Did you meet your sweetheart on a canoe trip? Did you paddle up to the altar to get married?  Did you honeymoon in Algonquin?  Were PFDs and paddles a normal part of dating life for you and your partner? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ll definitely want to check out some of the winners from the #CanoeLove Contest and the Museum’s newest exhibition Can I Canoe You Up the River?  The Story of Paddling and Romance.

In April, the Museum ran a contest (#CanoeLove) looking for your ‘canoelove’ stories, images or videos for a chance to be featured in the newest exhibition Can I Canoe You Up the River?  The Story of Paddling and Romance and to win great prizes (including the grand prize – a sweet pair of paddles from Badger Paddles). Take a look at all of the winners below (winners were selected at random).

Thanks to Stacy and Kevin for submitting the photo above!

Contest Winners

GRAND PRIZE WINNER – James and Elisabeth Bacque. Winner of 2 Badger Paddles and a Museum Family Membership. Here’s their story:

“When we became engaged in the fall of 1954 we began to plan a honeymoon canoe trip in Algonquin Park. Our first purchase was a pair of zip-together Woods sleeping bags, the second, a beautiful fifteen foot red Peterborough canoe (cost $125.00). How were we going to transport the canoe on our small Austin convertible? One day we saw a convertible with an ingenious aluminum canoe rack, followed it into an office parking garage and asked the owner if he could make us one too. He did and on July 22 1955 we were off.

Our twelve day honeymoon trip up Opeongo Lake and on to Brent in a heat wave, was only the beginning of many years of  tripping in northern Ontario and Quebec, including some exciting times in white water.

In 2004, forty-nine years after our honeymoon, we returned to the landing on Opeongo Lake. With the help of “sherpas” on the portage and a ride up the lake, we found our original campsite on the island in Happy Isle Lake. This time the weather was awful, thunderstorms and rain for four days. We huddled under a tarp, read The Life of Pi, and watched enormous green slugs climb up our packs. The sun didn’t shine until we were paddling out from a memorable second honeymoon. 

Our Peterborough canoe (often repaired and  re-canvassed) is still in use, now by our children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. We still love it and each other.” – James and Elisabeth

April 30 – Tom Brandau. Winner of 15′ canoe tie-down straps and a Museum Family Membership. Here is his story:

Paddling Canadian solo on Grousehaven Lake one misty morning we completed a figure 8 pattern, meeting in the middle, we bent in towards each other for a kiss. Little did we know, our friend Rick was watching from shore and captured this photo of us which we’ll always treasure.” – Tom. 


April 29 – Charlotte Gick. Winner of a set of replica vintage playing cards, a copy of the Museum’s latest publication Can I Canoe You Up the River? The Story of Paddling and Romance and a Museum Family Membership. Here’s her story: 

“The picture below is of my grandparents, Francis Hayes and John Gick. This is only their second date! They went to my grandmother’s best friend’s cottage on the labour day long weekend of 1939, and heard news of the declaration of war while there. 

My grandmother has no insight into whether this news had any impact on the rather early on canoe make out. They married six years later and had 5 children and 9 grandchildren, whom were raised with a love of canoes at the family cottage in St Donat Quebec. My grandfather has passed but my grandmother is still going strong at the ripe old age of 95! She really enjoyed the idea of this photo being part of a photo exhibit on canoes.” – Charlotte

April 28 – Chloe Vance. Winner of a metro picnic basket (with insulated tote and waterproof interior and an expandable drawstring top) and a Museum Family Membership. Here’s her story: 

“On September 17th 2011, my Ray Kettlewell ottertail paddle plied the glassy waters of Lake of Bays as I soloed toward the cottage dock, packed with family, friends and my husband-to-be. The Indian summer sun was warm on my face and a lake breeze fluttered the white feathers on my wedding dress as my cedar strip canoe glided across the lake. A year earlier, my hubby had proposed on that same dock, at sunset. Ten years earlier, it was there that our love of each other, paddling and adventure began. Short paddles at the cottage had flowed into leading trips for summer camps in Muskoka and beyond. Soon, we were guiding Arctic river expeditions, together, under the midnight sun.

