Canoeing across Canada

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Trans CanEAUda project to attempt 7,000-km paddling journey in May 2011

Jaehoon Kim
The Fulcrum (University of Ottawa)

OTTAWA (CUP) — “It’s amazing that the longest portage to cross Canada is just 23 kilometres by foot,” explained Alexandre Bevington, a fourth-year physical geography student from the University of Ottawa.

Bevington is part of the Trans CanEAUda team that is planning to embark on a 7,000 km canoe trip this May, starting from the Rideau River and ending at Inuvik, N.W.T.

The eight-person team consisting of students and recent graduates – including five affiliated with the U of O – is hoping to raise awareness and money for Canadian environmental issues through their six-month-long journey across the nation.

“What we hope to do is to cross a bunch of watersheds and to explore their states,” explained Dalal Hanna, a fifth-year environmental science student and member of the Trans CanEAUda team. “We’re affiliated [with] an organization called Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and their mandate is to preserve and protect Canadian wilderness, [especially] Canadian watersheds.

“We hope to raise $7,000 for them – a dollar for every kilometre.”

Everyone in the group has some experience with paddling – some more than others. All eight members do have expertise in various fields of outdoor recreation and the team is hoping that their amalgamation of skills will serve them well on their expedition.

“Some people have a lot of experience in mountaineering, but have only been on a two-day canoe trip,” said Hanna. “Others have guided 20-day trips.”

“We all have [different] backgrounds, but maybe it will work out well because we’re all experts of different things,” added Bevington.

In order to prepare for the gruelling 7,000 km trek, Hanna and others have already begun their training regimen. Although each member is looking forward to testing their physical and mental endurance on a daily basis, the team’s main goal is to complete their trip injury-free.

“We’re developing a plan with a physiotherapist right now for training,” said Hanna. “There’s a cardio aspect to it – about 45 minutes to an hour everyday. Then we have to do stretches to keep our bodies in shape. Also, there’s a lot of muscular training, especially arms, shoulders and abdominals.

“We need to be strong so that we don’t get injuries from repetitive movements. It’s mostly for protection. We’re not extremely worried about breaking speed records, although everybody wants to keep a good pace. The important thing is to stay safe and not get hurt. After six months, we’ll be carved out of steel,” said Bevington with a laugh.

The team is also organizing solutions for emergency situations and navigational problems that may arise on the trip.

“We’ll have at least four people there who will be well qualified in first aid,” explained Bevington. “We have all the equipment we need plus a satellite phone and a GPS beacon. We’re trying to cover all our grounds.

“[Also], right after Lake Superior, there’s a whole portion of the trip that crosses in and out of the United States and it’s a huge maze of islands. We’ll have to buy a pass for [border crossing].”

The whole project is estimated to cost around $25,000, with a worst-case scenario budget of $50,000 if the team has to buy all new equipment without any fundraising. Trans CanEAUda already has a few sponsors, but is hoping to attract more in the upcoming months.

“We already have a lot of outdoor equipment and some sponsors, but we are always open for more sponsors and also governmental grants,” said Bevington. “Any extra money we make, we’ll put towards our cause.”

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