Charleson Recreation Area
Bow to Stern Canoe Association Image GalleryCharleson Receation AreaCharleson Recreation Area / Are You Ready?

New name, extra events, for the Canada Day canoe races

The Bow to Stern Association is making a 'Splash' this summer.

In its third year, the Canada Day canoe race is being renamed the Atikokan Canoe Splash to reflect the association's efforts to broaden the event to include the whole family.

"We wanted to make it a more community-oriented event," said the Bow to Stern Association's Spencer Meany, of the formerly dubbed XY Canoe Race. "We started out with just the pro race because we weren't too experienced, so we wanted to have people with experience in order to make the event run smoothly. Now, we want to branch off; we have the recreation class last year, and we want to make it more of a festive atmosphere, rather than just a race."

For that reason, the Association has decided to stick with holding the event on Canada Day even though it falls on a Wednesday this year – rather than on a weekend, as the three previous races have. Organizers hope the Splash can add to the energy surrounding Atikokan and Quetico 100th activities, including the provincial canoe championships happening at French Lake the following day (July 2). "We're hoping paddlers will come early for our race, as well as that race," said Meany.

The first place prize (for the winner of both the sprint and pursuit portions) this year has been raised to $1,000, and a variety of other prizes will be awarded for both pro and recreation classes. "Again, our local merchants have been tremendous; especially when we're all facing hard economic times, we didn't expect [the same level of prize donations] this year, but everybody is stepping up."

Also new this year will be the use of professional timing equipment for the races, recently purchased by the Charleson Recreation Assoc. Although typically used for most sporting events including triathalons, official timing equipment is not so commonly used in canoe racing, said Meany. "We're hoping to give our race a little more of a modern feel. It's really exciting for us."

The Splash begins at 9:30 a.m., with the pro class' sprint portion involving paddling the length of Steep Rock Lake, beyond a bouy at Wagita Bay Dam, and returning to the start-finish line. The river pursuit then takes the racers down Apungsisagen Lake to Tracey Rapids, before looping back to head down the Atikokan River to complete a total of 30 kilometres at Legion Point. (Prizes will be awarded for both the sprint and pursuit portions).

The recreation class event will be considerably shorter than the pro, with the route and number of categories yet to be determined based on the amount and diversity of entries, said Meany. Canoe teams can register for pro ($80) and recreation ($20) right up until the morning of the event.

The pro race will likely take between three and four hours to complete, and both classes will meet at Legion Point for a BBQ, prizes and other events.

The Bow to Stern is still looking for volunteers to help out at the Splash, and longer term, needs more board members. (It currently has six). The Association formed to make the event an annual one after XY Co. owner Meany organized the inaugural pro race in 2007. This year they received funding through the AEDC to hire a person to promote the event, and now that the position has come open again, the committee is hoping to hire someone to continue that role.

In addition to expanding the Canada Day event, over time, the Bow to Stern plans to host more canoeing activities, said Meany.

"Now that we've gained some experience, we're hoping to have more fun events."

- Atikokan Progress on June 15, 2009