Back on the cottage dock, with the ceremony complete, we pushed off in the Langford cedar strip for our first paddle as a married couple. Now, wherever we are on September 17th, we take to the bow and stern seats to paddle on our anniversary and continue the flow of our journey together.” – Chloe. Photos by Mike Last Photography (https://www.facebook.com/mikelastphoto). 

April 27 – Jo and John McRogers. Winner of a copy of the Museum’s most recent publication Can I Canoe You Up the River? The Story of Paddling and Romance and a Museum Family Membership. Here is their story and a great voyageur canoe photo they submitted: 

“on October 2nd 1993, my wife and I approached from either end of the lake in Voyageur (Montreal) canoes … on Chapel Island (Camp Kandalore) my niece read the Tanganyikan fisherman’s prayer to our guests: O Spirit, grant us a calm lake, little wind, little rain, so that the canoes may proceed well, so that they may proceed speedily (the prayer was more than answered as we got a little snow that day too) … the canoes crossed, the balloons let fly, we landed and exchanged our vows…” – Jo and John

April 26 – Denise Evans. Winner of 15′ canoe tie-down straps and a Museum Family Membership. Here is her story and photos:

“Every significant event of my relationship involves a canoe. Our friendship, engagement, wedding day, honeymoon, and I even gave birth in a canoe. Ok, that last part isn’t true, but I did liken labour to the hardest longest muddiest humid mosquito ridden portage you’ve ever done. The feeling at the end is similar too: you feel exhausted, look like a mess, but you also feel tougher than any human in the world and have an amazing view at the end (ok, my baby is a much greater reward than the view at the end of a portage…but the rest is the same).

My husband and I knew each other from working together at a summer camp. We didn’t become close friends until years later when we both returned to the camp to run a 3 week canoe tripping program together. We hadn’t talked since our younger days at camp, so we didn’t realize that besides running the canoe tripping camp together in August, we both signed up for an intensive outdoor certification program in July, that involved a 15 day canoe trip on the Missinabe River. Spending the summer tripping together made us instant best buds. We continued running the tripping camp together for four years as friends. Many people were suspicious that there was more to us than friendship, but in all honesty there wasn’t…Until one day when we decided to go on a road trip through Algonquin Park. I don’t know exactly what it was, but we realized how perfectly matched we were while driving through the park day dreaming about canoe trips we wanted to go on together.

It wasn’t much time before Brent proposed. We spent the May long weekend at the paddling festival in Palmer Rapids, but headed to Bon Echo Provincial Park for the last night of the weekend. We paddled out to the beautiful cliffs to look at the pictographs, when Brent got down on one knee in the middle of the canoe and proposed. Our rings are made of rosewood, and inlaid with Quarts that we picked up in Killarney (one of our favorite canoe spots).

We had thoughts of getting married at a cottage up north, but didn’t want family and friends to have to spend too much money or travel too far. So we decided to get married at a beautiful greenhouse and garden centre close to where we lived. We were willing to negotiate on location, but both Brent and I would not give up our one wedding demand: to get in a canoe on our big day. Before the ceremony we headed down to the Holland River. Brent and I got some time to ourselves to enjoy each others company on the water before we tied the knot. It was definitely a highlight of the day.

Of course we were on the water for much of our honeymoon. We spent 5 weeks out west that included paddling on the Columbia and White rivers, an 8 day canoe trip in Bowron Lakes Provincial Park, and two weeks in Haida Gwaii.

The last chapter to my story is our beautiful daughter Cora. We decided we wanted to start a family two summers ago. To celebrate this decision, and to kick things off right, we went on a canoe trip near Halliburton. We were very lucky and found out we were pregnant right away. Cora was born last May and has already been in a canoe more than once.” ~ Denise   

April 25 – Krista Kerr. Winner of 2 Museum Martini Glasses and a Museum Family Membership. Here is her story:

“My now husband proposed to me while on an interior canoe trip at Killarney Provincial Park. He woke me up at sunrise (something I was initially very unpleased about) on our last day to ask me to marry him! Bleary eyed I said yes! We paddled out that day and I was so paranoid of loosing my new ring I kept it in the pocket of my lifejacket. By far the best canoe trip of my many years doing them. Six years later we are planning our first canoe trip with our three year old and we can’t wait to introduce her to the pleasure of a quite lake, a canoe and a paddle. – with Darryl Lee.” ~ Krista

