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Cross-country canoeists pass by

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A group of six canoeists with the Paddle Across Canada Tour (PACT) passed through Rainy River District late last week.

The group, which started their trek from the national historic site at Rocky Mountain House, Alta. on May 16, is travelling 5,000 km of Canada’s rivers and lakes to retrace the path of the early voyageurs and explorers.

They’ll eventually arrive at Lachine, Que.—the traditional departure point for the North-West Company.

“It’s going to take us between 120 and 130 days,” noted team leader Peter Vooys.

“We just had a real slugfest coming upstream from the Winnipeg River and then upstream on Rainy River, so we’re excited to get the height of the land outside Quetico and go downstream from there,” he added.

The team also includes Marissa Sieck, Hollye Ervine, James Humpston, Marc Soberano, and Scott Graham.

The sextet is “self-contained,” meaning they carry all of their food, supplies, and gear with them.

Towns along their route prove to be good re-supply points for fresh vegetables to eat or any hardware that might have broken in their travels, said Vooys.

You can follow the team’s progress at paddleacrosscanadatour.org

“We have a tracking system, so it tracks us every hour and puts a little dot through space, and you can see our route through the country, the waterways we’re taking, and see how fast we’re going,” Vooys explained.

He added the tracking system has given a good number of friends, family, and sponsors peace of mind given it’s a very long journey.

But Vooys said the journey to him is “living a dream.”

“We’re travelling old fur trader routes,” he noted. “We’re travelling in a modern fur trade canoe with fiberglass instead of birch bark, thankfully.

“It’s really inspiring to be able to paddle across Canada in a way that’s been done for hundreds, thousands of years—hundreds for the Europeans, thousands for First Nations,” added Vooys.

“And it’s inspiring to meet Canadians along the way.”

PACT also is raising awareness of—and money for—outdoor education.

These include the southern Ontario charities of Camp Outlook of Kingston, The P.I.N.E. Project of Toronto, and Couchiching Community Initiative of Orillia.

“These are three organizations we either have worked with or we know who’s running it,” said Vooys.

“They do different things, but typically they target under-privileged children or youth at risk or just people who don’t have the opportunity . . . to go out experience the outdoors,” he noted.

Vooys also said the group, most of whom hail from southern Ontario (although Sieck originally is from Houston, Tex. while Humpston is from Perth, Australia), have found out that residents from many parts of Canada are more in touch with the outdoors that those from their neck of the woods.

Anyone who would like to donate to the above charities can do so on paddleacrosscanadatour.org or the respective charity’s website.

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