Ottawa River, ON - Peter Croal
In June of 1970 I was 15. My 15 year old friend and I decided to do a canoe trip on the Ottawa River to have an "adventure". It was a 9 day trip and we started north of Pembroke Ontario. We were complete newcomers to canoeing but our respective parents thought we could handle the challenges. Our gear was old and flimsy, our canoe was an 18 foot heavy cedar strip beast and our food was mostly canned and also heavy. But we kitted up, looked downriver with anticipation, said good-bye to our parents on the shore and pushed off for the quintessential Canadian adventure.
In those 9 days we got lost, battled insane bugs, storms, smoked too many cigarettes, found bars that would sell us beer and came across beach parties with questionable characters. But that trip was a success. We paddled to Ottawa and were met by our parents and Britannia Beach in Ottawa. Our reputations intact we stepped ashore with immense smiles, pride, hugs and backslapping all around. This trip cemented in our souls the desire to do more wilderness travel and was instrumental in my career choice a geologist. And it was canoeing that brought my wife and I together for over 30 years now.
To me, paddling in the bush is one of the most joyous things one can ever do in life. Thank you so much Ottawa River for all that you taught me about me and this amazing planet.