April 24 – Jo Smith. Winner of a Museum shirt (colour and size of her choosing) and a Museum Family Membership. Here is a photo from her engagement on the Nahanni River and her story:

“It was a warm summer morning when I set off with my group of 8 women into Algonquin Park for a weekend guided trip. My clients were much older and no doubt more experienced then me but it was my first season guiding in the Park and I was still very excited about my new job. A co worker of mine had said to me, “If you see a guide by the name of Matt can you please give him back his leatherman I borrowed.” I agreed and set off towards Craig Lake. The first portage we all came to I saw a man carrying a canoe on his head and asked if he was Matt? Success it was!! I handed him his leatherman and introduced myself, “Hello Jill” he said in haste and carried on his way down the portage trail. I think I must have muffled my name as it was in fact Jo and not Jill.

The summer raced on by and I was gaining more guiding experience and I would always see Matt on the same lakes. I would shout out, “ Hi Matt” when I saw him on the banks and I was in my canoe and he would reply back, “ Hi Jill!!” I knew that one day I would correct him.

It was August, the bugs stopped bighting as bad and the leaves started to change. I was on my last guided trip of the season and I was exhausted. It was the last day of the 7 day trip and we were headed out. I had two more portages left before I was headed back to the city. I had put in some lazy paddle strokes until I looked up over my front passenger and saw Matt on the banks of the next portage. Not sure what made me do it, but I told my 12 year old passenger to dig deep and see how fast we could make the canoe move! He obliged and in no time I was standing next to Matt. I explained how we were headed over to Nahma Lake for some lunch and questioned where he was bringing his clients. It was the same place. I told him that my clients were amazingly fast and that we would beat him there. We didn’t. By the time we had all arrived he had his boat upside down with the most amazing spread that even I was jealous. My clients did not fancy the peanut butter sandwiches when they saw black forest ham, fresh fruit and veggies. Matt invited us to enjoy it, so we did. I was also able to tell him that my name was Jo and not Jill. We parted ways, and I gave him my number incase he ever made it to the city.

Two weeks later Matt called me, and said he was in town and that he would love to take me out for dinner. I told him to not fall in love with me as I was about to head down to Australia for 4 years to guide. We dated for a year and then broke up the day before I was scheduled to leave. The day of my departure I was saying good bye to everyone in the departure gate when I heard,“ Jo wait!” Matt and my best friend Tina came running down towards me. Matt hugs me and says, “I can’t let you go without telling you that I love you.” I cried the entire way to Australia. Seven months later he arrived in Australia and we have been together ever since. Matt proposed to me up on the Nahanni River over looking the Virginia Falls on the first day of or 14 day self guided white water trip in 2012. This September we are getting married, and it has been 9 years since we passed each other on that portage trail. We have asked for a canoe in our registry as we have so many more canoeing trips scheduled for many years ahead together.” – Jo

April 23 – Julie Buckles. Winner of 15′ canoe tie-down straps and a Museum Family Membership. Julie actually just wrote an entire book on her canoe honeymoon! Published in September, Paddling to Winter chronicles their journey from Lake Superior to Wollaston Lake in northern Saskatchewan (where they stayed for the winter). Here is a photo of Julie and Charly on their one year anniversary – still on the trail and an excerpt from the book that will be published in Lake Superior Magazine this summer.

The Journey of a Lifetime: Our Yearlong Canoeing Honeymoon – “Three more minutes,” Charly shouted, tossing stacks of papers, files and documents into cardboard boxes. With plans to paddle our canoe 2,700 miles starting from our back door at the Sioux River Beach on Lake Superior in Wisconsin, Charly and I were almost ready to start our honeymoon – The Trip that I’d found unimaginable six years earlier. We intended to paddle 1,700 miles to northern Saskatchewan, stay there for the winter, then snowshoe 200 miles farther north in the spring, and paddle another 1,100 miles to Gjoa Haven on the Northwest Passage of the Arctic Ocean. We would be gone 18 months…

