Family Begins 4-Month Canoe Trip Across Canada


Moving to a new city can be stressful, but one Canadian family is turning their relocation into an incredible journey as they plan to canoe across Canada. 

Launching on May 1 from Capilano Park in Edmonton, this adventurous family of three is paddling by canoe to their new home in Montreal, a trip they anticipate will take about four months, reports the BBC.

Last summer, Benoit Gendreau-Berthiaume, wife Magali Moffatt and son Mali paddled 450 kilometers from Edmonton to North Battleford, Saskatchewan indulging in a favorite hobby and testing their abilities on the water.

For Benoit, it’s been an intense year finishing up his PhD in Forestry Ecology at the University of Alberta. This outdoorsy couple was ready to slow down the pace as a family and find a way to spend more quality time together and decided that the 3500 kilometer canoe journey was the ideal way to do that.

After a year of planning, their route was mapped out: following the North Saskatchewan River to Prince Albert, then portage overland to connect with the Assiniboine River that will bring them to Winnipeg and upstream to the lakes – Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Then it’s on to the French River and a final stretch to Montreal on the Ottawa River.

By road, the trip would take 35 hours of driving. Paddling will take nearly four months, with a rest day anticipated every three to five days depending on the difficulty of the terrain.

Five-year-old Mali has been going on adventures with his parents since he was an infant – backpacking, cross-country skiing, and the test-run canoe trip last summer. He’ll be busy on this trip too, trying his luck fishing with a stick, twine, and raisins, and listening to stories about that natural world along the banks they pass. The longest any of the family has ever paddled before was two weeks, but Benoit believes they’ll find a rhythm and enjoy the ride.

Magali says the training runs have prepared the family for the slower, almost meditative pace of life on the water where “you get up, you eat, you paddle all day and talk to your family.” They will live outside, camping along the route. They’ve set out with enough food for several weeks and arranged for friends to leave supplies at designated points along the way.

The initial concern of family and friends over this unusual journey has been calmed by the couples’ care in planning and knowing technology will keep them in touch. The pair set up a blog and a Facebook page so they can share updates and pictures. These modern-day adventurers will follow some of the same routes as Canada’s early 18th century fur traders who traveled the country in canoes to trade with the Ojibwe tribe for pelts and food.

Realistically, the couple anticipates some miserable days when the weather doesn’t cooperate and the family will be cold and tired. But they also hope their journey will encourage other Canadians to enjoy the outdoors and to realize how attainable great family adventures can be.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons by M.Prinke