon dancing on calm water, feeling the sun on your face – these are all a part of the process of purification that Trudeau was talking about.

The past year has been restful and a time of regeneration. I have been trying to process this trip, and I find it hard to express myself in words. Everytime I think about PACT I am filled with gratitude to have had the privilege to have paddled across Canada, live outside and canoe for 120 days.

I thought that maybe I would be over canoeing or sleeping outside, but really I just fell deeper in love with Canada.

I hope to never stop paddling, exploring, and living life close to nature. I look forward to returning home to the cedar trees and rocky shores of the Canadian Shield, but until then, I will carry these memories with me no matter where in the world I may be.

James - One Year Post PACT

James Humpston. Edwards Gardens, Toronto. 
Photo by Marlee Maclean

One year on from our PACT adventure and unsurprisingly, I long more than ever for another adventure. A trip like this doesn’t quell your need for exploration, it enhances it. It showed me what’s possible, and made me want to push further, for longer. It made me not want to live an ordinary life. Mostly it made me want to do another trip just like it.

I learned a lot from this journey. The kindness and generosity of strangers along the way was humbling, and I’ve tried at every opportunity to pass that generosity along to others. That’s something I plan on doing for the rest of my life.

I also found in me more strength and perseverance than I ever thought I had. I feel more ready to take on the world than ever before. Not every day out there was easy. Some days were extraordinarily difficult. But we all made it through with flying colours. Life back in the real world seems downright easy sometimes.

Marc - One Year Post PACT

Marc Soberano. Edwards Gardens, Toronto.
Photo by Marlee Maclean

Everything I know and do has PACT woven through it. It’s a tough act to follow, but I’m doing my best. PACT showed me how fulfilling a successful project can be and how simple, dynamic and perfect life can be.

 I can’t make a point in any conversation without using a story or thought from this trip as an example. It represents the pinnacle of my adventure experience, a massive success story and everything I know about social dynamics, hard work, entrepreneurship, life, problem solving, pushing through and having fun.

 I wouldn’t trade any crew member for anyone else in the world. The team taught me what its like to be around good people. You can get annoyed but you can’t get mad – Great people are just great people.

 Through PACT we lived the life of the modern voyageur. Instead of collecting pelts form the inhabitants of the river, we collected friends. Instead of returning the favour with guns and modern technologies, we shared our story and gave a memory. We would thank people for their kindness, and they would thank us for giving them an unexpected story they’ll have for the rest of their lives. Everybody’s happy - that’s good business!

 It doesn’t feel like it was 120 days and it doesn’t feel like its been a year, but I don’t even try to think of it that way. PACT grew into something so much bigger than a 120 trip for all of us. You all got on board, we made friends, we made memories every single day, we still do PACTtalks and hang out as a team of friends. PACT doesn’t feel like it’s been a year because it still such a big part of my life everyday.

 When we finished, I said that PACT went perfectly – more perfectly than I ever could have dreamed. I still learn from it and I still take things from it all the time. A year later, PACT is still perfect and getting perfecter every day.

Kingston2Ottawa Canoe Race

Less than a year later and PACT is at it again! We are beyond excited to announce PACT's participation in the Kingston2Ottawa (K2O) marathon canoe race happening next weekend, August 16-17th, 2024! This entails more than 32 hours of straight paddling through the night along a UNESCO world heritage site: the Rideau Canal.

Not only are we entering a voyageur canoe in this race, we are entering as THE voyageur canoe. PACT is representing as the flagship, the example, the demonstration to the world that racing a north canoe along this route is not only possible, but also competitive. PACT will be represented by returnee's Peter Vooys, Scott Graham, Marc Soberano and Hollye Ervine> They are joined by paddle and camping enthusiasts, Evan Woodley and Jill Zeppa.

Feel free to explore the website, follow our updates and share with friends - let's keep the PACT buzz buzzing! This happens to be the longest marathon canoe race in Ontario, and one we are thrilled to take on!