We had prepared for 18 months of crisis: cold weather, smashed canoe, burst appendix. I had packed enough tampons to supply the female population of our county for a year. We had taken first-aid classes and studied wilderness medicine. I had taken swim lessons. We had consulted with doctors about first-aid kits and talked to experts about emergency radios. I knew that, statistically, driving a car to the grocery store would be more likely to cause my demise than paddling a canoe to the far north, but still we prepared for the worst. Two years of planning had narrowed to three insane minutes of details that had more to do with our regular life than with our canoe trip. I laughed because I had lived with Charly for five years and had been married to him for the last eight months. Last-minute projects were his specialty…” – Julie

April 22 – Stephanie Sketchley. Winner of a Soul Catcher Double Hammock and a Museum Family Membership. Here’s her story:

“We married in October 2012 on Galiano Island (off the south of Vancouver Island). It is one of our favourite places to camp and canoe on the coast. On one of our first camping (and canoeing!) trips to the island, we decided that when we did get married, it would be on this beach. And what better way to “walk down the aisle” than in a canoe with the beautiful ocean as our backdrop?

This photo captures the fun, casual feeling of our wedding. My wife and I came to the beach in separate canoes from opposite ends of the beach, and when the boats came together, someone shouted “Ramming speed” and we were paddled at full speed into the beach. The photo was taken just seconds before we landed. (Photo credit: Nigel Brown)” – Stephanie

April 21 – Nicole Archibald. Winner of 2 GSI Outdoors Stemless Wine Glasses and a Museum Family Membership. Here is her story and photos:

“My partner and I met out in Fernie, BC and have been paddling together ever since, from the west to the east. I stern, he fishes…except when I insist he grab a paddle! We have paddled flat water, moving water, with groups of friends, with our son and when ever we can, just the two of us together.

Our wedding in 2012 was canoe themed, from the wedding invitations to the paddle we had guests sign with their well wishes. We paddled away by canoe, with Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” being played on guitar and stand up base in the back ground. Our guest’s dinner tables were labeled with wooden canoe cut outs that listed each body of water we’ve paddled together (upwards of 20 but the list was longer than the number of tables). Photos for our wedding were captured by photographer Wendy MacCrimmon (http://wmacphotography.com).

We both have a long history of canoeing with family and friends since we were children, at cottages and camps, and adventures from the Yukon to Costa Rica. I’d say without hesitation it was definitely our love of the paddle and canoe that drew us together for keeps.” – Nicole

April 20 – Nancy Chapman and Bob Hansen. Winner of a ‘Canoe Mates’ print and a Museum Family Membership. Here’s their special story and photos:

“Nancy and I had a dream. Both of us considered canoe tripping a lifestyle and we wanted to get married at a very special place in Algonquin Park. Unfortunately, it was tough to find someone qualified to do the dirty deed. The major hurdle was finding a cleric willing to spend at least four days away from their Ministry, paddling down a white water river with four complete strangers. We finally got lucky and found our own personal ‘Cupid’, a wedding arranger at London’s City Hall…Rev. Bill, an adventurous Minister from Pembrooke, who was willing to help us get hitched. He enthusiastically agreed to marry us even though he had little paddling experience, none of it in white water.

The other two paddlers that joined us were long time firefighter colleagues and paddling partners from London, Rick and Doug. Rick shouldered the job of being the official photographer but also doubled as Nancy’s ‘maid of honor’. He was new at this ‘maid of honor’ thing and a bit unfamiliar with the position, but Nancy avows that no one could have done better. In my opinion however, he did make one slight miscalculation in his duties that you will read of later. Doug, the trip’s ‘best man’, was also a natural fit as the party’s official raconteur. His specialty was telling enthralling stories, loosely based upon, but not entirely shackled by the facts. Still is. Nancy and I were ecstatic! We would be wed in the fragrant pine air atop a natural monument that has towered for millennium in timeless witness over the Algonquin landscape. With a view that can only be found by hiking up three hundred feet above the Petawawa River, to the top of the cliff at the Natch…

Our first few days were uneventful, until an incident at the first drop at the Natch rapids where the Petawawa falls over two ledges about 10 meters apart. There is an opening in each ledge, but the one through the second ledge is way to the left of the first … Bill was in the bow, enthusiastically growling his ‘haarr’s and paddling furiously. Doug, grinning ear to ear, twirled his paddle over his head like a helicopter. But in the next moment, everything changed as they realized they wouldn’t make the second chute and over they flipped, into the turbulent current. Rev. Bill grabbed the throw rope with an unforgettable expression of relief as he arced slowly through the current, back to shore. He couldn’t believe it- the incredible power of the water. Then we couldn’t believe it when he began bailing the canoe to try it again!

