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Community Paddle
Events | September 2021

Ashley Johnson, Science and Education Coordinator

The Alice B. Donahue Library, located in the town of Athabasca, is holding a “One Book, One Community” event. The event is encouraging community members to read the same book, and meet over a series of related activities. To learn more about the event, and the book we’ve been reading in Athabasca, check out One Book, One Community. One of the events on the docket was a community paddle, from just upstream of 6 Mile Island to the Town of Athabasca boat launch.

Sarah MacDonald, our Watershed Coordinator, Paula Evans, one of our Board Members, and I participated in the event. I was a bit of a last minute addition, and so I’m very thankful that Paula was able to sneak me into a canoe. I’ve lived in Athabasca for most of my life, and it was my first time getting to be out on the Athabasca River. Sarah would also like to thank Paula for loaning her a kayak.

We met up at the Riverfront, and drove to our launch site together.

Once we got there, it was time to get the boats unloaded and haul them down to the water. Then we were off!

It seemed as though in no time at all we stopped at what’s known as 6 Mile Island (although I can’t promise it has that name on google maps) for our lunch break.

While we were at our lunch spot, we had a bit of a discussion led by Cecile, who was one of the One Book, One Community event organizers. She gave a brief overview of the book “Watershed” by Doreen Vanderstoop. The book is set in 2058, and Willa Van Bruggen is struggling to keep her family farm operating during a massive drought. In the book, the glaciers are gone and the rivers in Southern Alberta (where Willa’s farm is located) have all but dried up.

A picture of me with the book, taken by Cecile.

Our discussion mainly focused on the current state of the Athabasca Watershed. We also touched on how the loss of glaciers would impact the Athabasca River in the future (luckily, this river has some groundwater-fed tributaries, so it probably wouldn’t turn bone-dry). From there, Bruce Jackson with Keepers of the Water discussed groundwater and environmental effects monitoring.

After lunch and a great discussion, we put our paddles back into the river to keep on towards Athabasca.

We took some time during this section of the paddle to soak in the views.

We really enjoyed being out on the main-stem of the Athabasca, and it felt all too soon that we were at the town again.

In partnership with One Book, One Community, the AWC will be hosting an online scavenger hunt that will be available from September 22nd to October 15th.