 

Check out the race website for more details on this event: www.kingston2ottawa.ca

The Final Blog

This will be the final blog update for the 2013PACT expedition.  The blogs are primarily in chronological order, with the exception of a few that were added  post-trip, so if you want whole tale from the get-go, rewind to the start of the blogs.  Happy reading.  

 The Final Count

PACT is proud to announce that over $10,000 was successfully raised in support of outdoor education during our campaign.  We are hounored to assist in supporting three outstanding, non-for profit organizations.  

 PACTalks

We are still sharing our story with anyone who will listen!  If you would enjoy a PACT presentation at your school, outdoors group, summer camp, church, community centre....or ANYWHERE, please email 2103PACT@gmail.com

 

And Now a Few Words of Thanks…

 Thank you for sponsoring and supporting our dream.  Thank you for donating to outdoor education in Canada.  Thank you for visiting our website.  Thanks for checking the tracker and joining us as we paddled.  Thank you for liking us on Facebook.   Thanks for reading our blogs.  Thanks for the Tweets...and re-Tweets.  Thanks for the sausage.  Thank you for the fan mail.  Thanks for breakfast.  Thank you for waving from your dock.  Thanks for asking us about our trip.  Thanks for the advice about the river. Thanks for honking as we paddled under the bridge.  Thanks for the cold beer on a hot day.  Thanks for the hot shower on a cold night.  Thank you for holding onto our resupply boxes.  Thank you for the fresh fish.  Thanks for helping us on portage.  Thank you for the music. Thanks for taking our picture.  Thanks for the maps.  Thanks for cheering.  Thanks for chasing us around Superior.   Thanks for serenading us with a voyageur song to keep us paddling in time.  Thanks for letting us stop at your dock and pee on your lawn.  Thanks for learning with us.  Thanks for the campsite.  Thank you for telling your friends.  Thanks for the pizza…PACT loves pizza.  Thank you for the boat repairs.  Thank you giving us a roof over our heads and on a few occasion beds. Thank you for the next round.  Thanks for the cookies.  Thanks for paddling with us.  Thanks for trumpeting O’ Canada as we paddled the lake. Thanks for fresh fruit. Thanks for the flat piece of ground to tent on.  Thanks for the big welcome home.  Thanks for celebrating with us.  Thank you for hearing in our story.

 To the hundreds of family, friends, friends of friends, new friends and incredible strangers who have changed six lives forever… Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

 Love Hollye, James, Marc, Marissa, Peter & Scott

Peter’s Pastas, Parasites and Poops

A pasta dinner! I love pasta.

Through a relatively close connection - the sister of my university housemate's mother's friend- the PACT crew was invited to a pasta dinner reception and a flat piece of grass to sleep on when we reached Sault Ste. Marie. Squirrel Island, just outside the Soo, in the middle of St.Mary's River to be exact.

A real pasta dinner! With a last name like Stortini, and the hint of secret recipes, we could only expect the finest of Italian dining.


We were not disappointed. The Stortini's put on a feast of Caesar (salad) proportions. Not only did they cook for us, but invited the entire Squirrel Island cottager community. Bottles of white, bottles of red were passed around. Piles of pasta were plopped onto plates topped with a thick sauce from a family recipe. Homemade meatballs the size of softballs were delicately placed on top of spaghetti all covered with cheese, threatening to bring the song lyrics to life.

And lo in the corner, amongst the grandeur, I was not feeling up to eating my usual three plates of pasta.

Let's rewind.

Water purification is a big deal on canoe trip. Whether you boil, filter, or purify through chemical science means, you've got to be able to drink clean water. We chose to use Aquatabs, a popular and effective chlorine pill that is dropped in a vessel of water. It has a proven track record when used properly.

