Wandering Around Out There With A Canoe On My Head

2014 Gift Giving Guide

by Preston
December 12, 2014

With 12 more shopping days left until Christmas, there’s still some time to get something special for that special camping canoeist in your life. If you’re looking for some helpful ideas on coming up with a great gift, I wrote a post a couple of years ago to help you figure out a great gift. (I’ve often wondered if that helped anyone. If it helped you, I’d love to know.)

This year though, I’ll make it even easier with some examples. I’ve focused on things that won’t break the bank, specific to the outdoors,  and that you can buy online. In other words, something that will let you spend some more time outdoors by avoiding a mall. Bonus, most of these items support local shops and businesses, something we can all appreciate. So really, everything you want in a gift buying list. You’re welcome.


#1 The Gift of Choice – and a sweet paddle

Great stuff over at the Badger Paddle Shop
Great stuff over at the Badger Paddle Shop

The good folks over at Badger Paddles are once again offering their Badger Gift Card. I love this idea because it’s the perfect way for you to give the perfect paddle, exactly the way they want it – because they’re the ones choosing the paddle. I can’t tell you how many people come up to me for help choosing a paddle for their special someone. Once we get talking about it, they quickly realize how complicated it can get. Size, shape, style, wood type? And the more we talk, while I’m really trying to be helpful, it seems like I talk them out of it, now worried they might buy the wrong paddle. Another problem is if you want to customize a paddle in time for Christmas, you quickly run out of time because they’re hand-crafted.

So this gift card fixes both of these problems. When you buy one, you’ll receive a gift card to put under the tree, then they can contact the Badgers to have their paddle made just the way they want it. If they want to upgrade or change their options, they’re completely free to do so. And they’ll get it before the ice melts in spring! You can purchase them online, but if you want to allow for more customization or more options, just contact them directly. Take it from me, they’re super friendly and very accommodating. Oh, and once again they’re offering free hand-painted customization for Christmas.


#2 The Gift for the Outdoor Art Lover

In The Footsteps of the Group of Seven
In The Footsteps of the Group of Seven

Many of you know about the Waddingtons. They have spent the last 40 years searching for the real painting sites of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. They finally came out with a book last year, and I was pretty happy about it. Their work is amazing and I’m so glad everyone can see it for themselves. It’s very inspirational. Maybe after reading their book you’ll want to go find some of these sites for yourself.

Now you can order and get it quickly online at Indigo, or for a signed copy try the online shop at the Art Gallery of Sudbury. If you really need it right away and you live in the Hamilton area, you can contact Jim and Sue directly and they’ll help you out. To do that, check out their Facebook page. Or just check out the inspiring pictures of their work.


#3 The Gift for the Giver

Project Canoe
Project Canoe

Why not give the gift of change, especially to a youth who needs it the most?  There are a lot of great charities out there that promote canoeing, and one such organization is Project Canoe – “using the outdoors, including wilderness canoeing, to create a transformative environment in which youth develop life skills, social competencies and resiliency, thereby fostering their own personal success.”

This is a great option for the canoeist with everything (or just difficult to shop for), you can make a donation on behalf of that special someone.

(Thanks to Algonquin Basecamp and Sarah D for bringing this to my attention.)


#4 The Gift for the Adventurer

Jeff's Maps
Jeff’s Maps

The best Ontario portaging maps out there have to be those created by Jeff over at Jeff’s Maps. Why? Because of the amazing details, the ability to reference and plan your trip online (for free), and the compact waterproof versions you can order to carry with you on your trip. Also, Jeff is constantly revising his maps with new details and planning tools. They cover all the major (popular) canoe camping areas: Algonquin, Killarney and new this year is his Temagami map.


#5 The Gift for the Environmentalist Adventurer

Friends of Temagami Adventure Planning maps
Friends of Temagami Adventure Planning maps

And speaking of maps – what camping lover doesn’t love maps – the Friends of Temagami has some great ones. The planning map has incredible detail and looks beautiful on a wall (I know this first hand). This year they have added the Obabika Loop and Maple Mountain Trip Companion Map. It’s waterproof and tear-resistant and will take you to some of Temagami’s great canoeing destinations. The added bonus of buying anything from the Friends of Temagami is that you’re supporting the conservation of one of Ontario’s great wild places. So really, it’s two gifts.


