Well the New Year brings about a lot of planning and this includes a critical review of what worked and what didn’t work over the past year!  An integral component was missing in the photography department and that was me!  I wasn’t in any action shots!  When you feature a dry suit company you can rest assured they want to see their product in action!  Some trips featured moving water and what more fun can you have than capturing all features of a trip through the rapids.

Andy Phillips from Composite Creations referred me to someone after talking with me about the predicament.  Well, today was the day for a shopping trip to ramp up the gear and provide another angle to the coming and going of our trips.  On the way down the 400 highway I thought to myself, “Things are starting to come into focus for this year.”

Across the Gardiner Expressway and off at Kipling.  Across Evans Ave. to Eastwick and a quick left onto Oxford and here I was; right out front of The Complete Paddler.

A selection of watercraft on the racks out front and as I walked up the drive, the door made it abundantly clear the “paddling” was spoken, here!  In I walked and the first person I saw was Kelly McDowell, President.  Kelly was tied up with some customers but it was a great feeling when he kind of hesitated and gave that, “Hey, I know you” look.  In fact, it was last May when Kelly and I were last together at the Palmer Rapids River Festival.

I panned around the store for a bit and admired the various craft available on display. There was everything from the classics, being a pair of cedar canvas jewels, one being a Chestnut and then we went through the SUP’s to the folding kayaks and canoes to the Abitibi and Bluewater canoes and right through a wide variety of tandem and solo kayaks.

It was the accessories department in electronics that I was interested in and I was not to be disappointed.  The display rack held about a dozen of the SJCAM SJ4000 WiFi sport camera.  The video showed a kayaker putting the camera through its paces and the video was very smooth.  The blues from the sky were spot on and overall the other colours were very bright while remaining realistic.  I’d read somewhere that the SJ’s had some kind of bounce to the videos, however after spending quite a bit of time watching the various runs the paddler took, I figured I’d be thrilled to turn out some comparable videos.

How does this camera fall into the plans for this year?  Very simply put, I can have one camera facing forward while the second faces aft and it looks like a lesson in editing is on the horizon.  This will ensure action shots from all around the canoe and that’s exactly what I want.  This camera offers a reasonable expense for what looks to be some fantastic capabilites so I’m confident it is going to be a worthwhile addition to the gear department.

Now as far as the history lesson goes, Kelly and I were talking and through the course of conversation he mentioned this building we were in was actually the Evergreen Canoe store for Toronto.  In the photos you will see a block wall tothe right of the barn doors that say “SHOP”.  Behind the block wall was the wood working shop where the gunwales etc. were built and behind the shop doors is where the hulls would come in to have the wood applied to finish the canoes!  Talk about a walk down memory lane.  Evergreen was, and still is, a much sought after canoe!

With the open water season approaching I’m going to have to become very familair with the operation of the video cams as well as the editing process.  A special thanks to Andy for steering me on this one.  Kelly, it was a real pleasure seeing you again today and I thank you for all your input and assistance.  These are two guys that really go to the wall for paddling and fully understand my need to get my drysuit from Mythic Gear out in front and preferably above the surface.

Thanks to all for your continued support and I’m really excited about what we may bring to you this coming year!




This time of year is one that can make, or break a person! Demands are everywhere and the stress levels can reach breaking point unless you take a moment to sit back and unwind and that’s exactly what I’m doing.
It’s fun to look back and see what you accomplished over the year and compare this to the goals you wanted to reach.
January saw me drive to London, in a snow storm, to buy a white water canoe as running rapids was on my list. April 1st saw me in the river (and I do mean IN) followed by another run on my birthday, and then again with a band of crazies for the end of the month.
May brought me to a white water weekend at Palmer Rapids with Paddler Co-op, and I still laugh today when I think of Melissa saying that fun water level was around 60 to 65 cms. When I asked what current levels were at she replied, “About 292!”.
There were several attempts to get trips put together but something called life seemed to get in the way! As a result several day paddles hit the books and some new places were found. Any regrets….not a one! I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason.
I wanted to do a big river this year and while neither are the Missinaibi or Dumoine, I was very happy to paddle the Mattawa River and delighted to return to the French River, both as key heritage waterways.
The fleet changed over the year and this year we expanded to 10 canoes. I was happy to assist with a paddling for cancer cause and I’m thrilled to say I will return for the 2018 event. Personally, I challenged myself more this year and feel that I’ve grown in my skills sets and confidence.
So while the year isn’t closed off as yet, I have to mention a highlight for 2017 in that I paddled on December 9th in a snow fall and did manage to encounter some ice. So all in all, this year has given me the earliest and the latest I’ve been on the water and included some new routes to explore.  Thanks to everyone who was a part in helping, joining in. or providing that pat on the back for encouragement….it was very well received and I’m grateful.
This year has been considered a big success so now is the time to start planning on making 2018 an even better year.  Think I’ll write everything down over a Scotch while sitting in my hot tent in Algonquin Park on a snowy New Year’s Eve.