Perhaps I happened to drink the water too soon after tabbing, not allowing the chemical disinfectant to fully take place. Perhaps I tabbed and drank brown water from a small creek. Perhaps I drank water straight from Lake Superior without tabbing. Who knows? It doesn't really matter what mouthful of water carried the parasite. The fact is, by the time I had reached the Stortini's, I had been travelling 14 days with active Giardiasis. It's also called Beaver Fever.

Giardiasis is a parasitic disease that blocks nutrient absorption by coating the inside of the hosts' small intestine. Beaver Fever is not as funny as the name suggests. Nor is it anywhere close to having Bieber Fever.

I first noticed feeling sick the night we stayed on St. Ignace Island on the north shore of Lake Superior. My appetite was down and I felt gassy. Only the first symptom was truly odd. Over the next two weeks during our Superior push I experienced a continuing wave of symptoms whose presence would ebb and flow, but whose intensity always increased upon their return. Nausea, bloating, lethargy, decreased appetite, weakness, exhaustion, diarrhea, vomiting, and particularly potent flatulence kept an unhealthy rotation through my body. Some mornings I was too weak to load the boat, some days too weak to keep pace with the rest of the crew.  I spent Day 88 alternating between sleeping in the canoe and puking over the gunwales.

The night we paddled to the Janveau cottage (see "Night at the Museum 2") my sickness and I put aside our differences long enough for me to consume a celebratory burger only to spend the remaining night and next day before departure in and out of the toilet. It was at the Janveau's that I realized how skinny I had become. By the time we reached Sault Ste. Marie and I had the sense to walk into a walk-in clinic, I had lost at least 15 pounds since leaving Thunder Bay.
That night we met the Stortini's and the rest of Squirrel Island.

The next morning after our glorious pasta reception I sadly stayed behind from PACT to rest, having a restless sleep complete with morning vomits and toilet trips. When the crew and canoe, my cross-country family and home, left the shore without me, I was too weak to protest.

 (For an excellent description of the crew's adventures while Peter recovered, see the blog post "The Adventures of Bert and Tommy ")

That day I spent alternating between the bed and the bathroom. By 5pm, it was clear that I was in no shape to catch up with my friends down the river, but instead made the call to attend the hospital for severe dehydration and exhaustion. Five hours and one intravenous bolus of saline solution later, I was feeling... stable.

Over the next two days I recovered at Sylvia and Jon Stortini's cottage. Sylvia happens to be a retired nurse, and made sure I had plenty of bed rest, monitored my diet, and asked to be kept up to date with all pertinent health related information.

Gratefully, yet embarrassingly, my parents rushed to join me at the Stortini's. By plane and automobile they travelled north as soon as the word got out that I was headed for the hospital. They were coming next week anyway, so what's a few days earlier?

Through a strict regimen of anti-biotics, sleep, bland diet and two mothers, I was soon able to walk across the room without a pause to regain my stamina. I recovered enough to rejoin the crew. Three days sitting and watching tracking device was enough for me. I was anxious to get back to the crew who would be camped near Blind River that night (a mere two hours drive down the highway). My parents dropped me off at the crew’s campsite beach and brought with them a feast of PACT proportions.

 Back in the canoe I took it easy for the next couple of days, finishing off the round of medicine and choosing the lighter loads. My appetite slowly returned so I was able to resume my role of scraping everything that looked like food from the bottom of the cooking pot. Though I was able to return to paddling speed, for the remainder of the trip, I never fully regained my pre-Giardiasis strength and form.


I can’t thank the Stortini's enough for their kindness and care. They opened their doors to my family, and took me in as their own. The Squirrel Island community continued their overwhelming support of our trip by closely monitoring our progress, and checking up on a certain recently released patient.

I will return to Squirrel Island, healthy, to say hello to the gang. I hope to be so lucky as to be invited to sit again at the Stortini's table, proper appetite in tow, and enjoy the secret family recipe that thick sauce is made from, and the pasta cooked to perfection and the huge meatballs teetering on top. I will be bringing a bottle of white and a bottle of red.

