Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

7,000 km across Canada by canoe

Couple, son and dog pull into 'Peg on trek

  • Print

It's a cross-Canada journey that has seen the MacDonalds paddle down hundreds of rivers, cross countless portages, welcome a baby (and another's on the way) and pick many a tick off their Alaskan malamute Taq.

The MacDonalds, who have been canoeing across Canada since 2007, finally made it to Winnipeg at The Forks on Sunday, after what they said was the most difficult leg of their journey.

"It's been the most difficult," admits Geoff MacDonald, 37, a geologist from Calgary, citing the wicked winds on Lake Winnipeg and the swollen Assiniboine River.

The couple had to turn back to Winnipeg from Lake Winnipeg because of the brutal conditions.

Geoff and his wife, Pamela MacDonald, 36, began their canoeing challenge in 2007 in Victoria.

"I wanted to go on an adventure and explore Canada," said Pamela, a business analyst. "Geoff had canoeing experience and said that was the best way to explore Canada."

They quit their jobs, she said, canoed in the summer and worked on contract in the winter so they could continue their adventure once the ice thawed. Now Geoff has a permanent job, but one where he can take the summers off to cross Canada with their 21/2-year-old son Jude.

"When he was a baby, we paddled around his naps," Geoff laughs.

Now, it's about keeping his toy chest in the canoe. On Sunday, Jude reached for a blue truck before he was ready to get in their red canoe on the Assiniboine.

Having a baby along for the ride, and another very soon as Pamela is more than five months pregnant, has changed how they travel.

This summer they said they started their journey in Saskatchewan in May, finishing, they hope, on Aug. 1 in Kenora, Ont. They attempted to canoe through Lake Winnipeg, but whipping winds were too intense to handle, so they turned back, paddling along the Assiniboine to Winnipeg.

"It's been fast and friendly," said Geoff about the Assiniboine.

Flooding has been a challenge, said Pamela, portaging around a bridge, for instance, because the river was so high.

They've met a lot of people along the way, stopping off to knock on doors to refill their water jugs and sometimes, she says, just look for company.

"Today we stopped at a farmer's house and they invited us in for iced tea," she said.

But their greatest adventure, Geoff and Pamela agree, was crossing the Continental Divide in 2008, a 100-kilometre portage through three mountain passes.

"We busted open a bottle of champagne at the last pass and saw the water running down the hill for us the rest of the way," Pamela said.

Their paddling adventure is far over.

"It's not always easy. Some days there's bugs and it's cold," said Geoff. "But we love being outside and we love the adventure."

"At the beginning," Geoff said, "we never thought we'd work this trip into our lives so much."

 

jennifer.ford@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 23, 2012 0

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jets defencemen ready to face adversity

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012
  • Someone or thing is taking advantage of the inactivity at Kapyong Barracks,hundreds of Canada Geese-See Joe Bryksa’s goose a day for 30 days challenge- Day 15- May 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Now that former cabinet minister Theresa Oswald has entered the NDP leadership race, do you believe the "gang of five" rebel ministers were right to publicly criticize Premier Greg Selinger's leadership?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google