#6 The Gift for the Art Loving, Environmentalist

pARTners For Wolf Lake
pARTners For Wolf Lake

And speaking of Temagami, another way to help conserve the most at-risk part of the area – Wolf Lake – the pARTners For Wolf Lake got together to make some art to raise awareness. For a very unique gift this Christmas, think about buying the “Spirit of the Red Pine”, a collection of works inspired by and created to help save Wolf Lake. Full disclosure: A couple of my photographs are featured in this book. Full truth: My pictures are not even my favourite images in the book. There’s some amazing work that was created.

And if you’re really into art, there are still pieces available for purchase, with proceeds going directly to save Wolf Lake – including my two prints. In fact, if you buy either one of my prints, let me know and I can throw in a Portageur Decal and Tshirt for extra incentive. (And if you’re in the Hamilton area, I can make sure to deliver them in time for Christmas.)


#7 The Gift of Summer in the Winter


KW Canoe Symposium
KW Canoe Symposium


A great gift for someone just trying to wait out the frozen season before the paddling can begin is tickets to the Kitchener Waterloo Canoe Symposium. There are always great speakers, and it’s a great chance to meet up with other canoeing enthusiasts. Check out Trail Swag’s report from 2013. I spoke at last year’s event and had a great time, and this year’s list of presenters looks just as interesting as always. In fact, if the pARTners For Wolf Lake art seemed intriguing to you, contributor and well renowned landscape artist E. Robert Ross will be presenting this year.

WARNING: There seems to be a weird pattern of the symposium happening on an unseasonably warm day – like a day when you can finally get the canoe in the water. That can’t possibly keep continuing though.


#8 The Gift of Summer in the Winter – Self Serving Edition

Great times at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show
Great times at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show

Another great event coming up over the winter is the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show. What better gift can there be than to spend a day hanging out with your special someone at a great event dedicated to being outdoors. If you’re reading this on December 12th or 13th, they even have a two day sale on tickets when ordered online. It’s always a great show, with some great exhibitors and guest presenters, and starting last year they have a dedicated space for the canoeist in the Paddler’s Paradise.

Combined with a promise to spend some time together this does make a great – and pretty cheap – gift idea. But I might be including this one for a little bit of a self-serving motive: I’ll be there. I may even be speaking again this year. The more friendly faces show up the better.

Full Disclosure: I cannot guarantee Nancy will be there this year. Better Full Disclosure: Nancy will probably not be there this year. Sorry for the misleading image.


#9 The Gift for the Parks Lover

Ontario Parks passes and certificates
Ontario Parks passes and certificates

If you know someone who spends a lot of time outdoors, why not help them get out there this winter in Ontario Parks with a Winter Day Use Pass? I personally love receiving this gift. Valid from December 1st to March 31st, you’d be giving that special outdoor person a pass to get into any Ontario Park. Actually, you know who really loves this gift? Nancy. With a free pass, there’s no reason not to get out there running around in the snow. (The leash-free area at Bronte Creek is her local favourite.) Another cheaper but just as nice option is to buy some gift certificates (pictured above).


#10 The Last Minute Gift, For the Gag-Gift Loving Outdoor Person

Yep. Toilet Paper.

Toilet paper. Yes. You can get it online, but it’s probably easier to just grab some somewhere. It’s practical, you know it’s going to be used, it sure helps improve your special someone’s outdoor experience, and it’s easy to wrap. Just tie a bow on the side and you’re good to go. Just take off the price sticker to make sure it doesn’t look like you picked it up on the way to your friend’s house. Pair it with some wipes and biodegradable soap, put it all inside a very large zip-lock bag and they’re ready to go on their next adventure. (See what I did there? Yeah, I know.) Your special someone might find it very funny, and we’ll keep your last-minute-shopping our little secret.

Oh, but if that “special someone” is particularly special to you, maybe don’t risk it and go with numbers 1 through 9.


Good luck, and Merry Christmas!


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