On the day of the wedding…Nancy kidded that the only thing missing at any back woods wedding was a gorgeous bridal bouquet. We dawdled in camp awhile before heading out, waiting for the clearing weather, stretching out the last moments of my fading bachelor-hood. Rick went missing for a while and walked back into camp just as we were getting ready to leave. When we got to the top, Rick called Nancy over and presented her with a wonderful bouquet of wild flowers and fall leaves, all tastefully wrapped in a white birch bark sleeve. He had aced his second last task for Nancy as ‘maid of honor’ and now, had only one more job to complete.

They walked towards us, Nancy proudly clutching her bouquet. When we gathered, Doug gasped and said he hated to interrupt our beautiful wedding ceremony, but those deep red, gorgeous leaves that festooned Nancy’s bouquet were in fact, poison ivy cloaked in fall color. Doug also said they were still very potent. I thought, “There goes one of the prime honeymoon activities I was so looking forward to”! Remember back when I said Rick might have made one ‘maid of honor’ mistake! The ceremony was all we hoped for, standing at the top of The Natch with miles of golden Algonquin forest visible through the swirling mists. Reverend Bill wore a white, long sleeved, turtle-neck T-shirt, accessorized with a long red “sash”. Actually, the sash was Mrs. Bill’s dining room table runner that he grabbed going out the door. During Bill’s remarks, he took in the glorious vista that surrounded us and said he had performed weddings in many beautiful cathedrals built by man, but never in one of such magnificent spiritual grandeur, built by God…

Nancy and I are approaching our 20th anniversary this September and have spent the ensuing decades poking around Algonquin’s woods and waterways…Our voyageur souls return year after year to recharge in that ageless place, Algonquin Park, where both our hearts and relationship remain firmly rooted.” – Bob Hansen

April 19 – Erin Joy Swank. Winner of a copy of the Museum’s most recent publication Can I Canoe You Up the River? The Story of Paddling and Romance and a Museum Family Membership. Here is her story and photos:

“My husband and I are canoe river guides in Colorado. We had a “‘river rat’ wedding” with everyone wearing Hawaiian outfits, then paddled off instead of getting a limo.” – Erin

April 18 – Lucie and Jamie. Winner of 15′ canoe tie-down straps and a Museum Family Membership. Here is their story and photo:

“Jamie proposed to me during a day canoe trip down the river that runs through the small village where I grew up. I’ve been splashing in the river since I was three months old, and while we were taking a break from paddling to enjoy a dip in the cool waters he pulled a ring from his swim trunks and proposed. Our dog was swimming circles around us. It was a perfect moment.

We only have a selfie from the day, but I think it captures the emotion! Growing up, I spent my summer holidays canoe tripping with my family and friends at camp and I always loved it. Cajoled into a canoe early on in our relationship Jamie loved the time on the water. Having survived to earn his paddle on a few exciting trips, canoeing is now a shared passion! We’re planning to take our closest friends on a joint bachelor/bachelorette canoe adventure in Algonquin— we can’t wait!” – Lucie

April 17 – Jenn and Ray McCullough. Winner of 15′ canoe tie-down straps and a Museum Family Membership. Here is their story and photos:

“Canoes have been a big part of my relationship with my husband, Ray. When we met, I knew that to win his heart, I’d have to learn to love Ray and all of his paddling gear. Over the years, this has consisted of 3-6 canoes, at any given time, kayaks, endless amounts of camping gear and at least 20 paddles between the two of us – although this number continues to grow as Ray handcrafts his own paddles now. As a former canoe guide in Atikokan, Ontario, canoeing ran deep in Ray’s history.

After just a month of dating, Ray took me on a canoe trip to make sure I could ‘hack’ it in the wilderness. Passing this relationship test was a deal breaker. As an avid camper myself, I saw this was a romantic trip for twoand was happy to have time with Ray, out on the water. For our first Christmas together, Ray showed his love for me by buying me something more precious to him than jewelry – he bought me a canoe paddle! Over the past 5 years, many of our ‘big’ gifts to one another have been canoe related – paddles, gear etc. As a note, we’ve been to the Canoe Museum twice on ‘dates’ throughout our relationship.

