The annual celebration of the Shubenacadie waterway was spread over three days this year, featuring different parts of the river and highlighting two new paddling access points along the way.
DAY ONE: First was a small event on 17 June to mark the inauguration of the paddle dock in Lantz. This new entry point was created by the Municipality of East Hants in a recently acquired park development right on Green Road. This section of the river has now been designated as an official part of the Trans Canada Trail. Seven paddlers joined in on a rainy morning and paddled to East Milford where they were met by a representative of the Recreation Department from the municipality and a post-event luncheon.
DAY TWO: On Canada Day, the second part of the summer’s activities took place, starting at the new dock in East Milford.
Here, the Municipality of East Hants installed the first fully accessible paddle dock in the Province of Nova Scotia. Disabled paddlers can access the site and enter/exit the water with ease.
As above, this section of the river is an official part of the Trans Canada Trail and it made a perfect starting point for the Canada Day 150 paddle to the Village of Shubenacadie.
Twenty eager paddlers, including two guides, braved yet another day of steady rain and followed the current the full 7 km. to the established canoe/kayak dock at the Village of Shubenacadie.
DAY THREE - THE MAIN EVENT: Promised better weather, 38 paddlers braved the renowned tidal conditions on the Shubenacadie River and came away with broad smiles on their faces, after a 39 km. paddle all the way to Maitland on the Bay of Fundy.
When you add in the family members and other spectators who came along to watch the fun, there are a lot more folks who now appreciate how beautiful the lower portion of the Shubenacadie Canal and Waterway is and what a pleasure it can be to experience it first hand… from water level.
The event started in the village of Shubenacadie and was timed to miss any actual incoming wave of tidal water and to ensure that the paddlers experienced the very best which the Shubenacadie River can offer. The weather was partly sunny but cool in the morning and with such a colourful display kayaks, canoes and safety boats on the water, it was a beautiful scene.
Paddlers were given a briefing on river conditions beforehand by experienced paddlers familiar with the river and then tracked for the whole route by safety boats from Shubenacadie River Runners outfitters. Added to that, several colonies of bald eagles kept a careful eye out enroute.
The biggest concern for the organizers was the provision of enough safety boats to cover the potential rough spots on the river, including Caddell Rapids, Anthony’s Nose and a spot of low water just north of the Gosse Bridge. The river is a beautiful place to paddle but at certain tide times extra caution is required to ensure it is a safe and fun experience.
Due to high winds at South Maitland on the lower part of the river a few of the less experienced paddlers went ashore to be met by a shuttle bus which took them the rest of the way to Maitland.
Canoe to the Sea 2017 was followed by a luncheon, the awarding of prizes and a few trophies for the happy finishers, including Paul Pilon and Karen Fowler. As it has since 1989, the event provided a high-profile activity for the waterway plus a very positive experience for the paddlers. Hopefully, the sponsors, including the Shubenacadie Canal Commission, agreed.
- Allan Billard, 6 September 2017