Day of 1,000 Canoes, Grand River Canoe Festival

Paddlers had a beautiful day last Saturday to take a leisurely float down the Grand River as part of the yearly event, Day of 1,000 Canoes. In its fourth year now, this year’s event had around 450 participants who paddled, hiked and biked from Caledonia to Cayuga.

According to their website, “The idea behind Day of 1000 Canoes is community. Getting together with our community, promoting it to folks in other communities and everyone enjoying one of the greatest local natural resources, the Grand River.”

Event organizer Shane Carmichael told the Two Row Times “we started this event in 2011 so we’re in our fourth year now. The whole idea behind it is to create and promote eco-tourism along the Grand River and to promote a unity paddle between Caledonia and Six Nations. Aka:we Canoe Club (on Six Nations) is the host canoe club each year. We basically want to try and ensure that economic development is being utilized in a positive way.”

Carmichael stated the event is growing slowly each year. “We’re currently experiencing a tough economy, which may be a result of the harsh winter we had this year. But despite the current downturn, we’ve seen an increase in numbers this year. Next year we’re looking to expand the event.”

The itinerary of the day includes an opening address of Ganohonyok done by Cam Staats, followed by a canoe launch in Caledonia and a paddle to York and Ruthven where paddlers, hikers and bikers are encouraged to stop and relax and have a bite to eat. The final destination is Cayuga where festivities take place. Argyle Street Grill served perch dinners to participants, after which participants took a shuttle bus back to Caledonia.

The Day of 1,000 Canoes website explains, “Through the beauty of the landscape, the bounty of the season, and the openness, creativity and generosity of the people, visitors will experience a memorable, heart-warming trip where the journey is the destination.”

Carmichael explains, “the negative media attention that came out of the Caledonia land dispute 8 years ago was one of the motivating factors in creating this event. We are trying to create positivity and let others know that both Six Nations and Caledonia are open to tourism. To turn negative media into something positive is the way it should be.”
Six Nations participant Barb General had this to say, “I had a good time teaching my son Tadus how to canoe, he was so worried we would flip but we didn’t. There were so many shallow parts throughout the waterway that probably comforted his fear. I would say to everyone interested in doing the paddle next year, to go ahead and experience it, it’s a leisurely trip and make sure you take some one who compliments your nature. I loved the trip because it was with my son. Also bring plenty of sunscreen and water.”

Paddlers came from Caledonia, Cayuga, Six Nations Hamilton and Simcoe, to name a few. Carmichael also explained that he is currently in discussions with Aka:we Canoe Club to host a similar event in the fall where paddlers will canoe to the Caledonia dam and back to Chiefswood Park. “The event is called Fall Colors Paddle and will be in September or early October,” stated Carmichael.



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