When we moved in together, a stipulation for our house was that we had enough room to store our canoes. As it turned out, what we thought was enough storage at the time, was clearly not enough. As our ‘fleet’ of boats grew, so did our deck (we renovated) to make more outdoor storage underneath. Soon after this, Ray and I decided to get a dog – the essential canoe companion. We decided on a Bernese Mountain Dog whom we named Swift after the canoe company. It was important that we also had to introduce her to canoeing, so when she was only a few months old when she went on her first canoe trip to the Poker Lakes. She’s been on several more since then and is a great canoe dog.

When Ray proposed, his plan was to do so on a canoe trip; however, severe weather changed his plans and he proposed atop Lookout Trail in Algonquin Park. As I planned our wedding, Ray was very relaxed about the choices I made; however, it was very important to him to include canoes in our day. While we toiled with the idea of getting married in a canoe, we opted not to as we had concerns that some of our elderly guests would not be able to get to an appropriate location for this. Instead, we got married on a much bigger boat – the Island Princess in Orillia, and took our wedding photos on Lake Couchiching, in the canoe. Ray accessorised on our wedding day with canoe cufflinks and our favours to our groomsmen were also personalized canoe paddles. Ray also made not one, but two sets of custom paddles for our wedding day. One set to paddle with (and for pictures) and the other set as our guestbook.

Canoeing continues to be important to us as our family vacations consist of primarily of canoe trips. We look forward to sharing our love of canoes when we have kids someday, but for now, our canoe is built for two…and sometimes a big, furry dog!” – Jenn McCullough.

April 16 – Miranda and Steve. Winner of a Nalgene Water Bottle and a Museum Family Membership. Here’s their entry:

April 15 – Claire Webber. Winner of a Museum shirt (colour and size of her choosing) and a Museum Family Membership. Here’s her story:

“My partner Brad and I met 8 years ago at YMCA Camp Wanakita, where we both participated in the intense month-long Student Counsellor training program. We were 15 years old. We made fast friends from our shared love of paddling, but didn’t confess our attraction for each other until many years later. We then taught the SC program at camp, leading numerous canoe trips, and passing on our passion for canoeing to a new generation of paddlers. We have now been dating for nearly 4 years, and our passion for paddling hasn’t faded. We canoe together (and fight over who will get to stern) at every opportunity. Here is a recent photo of us paddling on Lake WahWashKesh in September 2013 at sunset. We hope to paddle together for many more years to come.” ~ Claire

April 14 – Kristy Pulver Waito. Winner of an AeroPress Coffee Maker and a Museum Family Membership. Here is her story and photos:

“Our ‘love story’ is one filled to the brim with canoes! David and I met while working at an outdoor centre/camp for children with Autism. Our regular work day consisted of sharing our love of the outdoors, and paddling, with our campers and co-workers. After three years together, we decided to get married. While our decision was mutual, and I picked out my own ring, David wanted to surprise me with a traditional proposal. And that he did! He had a friend email us and let us know that she had visited while we were out of town one weekend. She had taken her daughter for her first ever canoe ride, and because we couldn’t be there with them they decided to hid a geocache in the woods for us. After punching in the coordinates we learned that it was on an island not far from our house. We made a plan to load up our canoe a few days later and head out for an evening paddle. Little did I know, Dave had hid the cache a few days earlier with a friend! Inside I found a note that simply read “turn around” – I immediately clued in and laughed as I turned around to find him on one knee. He had even brought along a picnic of my favorite foods, but the bugs in the woods were too intense, so we hopped back in our boat and enjoyed our snacks while floating in the middle of the lake and watching the sunset. Perfect. Not to be outdone, I decided to get David an engagement gift of his own (I had a ring, it was only fair!). Because my work is very summer season focused, our time spent paddling our canoe together is somewhat limited. To ensure he could continue to paddle on his own, I bought him a beautiful sea kayak to adventure in.

A few months later we decided to have engagement photos taken and our photographer agreed to drive a few hours to our home so we could take them in some of our favourite places. After doing some tree and rock shots, we headed to the camp where we met (and where I am now the manager). We used our orange canoe as the only prop (the canoe being our first big purchase together as a couple) and these pictures are still amoungst our favourites.

