Wandering Around Out There With A Canoe On My Head

2011 Outdoor Adventure Show

by Preston
March 5, 2011

Last weekend I got a chance to go to the Ontario Outdoor Adventure show, and like every year it was a lot of fun – and very popular. It’s a great chance to see the outdoor community and check out what’s going on this year, new products and see some demos. For me personally,  I like to meet people in the canoeing and camping industry, and this year was particularly interesting because it gave me a chance to meet some of the people I follow on Twitter, putting faces to user names – even if I didn’t always get a chance to speak with them directly.

The major attraction of the show has got to be the film screenings and presentations by famous outdoorsy people. This year’s “Special Guest Appearance” was none other than Survivorman himself, Les Stroud. He’s got a new book out (“Will to Live: Dispatches from the Edge of Survival“)and apparently is going out on tour with his band.

The highlight of the presentations was – of course – Kevin Callan. He was promoting his soon-to-be released book “Top 50 Canoe Routes of Ontario” due out at the end of March. He said it’s kind of like a “Best Of” album, with a few new routes as well (previously unreleased tracks?). He’s also featured in the Classic Canadian Adventure Contest, where the winner will go on a 7-day series of adventures along side Kevin. This provided him the opportunity to plead with the audience to sign up. He suggested it would be quite a fun time with someone with similar interests – a paddler or hiker for example – but could be a nightmare if someone else wins, and so enthusiastically encouraged those in attendance to make sure they signed up. Kevin then went on to show pictures and tell stories of his trips, all to our great amusement.

Now the best part of Kevin’s presentation came from next door. Turns out they had scheduled Kevin at 1:30, but at 1:15 in the next room was Les Stroud. Kevin’s introduction mentioned this, and once Kevin came out we all made sure to hoot and holler loud enough to remind the other audience they were in the wrong room. That was fun, and Kevin seemed very humbled by the gesture.

“Kevin vs Les stroud…having my audience cheer me on louder and louder every time Les stroud got a cheer while presenting in the next presentation room was the highlight of my day – actually the highlight of my year. Thanks”

Status update from Kevin Callan’s Facebook page

That being said, here are some things I liked about the show, followed by some gentle critiques.

What I liked

  • Everyone I met and spoke with. There are some really great people who love the outdoors and have some great stories.
  • I really enjoyed the paddling demos, particularly on Stand Up paddling by Swift Canoes. I’ve seen videos but never up close. It looks like a really fun way to paddle about and get some exercise. (Check out this icy version of the sport)
  • Seeing a Pack Canoe up close and in action was certainly interesting. If I get a chance, next trip I’m paddling solo, trying to keep up with a group, I will definitely try it out using a kayak paddle as demonstrated.
  • Ontario Parks really does a great job. From putting on entertaining shows, offering on-the-spot trip planning, education material, and even a place for Kevin Callan to hang out when not on stage, they’re kind of the anchor at these exhibitions.
  • I also got a chance to check out a new Delorme Earthmate PN-60w – a GPS with SPOT combo. Basically it gives you the benefit of a satellite locator and emergency communicator with a link to a hand-held GPS, but by using both, you can send texts and e-mail via satellite (even update Facebook, Twitter and Geocaching.com). The functionality sounds great, but I’m not sure it’s a better GPS than the Garmin I have now. One definite advantage is that – as the Delorme guy I spoke with emphasized – their devices come with everything you need to get started, with no extra fees for maps, for example . That’s a practice I’d like to support.

Not So Much

  • All kidding aside, I would have liked to at least have had the option of seeing both Les Stroud and Kevin Callan. It was a weird scheduling conflict. I think anyone interested in seeing either one of them would probably feel the same.
  • I’d like to see more exhibitors, specifically ones with an outdoor theme. It always seems like there’s a couple of companies there just to fill the place up. (If you went, you know what I mean.) I go to these things mainly to see gear and supplies for paddling, camping and canoeing. What I expect to see is things you either would like to see up close, don’t normally have access to or even just stuff you don’t see everywhere. Ostrom Outdoors is a great example of the latter.
  • Speaking of which, I don’t really want to deter people from buying barrels and harnesses (and would recommend they stop by Ostrom’s first for that), but I think a very courteous thing to do after you buy one, would be to go take it to the car. There are an awful lot of new barrel owners to dodge in such a large crowd. Think Three Stooges and a two-by-four and you get my point.

I’ll be posting more soon on some of the people, places and things I was able to discover at the event. Hope to see everyone at the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show in March.


Kevin Callan Postcript

I am a big canoe nerd, which has altered my perception of celebrity. As regular readers know, I’ve included in this year’s New Year’s resolution to get a picture of me and Kevin Callan, and this was the perfect venue for that. In fact, after his presentation I saw a bunch of people do so. His canoe was on display with some outdoor gear, making for the perfect back-drop. He must have taken 10 pictures with pretty much whoever asked. I was sitting in my seat waiting for the next presentation (on Parkbus – more on that in a different post). Didn’t even think to ask myself. Oh well, maybe next time.


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Preston and Nancy the dog pose with a Paddle in the Park Contest paddle
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