 

the Voyageur's Code at the Height of the Land

 Upon passing the Height of the Land for the first time, voyageurs were required to take the “Voyageurs Code” and to toast the landmark with a dram of whiskey. A set of guidelines passed from one crew to the next. PACT was no exception to the rule. At roughly 8am on July 29th, the crew crossed a small, nearly flat portage from North Lake to South Lake, passing from the Hudson’s Bay watershed to the Great Lakes watershed. From here, everything would be “downhill”.

Crew historian Peter Vooys marked the occasion by reciting the voyageur’s code to the best of his memory.

This is what the PACT Voyageur’s Code sounded like:

“Since Grand Rapids we have battled the mighty Hudson’s Bay watershed. Upstream the whole way in the high country! En français – le pays d’en haut.
Now we’ve crossed the Height of the Land, and in true voyageur fashion we will recite the voyageur’s code (at least the portions I can remember), and should take the traditional voyageur toast to congratulate ourselves on reaching the Great Lakes watershed. 
It’s all downhill from here.
We’ve come a long way, that’s really awesome.

Ahem.

A voyageur rises early and retires late.
A voyageur paddles hard in the day and eats heartily at night.
When the trip is done, they drink merrily.
A voyageur relies on his team to get from A to B (adlib there), but a voyageur also makes sure that the team can rely on him or her or cat (adlib there).
A voyageur works hard, plays hard and respects the land.
And a voyageur never sleeps with another voyageur’s spouse.

And this in the name of the North-West Company, say Amen.”

With that, Vooys called the rest of the crew up one by one to kneel while he poured whiskey down their throats.

What a way to start the day! 

Six Rooms for Six Paddlers - Chateau Montebello

Campsites tend to vary in quality. From night to night, camping trip to camping trip, every site has it’s own unique qualities – positive and otherwise. This was of course the same with our trip. Outside Edmonton we slept in not much more than a mud pit covered in stoneflies. In La Verendrye Provincial Park, we slept in blueberry bushes surrounded tightly by granite crags. On the Pigeon River, we were only able to find thick undergrowth to sleep in, arriving well after dark.

On the other side of the comfort factor, there was a campsite in the town of Montebello, Quebec on the Ottawa River that stands out.

We saw it through the setting sun on Day 118: a giant wooden structure rising above the trees of the Laurentian valley and the large yachts mooring in the harbour. Upon docking, we realised that it was an entire complex of giant wooden structures, architecturally unified by their Lincoln log style and green roofs. The main building boasted a grand entrance, immediately thrusting you into a large open concept lobby with a towering stone hexagonal fireplace in the centre. Chandeliers and table lamps filled the room with soft light. Wooden corridors of guest rooms radiated from the centre, named for famous French Canadians.

The clerk at the desk had heard of our impending arrival and had made all the proper arrangements. Six rooms for the six paddlers! Too much, we protested! Don’t be silly, they replied! Well if you insist, we accepted!

We hauled our dry bags and gear to our respective rooms, under the curious eyes of the desk clerk.  Promising to not get trapped in our private tents with full baths, we were to meet back in the looby for dinner in ten minutes.

One by one the Paddle Across Canada Tour arrived in comfy sweats back in the lobby. We moved slowly, slack jawed, digesting the architecture, oversize classic paintings, and air of sophistication. The lobby was filled with excellent sitting spots, and a debate as to which chair or couch was the comfiest took place. We ate and toasted our luck, and the pending completion of our journey. After a gourmet meal that did not include such items as quinoa, oats, lentils or peanut butter, not much was said. 118 days in close quarters with each other, we gladly retired to our private rooms at the Chateau Montebello.

As karma for our good fortune, the next two nights downstream were spent in the rain.

Thank you to the Farimont Hotel at Chateau Montebello and to Roots Canada for the stay in what must be one of Canada’s most beautiful hotels, and a very comfortable campsite.