Once the wedding planning began we had two main criteria: the location we select needed allow us to have a campfire…as well as water of some sort so a canoe could make an appearance. While many family and friend tried to change our minds – what if I tipped? What if you rip your dress climbing out? – my Dad and I knew that we hadn’t had a canoe tipping incident in the 25 years we’d been paddling together and this day should be no different. We paddled off and had a few quiet minutes of reflection before heading to the ceremony site. Those 10 minutes alone with him, in the same boat I went on my first ever canoe trip in (a canvas and cedar strip he spent the last few summers restoring) – were some of the best of the day. David got a huge high five after I made my way to shore! 

Another canoe related detail that went into our wedding day was the paddle we used as a guest book. We purchased it from a sustainable forestry near our home and my dad crafted a beautiful paddle for us to use. It now serves as a lovely reminder of that incredible day, the family and friends who celebrated with us, and our mutual passion for the outdoors.” ~ Kristy. All photos are by Jamie Dimitry (www.jamiedimitry.com).

April 13 – Tara Mels. Winner of 15′ canoe tie-down straps and a Museum Family Membership. Here is Tara’s photo and story:

“Canoe Love! Me and my hubby June 2011. We’ve spent many weekends with a canoe and a couple of backpacks. We went canoeing when I was 8.5 months pregnant and have taken our son canoeing since he was just a couple weeks old!” – Tara

April 12 – Bea Keeler. Winner of a copy of the Museum’s most recent publication Can I Canoe You Up the River? The Story of Paddling and Romance and a Museum Family Membership. Here’s her story:

“I’ve been to your museum many times….loved it. This is my canoe love story: 35 years ago I was proposed to in a green fiberglass canoe in a quiet clean lake in northern Vancouver Island. My adventure began there over time in many canoes, many portages, and many magical moments. We eventually headed back to Muskoka, and my husband was given a 1937 cedar strip Peterborough Prospector to restore, and the next leg of our journey began. Such a beautiful canoe. We hugged the shoreline many an evening with our standard poodle Ben perched proudly and gracefully in the bow, after working on our dovetail log cabin. Many dreams were whispered whilst we glided softly across the lake watching the loons and the moon and each other. 

Our daughter was on many a paddle and when she brought a fella home, he asked if he could take the “Dorothy” out for a paddle, and watching them across the lake as he proposed to our daughter, brought such hope and a rekindling of our love playing forward. Sadly Ben passed away and our canoe treks were so empty without him. My daughter wanted a Muskoka wedding, and my husband was eager to paddle his daughter in the finely decorated “Dorothy” to be wed on the dock of our uncle’s vintage cottage. Now, our blessed grandaughter has had her best nap so far in the “Dorothy” tied to the dock. There’s nothing like wood on the water, a canoe requires patience, teamwork or solitude, balance and whimsy, all important aspects in a loving lifetime relationship. We will continue to travel by canoe for a good while yet…” – Bea

April 11 – Lindsay Arppe. Winner of 2 Museum Martini Glasses and a Museum Family Membership. Here is her story and photo:

“This is a picture of the “guest painting” from our wedding in August 2011. Daniel Ray and I encouraged all of our guests to paint a square of this canoe picture that we drew on canvas. We then spent our honeymoon canoeing in Algonquin Park. We canoe together every year on our anniversary. A canoe is the best place to spend quality time with a loved one!” – Lindsay Arppe.

April 10 – David Lee. Winner of a Soul Catcher Double Hammock and a Museum Family Membership.

Check out David’s wonderful canoe story and photos. As David says, “I recently got married in 2012, with an actual canoe wedding ceremony, and even got engaged on a canoe trip. And as you may expect, the honeymoon is canoe-themed as well, which is ‘on-going’, as you’ll soon find out.”

Here’s the story: “…I managed to hold it together for the whole wedding, but when I saw Jay paddling the stunning red cedar canvas canoe around the bend with my beautiful wife-to-be, I had to catch my breath.

It was that brief fleeting moment that made me realize it was all worth it. All the planning, headaches, and effort that went into this canoe wedding – everything. I managed to stay steady on my two feet, willing tears from pouring out of my eyes as I looked out across the lake. My vision may have been a bit blurry, but that beautiful scene will always remain in my mind for as long as I live. It was simply incredible…” See the complete story on David’s blog The Passionate Paddler.

