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Voyageur canoe brigade was a splashing success!
Events | June 2017

Fifteen voyageur canoes enter the Athabasca River from Brule Lake, west of Hinton.




15 Canoes, 170 People, 333 Kilometers.

The Athabasca Watershed Council was proud to support and participate in the Athabasca River Voyageur Canoe Brigade. The brigade launched on June 22 on the Maligne River, near Jasper, and finished on June 28 in Fort Assiniboine. In total, fifteen teams loaded their voyageur canoes with 170 happy paddlers to make the 333 km journey down the Athabasca River.

Each canoe proudly flew the flag of one of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories. One lucky boat got to fly Canada’s flag and the other flew a flag donning the brigade’s logo.

Celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday.

The brigade was more than just a canoe trip. It was a celebration of history and diversity. The brigade reminded participants of our nation’s complex history through performances and ceremonies that highlighted French, Scottish, and Indigenous cultures, to name a few. It also highlighted the historical significance of the fur trade and the ecological significance of the Athabasca River Watershed.

Black powder rifles were used in the ceremony to welcome the brigade ashore in Whitecourt.

A Royal Welcome.

Over a thousand people lined the banks of the Athabasca River in Fort Assiniboine to witness the brigade’s conclusion. One of those people was the Honorable Lois Mitchell, Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor (the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Alberta). The brigade concluded with an elaborate and historically-accurate ceremony during which the brigade sought permission to come ashore.

Over a thousand people packed into a hall in Fort Assiniboine to see Lois Mitchell (the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta) address the brigade.

Highlighting the Importance of Watershed Planning.

We took every opportunity to connect with people along the way and talk about watershed planning. During public events in Hinton (on the Beaver Boardwalk on June 25) and in Whitecourt (in Rotary Park on June 27), we set up our display and spoke with brigaders and members of those communities. By the end of the trip, we added almost 60 passionate members to our growing organization!

The trip provided us with an excellent opportunity to see the river (and all the activities that surround it) from new perspectives.

Thanks where thanks are due.

Events like these don’t happen by themselves. We’d like to thank the Athabasca River Voyageur Canoe Brigade Society (namely, Bernie Kreiner, Rick Zroback, and Doug Yalte) for their tireless work in organizing and executing this amazing trip. We’d also like to thank Diane Watson for organizing the public event at the Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton and Dan Moore for organizing the public event at Rotary Park in Whitecourt. Dan is one of our board members, and his hard work and passion for this event were instrumental in our success. Thanks also to Brian Deheer, Robert Holmberg, Janice Linehan, and Tim Polzin (four more board members) for their participation and assistance at the public events. We’d also like to thank Whitecourt Woodlands Tourism (a partnership between the Town of Whitecourt and Woodlands County) for their generous financial contribution to the public event in Whitecourt. Finally, we’d like to thank our primary funder and partner, the Government of Alberta’s Department of Environment and Parks.