 

From the desk of Office Jill: My 120 Day Journey Behind a Computer Screen

As long as I can remember I have been suffering from a (potentially) fatal case of FOMO.  If you haven’t heard, the number of diagnosed cases is growing with the rise of social media… our friends and acquaintances post their latest updates, and more people are left with a “fear of missing out”. 

I guess I should introduce myself; I worked for many glorious summers with Peter, Scott and Hollye on the shores of Moira Lake at Camp Quin-Mo-Lac. Last winter, my good friend Hollye told me something wild. Our ol’ pals Peter and Scott wanted her to canoe across Canada with them. CANOE ACROSS CANADA! That sounds crazy, right? Obviously we both knew she had to say yes! It was only a few weeks of getting the details organized when I started to learn more about PACT – the crew, their stories, their motivation to achieve this goal, and passion to make a difference in the process. The first time I met Marc, within seconds of shaking my hand he said, “So, this is Office Jill?”, to which Hollye replied, “She doesn’t know about that yet”. The fact that Hollye, Scott and Peter knew me well enough to know I would say yes must have meant it was a good fit, and better yet, it was something I was completely excited about. 

My role as “Office Jill” had no guidelines. After a few meetings, we still had some trouble defining my job. It wasn’t until the crew had actually set sail that I fell into a solid routine of editing blogs, posting pictures, updating with Roots, contacting media and connecting family members. I really can’t choose a favourite moment. I looked forward to and loved every minute of it. Receiving the blogs and watching the Dropbox fill up with new photos would keep me up late.  I was constantly reviewing, organizing and sharing.  My friends and family can attest to my excitement on a daily basis – I loved being the first one to see the pictures, read the news and get those calls. I couldn’t stop talking about PACT’s latest adventures and the stories were always captivating and contagious. Even from a distance, I always felt like part of the crew. I have to admit, it was the perfect cure for FOMO.

Over 120 days after being casually referred to as “Office Jill” this so-called favour I did for my friends became something huge for me. Since the final days of PACT’s voyage, I’ve been considering other ways to spend my now-free time, but I still haven’t found an experience to fill that void (I think Scott calls it Post-PACT depression).

To Hollye, Marissa, Scott, Marc, James and Peter:  I will always be your OJ and you guys will always be my crew!

THANK YOU PACT! 

 

The Pelican Case

A Pelican Case is a brand of a waterproof, hard-shell, protective cases.   On canoe trips this product is a safe home for items of delicacy (cameras or sunglasses, to avoid being crushed) or importance (money or passports, to avoid being soggy).  These cases were very abundant during our paddle across Canada.

That is the Pelican Case; this is a case for the pelican.  There are pelicans in Canada.  Over the trip I have developed quite an enthusiastic fondness for this bird.  I could ramble on…I will try to be pelican brief.

Back in February, while discussing this adventure with a colleague who had paddled Lake Winnipeg before, she informed me that on the lake we would encounter pelicans.  I remembered the pelican.  When I was five, the family went down south.  Disney was incredible, I finally met Goofy and there were pelicans.  From my memory- a scrawny, brown and dirty white, squawking, fishy-gross, undesirable nuisance.

To my surprise, just two days past Edmonton, the pelicans joined our canoe trip much earlier than expected.  Not at all resembling the nuisance recalled from childhood, the American White Pelican is the second largest bird in North America.  They are majestic, magnificent, stark white angels of northern rivers and lakes. 

Being a very big bird with a very big beak, one may assume the noise of hundreds of these species can be heard from thousands of paddles away, however in all of our encounters with the birds, not a screech was squawked.   The pelicans are amazing and abundant.  Feeding and flying in flocks of hundreds along the North Saskatchewan or gliding effortlessly alone along the Winnipeg lakeshore in the sunset, these beautiful birds became our spirit guides, joining us for over 75 days of our adventure.   

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While our journey saw an abundance of animals; from moose to black bear, wolf to porcupine, tick to mosquito and everything in between, the American White Pelican remains my most memorable wildlife moment on the paddle across Canada tour.   