April 9 – Deryck Robertson. Winner of a Museum shirt (colour and size of his choosing) and a Museum Family Membership. Here’s his story:

April 8 – Erin MacLachlan. Winner of 15′ canoe tie-down straps and a Museum Family Membership. Here is her story:

“Tom and I met in May of 2013. We went out on two great dates, and then both got crazy busy with vacations and work. He went to South America for four weeks, and then a few days after he got back I went to Europe for three. We kept in touch but we didn’t see each other until August 2013. It was my birthday, and I was going on a canoe trip with my friend Ashley. Tom knew I was heading out into Algonquin Park, and he had a great idea planned. He sent me a text message a couple days before I was set to go out, asking if it would be okay if he paddled out to my campsite on Stratton Lake, and cook my friend and I dinner. I couldn’t believe that someone would want to paddle out into the backcountry, cook me dinner, and then paddle out again. I called my friend and attempted to explain what he wanted to do. I remember telling her, I know this sounds weird BUT if someone wants to paddle out and cook us dinner, I think we should say yes. So, obviously, I did said yes. A few days later, I was swimming and hanging out at my campsite and he paddled up to our site. He brought cold drinks, fresh lake trout, and veggies from a local farmers market. What a great dinner! We all hung out and talked. As the sun was going down I said goodbye to him on the beach and he paddled away. The next weekend we went canoeing on the Rideau River in Ottawa and bbq’ed supper in my backyard. We’ve been going on all sorts of adventures ever since. We just booked a 7 day trip to Killarney Provincial Park for this summer and cannot wait for the snow to melt! Life is good!” – Erin MacLachlan

April 7 – Debbie Val. Winner of a canvas kayak print “Calm morning” and a Museum Family Membership.

Here is a link to her very sweet proposal video (in a kayak) and a wedding photo (in a canoe).

April 6 – Jean & Dave Hebert. Winner of 2 GSI Outdoors Stemless Wine Glasses and a Museum Family Membership.

Here are a couple of photos from their Thanksgiving wedding at YMCA Wanakita in Haliburton. October 9, 2010…

April 5 – Robin Valleau. Winner of a Nalgene Water Bottle and a Museum Family Membership.

April 4 – Kate Llennef. Winner of a $25 gift card to The Olde Stone Brewing Company/Hot Belly Mamas and a Museum Family Membership. Here is her story and photos…

“Canoeing has always been a big part of our romance story. It was always the hobby we shared together. A chance to get away with just each other. So when Tim finally popped the question, instead of a traditional ring, he gave me a beautiful red 16ft Langford engagement ‘ring.’ Our wedding featured our canoe and our love of camping. From cards being placed in a thunder box to gifts being held in our canoe. Later we went for a canoe trip and enjoyed our first voyage as a married couple.”

April 3 – Kim McLaughlin. Winner of 15′ canoe tie-down straps and a Museum Family Membership. Here is a bit of Kim’s story and photos…

“My husband and I will be married for 3 years on September 17. We have always loved canoeing together so it was fitting that our engagement took place in a canoe on River Canard in Lasalle, Ontario. My husband even tried to get down on one knee in the canoe which you can imagine was not the best idea. Needless to say we decided to take our engagement photos along the same body of water that the proposal took place in and of course we brought our canoe along (The Misty River). At our wedding we took one of the paddles we had and each guest signed it who attended the wedding. It turned out beautifully and we will have it to cherish always. Some great memories!” ~ Kimberly and Michael Fredriksson.

April 2 – Karen Coutts. Winner of a copy of the Museum’s most recent publication Can I Canoe You Up the River? The Story of Paddling and Romance and a Museum Family Membership. Here’s their story…

“In the depths of winter, on a dark and damp evening in Hampshire, two people first met by the ancient walls of a castle. They had been brought together by a shared love, that of the canoe, and the folk of the Song of the Paddle are entirely to blame. On that evening…” Read more of this wonderful tale on Song of the Paddle.

April 1 – Johanna Skoreyko Sprules. Winner of an AeroPress Coffee Maker and a Museum Family Membership. Photo by Jamez Picard of JP Photography.