PACT Portaging- Loon Falls Portage

PACT was canoe-dancing between Minnesota and Ontario, along the boundary waters on the edge of Quetico Provincial Park.  They were excited to get into canoe tripping country- real portaging, real campsites, canoeists, pictographs and wild blueberries. But before they could get there, two portages stood in their way.  As they paddled towards the first portage, a set of railway tracks rose out of the water. 

The signs said; Loon Falls Portage. Portage Hours: Daily.  All Dogs Must Be Leashed. Current Portage Rates: Round Trip $40.00 One Way $20.00.   And underneath all that signage, there was the Bat-phone.  If you pick up the phone between certain times…daily, a man might answer. He sits in a hut atop the summit of the portage, looking down on Loon Lake to the east.    PACT requested a one-way ticket from the deep voice on the other end of the line and soon out in the distance the Bat-Trolley rolled over the hill and entered the water in front of the canoe.  The boat was tied securely to the trolley and one more phone call was made. “It’s ready sir.”

The PACT crew ran along side the tracks, taking pictures and giggling like idiots as the canoe was towed on the electric pulley along the railroad tracks.  After the boat was untied from the trolley and tied securely to the dock, PACT scrounged through their day packs to find one ten, one five, a twoonie and three loonies and walked back atop the hill to the little hut.  

Everyone was excited to meet Batman.  The Paddle Across Canada Tour is a non-for profit charity, crewed by six people without jobs, so the crew was hoping that with a little sweet-talking, Batman would wave the twenty dollar fee. ($20.00/6 crew members=$3.33 each, saved to be put towards student loan payments) 

Batman, although seemingly positive about the potential of “outdoor education”, said he could not support our cause due to his passion and commitment towards education indoors.

PACT happily paid.

It was time to leave, but Batman stopped PACT at the door.

“Just one more thing….”

 The PACT crew got back into the canoe with prizes! One Bat-soda and one Bat-bar each! For free….or at the cost of twenty dollars!!

Thank you Batman.

 

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Pact Portaging-Turtle Lake Trolley

Whether opportunity, rarity or hilarity, on a few occasions PACT was able to take a load off their shoulders and experience some less traditional methods of portaging. 

 

If you find yourself paddling about twenty nautical miles south of Sioux Narrows, Ontario, lost in the sea of islands that creates the Lake of the Woods, you may happen upon the Turtle Lake Canoe Portage.  PACT did not.  PACT passed the canoe portage to locate the Turtle Portage Channel.  A canal created in 1963 to eliminate a 50 mile detour boaters would have to take to get from Sioux Narrows to Nester Falls in the south of the lake.   Recently however, it was realized that the pristine waters of Whitefish Bay, north of the channel, were being compromised by waters to the south and channel was eliminated.    In its place was installed PACT’s first experience in new-age portaging- a hand-powered trolley.  

After familiarizing ourselves with Trolley Operations and Safety Rules (Provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Ontario) we secured our vessel to the dolly and began to crank the giant red wheel.  About three minutes and 30 meters later our canoe dipped nicely into the calm, swampy waters of Turtle Lake.  An amusing episode that put the power of portage into our arms.

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A Party Fit For A Voyageur

Talk about a show of support!

Last Thursday over a hundred PACT supporters packed into Roots on Bloor Street, as we celebrated the successful completion of our journey with a sensational evening of happiness, hugs, photos and cocktails.  We are incredibly thankful for the friends, family and representatives of our three Outdoor Education partners, CCI, PINE Project and Camp Outlook, who took the time to join us. Kudos to PACT member Peter for speaking on behalf of the paddlers and being able to successfully get through it. Thank you to all who joined us on this special night.    

To have a wrap party at Roots was very fitting for us. Without their support, our journey would not have been possible.  Thanks to the stores for continually sending us letters and art of encouragement, and to those lucky stores who had to hold onto our food boxes while waiting patiently to unload them onto the paddlers. We always looked forward to your warm reception.

We must also take this opportunity to thank Sue Kupka and Robert Sarner.   Sue’s cubicle was filled with boxes of beans, lentils, extra underwear and toilet paper for months while she arranged all of the PACT resupplies across Canada.  She was also dealing with PACT issues, emails and packages from loved ones.  Working alongside Office Jill, she too made our lives in the woods possible.  

Robert has been a huge advocate for PACT since beginning and spoke very kind words on Thursday evening and presented PACT with a donation from Roots customers and employees from all across the nation.

The evening continued down the road at the Quail and Firkin on Younge. Once again our social convener Anne Goad, who so masterfully arranged our going away fundraiser, organized a great time for all at the Firkin. She even involved her parents as photographers, snapping candids from the Roots store to the wee hours of the night. Thanks to the Goads for their involvement and support.

Great times and a late night had by all.

Thanks everyone. Just Thanks.

What’s next? There will be more picture sorting and the continuation of blog writing, with special trip reflections from each of the paddlers. We are currently in the planning stages of a speaking tour. Please email if you think our story would be right for your group.

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an open letter of gratitude to Camp Quin-Mo-Lac

Letter written for the Quin-Mo-Lac Alumni Newsletter, Spring 2013. Three of the six crew members spent their formative years and met at the residential summer camp.

Dear Camp Quin-Mo-Lac

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We all subscribe to the benefits that summer camp brings to children, and certainly the lasting impact of a particular camp located on the south shore of Moria Lake.  I would to present another piece of evidence towards this forgone conclusion.

Beginning this spring, three QML Alumni are embarking on an adventure that directly stems from the experiences and friendships that we garnered at Camp Quin-Mo-Lac. Hollye Ervine (AD 2009), Scott Graham (AD 2006-7) and myself are joining three others in paddling across Canada to benefit Outdoor Education organizations in Ontario. The journey spans from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, to Lachine, Quebec – a distance of roughly 5000km. In a nod to our Canadian heritage, our crew will be paddling in a 25’ voyageur canoe. We feel this is the ultimate Canadian experience, combining landscape, history and community – all things instilled in us during our formative years at QML. We learned how to canoe, learned environmental stewardship and the importance of team building and community living from our beloved and humble summer camp home.

We are thrilled that the QML Board of Directors have donated the paddles for our journey. We will be using long rectangle bladed voyageur style paddles, manufactured by Voyageur Canoe of Millbrook, Ontario.

On behalf myself, Scott and Hollye, I would like to deeply thank the Whites, Camp Quin-Mo-Lac and its community, for the years of guidance, compassion and for instilling a love for the Great Outdoors that have lead to our grand adventure.  

In Sincere Gratitude,

Peter Vooys


Camp Quin-Mo-Lac’er from 1993-2007
www.paddleacrosscanadatour.org

We Made It!

On Thursday, September 12th, PACT arrived in Lachine, Quebec, completing our 5000km journey across Canada.  After a night of thunder and lightning, we began day 120 in the pouring rain.  A few hours later, the sky was blue and the sun was shinning  as we arrived at the Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site. 

Thanks so much to all of our family and friends who came out for an incredible welcome! 

While our journey may be over, PACT’s mission is far from complete….

 

Website

Please continue to check our website for new blogs, photos and events!

We have many more stories, photos and memories to share.

 

Pictures

If you happened upon PACT paddling by this summer and snapped a good photo or two, we’d love to add them to our archives.   Please email pictures 2013pact@gmail.com

 

PACT Finale Celebration

Our journey over and we can't wait to celebrate with all of our biggest supporters! Roots Canada is hosting a welcome-home reception, so come on out to see some photos, hear about our journey and give us a high-five! Snacks and refreshments will be provided, and the party will continue at The Quail and Firkin for those interested in making a night of it!

To attend please send an email to rsvp@roots.com with your name and number of guests before September 24th.

 

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6:00 - 8:00pm

Roots on Bloor

100 Bloor Street West

Toronto, ON

M5S 3L3

 

After 8:00pm

The Quail and Firkin

1055 Yonge St.

Toronto, ON

M4W 2L2

 

 

PACTalks

We would love to share our story!  If know of any schools, outdoor education centers, camps, community groups or ANYONE who would be interested in a presentation, please email us at 2013pact@gmail.com

 

Too close to call?

We're a little behind on our blogs. Let me explain.
We've been pushing ourselves lately. As we have moved into more and more urban landscapes, our trip has taken on an 'Amazing Race' quality. There are still the challenges of a long distance canoe trip, plus friends and family checkpoints, resupply pickup checkpoints, and media/PR checkpoints. All of that sounds the norm for PACT, but we've added another twist - a deadline! We have picked an end date which has given us a great adrenaline rush to the finish in Lachine.


We are excited to announce our predicted arrival date and time. Come welcome us at the finish line at the Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site for September 12th, 2013, at 3pm.

This will put us at 120 days on trip.
We're currently in Ottawa with just under 200km to go.
Will we make our prediction?
The countdown is on!

The Adventures of Bert and Tommy

After an amazingly delicious and entertaining meatball-filled night on Squirrel Island, we had to say goodbye to the tightly knit community of cottagers and push on towards Montreal. Or so we thought.

Peter had been battling a stomach bug for just over a week at that point and he was only getting worse. His body needed rest and our hosts, John and Sylvia, had offered to give Peter some much needed TLC for the day and drop him off wherever we could get to that evening.

Thing is, it’s a 6 person boat. It’s a 6 person trip! Bert to the rescue. Amidst the Squirrel Island gang was a 75 year old legend named Bert. He built his own cabin from scratch. He can fix anything in the world, and he and his wife Ramona still paddle around the island every time they get the chance. Bert knows a lot about the old voyageurs and even more about the outdoors, so he volunteered to fill Pete’s seat in the boat. “WHY NOT?” he said.

He was welcomed with a huge headwind on Lake George that persisted throughout most of the day. He injected the boat with a new personality and 75 years of stories to share. He showed us shortcuts and kept the boat moving at a steady pace. It would be hard for anyone to jump in and paddle stroke for stroke with a team that had been doing it for 98 days but he never stopped pushing, until we got to his brother in law Tom’s cottage down the lake where we set up for the night.

Tom and his wife Sharon welcomed Bert and our team with caesars, pulled pork, homemade pie and inexplicable excitement and hospitality. As we continued to celebrate Bert’s accomplishment and share jokes and stories back and forth, it became obvious that Pete would benefit from another day of rest under Sylvia’s care.

Tommy had witnessed Bert’s day in our boat from his jet ski and after a couple of drinks he realized that he could do it too. From there ‘The Diesel’ was born. Tommy took the day off planning his 70th birthday to singlehandedly paddle the 5 remaining crewmembers to Thessalon - roughly 45km east of his property.

We woke up, regrouped from the party the night before, ate another delicious breakfast on their patio and started towards our destination with a full fleet in the canoe. Tom not only shared his gifts of accents and comedy with our team but he even showed us the area’s hidden gems. We got a chance to cliff jump off Whiskey Rock and used the day’s tailwind to sail right into a beautiful beach site for lunch.

At the end of our day together, Sharon met us in Thessalon with another delicious meal as we debriefed another memorable day in the boat. Bert and Tommy not only helped us get to where we needed to go, but they kept the conversations new and exciting and showed us that spontaneity and adventure are not just for the young. They fit in perfectly and treated us as equals. They made 70’s look like the new 20’s and truly inspired us all.

To Tommy, Sharon, Bert, Ramona, Sylvia, John, Gregg, Ilene and everyone else we got to meet over the past couple of days…THANK YOU! You treated a bunch of strangers like family and we will always remember you for it. We love you!