Wandering Around Out There With A Canoe On My Head

Nancy’s Adventure at the Outdoor Show

Having a comfortable, familiar seat, Nancy was able to sit back and enjoy.

Having a comfortable, familiar seat, Nancy was able to sit back and enjoy.

by Preston
March 1, 2014

Before I say anything else, I’d like to give a big, huge thanks to Swift Canoe & Kayak for setting up our canoe demo, including lending Nancy and I a sweet ride in the pool, as well as a special thanks to Fiona and Mike of Badger Paddles  for setting it all up.

And see below for details on our #OASToronto photo contest! 

The Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show is a favourite event for Ontario paddlers and campers, and I am by no means an exception to that. I always have a great time meeting new friends with similar interests and catching up with old friends with whom I’d otherwise not meet in person. It’s also a great way to check out the latest gear and services offered for getting out into the wild and see inspiring and informative presentations.

[on3_gallery ids=”2750,2751,2752,2753,2754,2755″ cssclass=”theshow”]


A Special Year

But this year was a little different – special, really. This year I was given a chance to present not only on the new “Adventures In Paddling Stage”, but – get this – Nancy and I were invited to give a pool demo on canoeing with your dog. This would be the first time Nancy would be doing anything like this, and I wanted to ensure it was going to be a very positive experience for her. In a way, this experience was kind of like the first time she went canoeing with me, and went together well with what we’d be talking about. So I followed my own advice on getting her to like canoeing as I did for getting her to the demo. Namely, I would introduce the activity without making it a big deal, reward her often for participating, keep it short and end on a positive note. To ensure this, but still make myself available to the rest of the event, I organized an entourage of sorts for Nancy. She got chauffeured to the event a short time before she was going on and got to leave shortly afterwards. She had a handler (let’s call it her “assistant”), a driver and even a personal photographer. (So yeah, a big thanks to you guys for helping out. It kept Nancy happy and me free to do the presenting and not having to worry about my paddling partner’s comfort.) But of course before she left, she had a few people she just had to meet.

[on3_gallery ids=”2719,2757,2758,2759,2760,2761,2762,2763,2764,2714,2715,2716,2717,2718,2756,2727,2731,2740″ cssclass=”nancysdemo”]


So Much To Do

Of course just because Nancy’s adventure was over, didn’t mean mine was. I had a bunch of speakers and demos to check out myself, not to mention my own presentation on “Paddling the White Peaks of Killarney”.I have to admit that everything was a bit frantic for me, but I managed to figure out how to move through the crowd pretty good and get to see as much as I could. Some of the highlights included Hap Wilson speaking on his favourite canoe routes, Becky Mason on her trip to Woodland Caribou with Ray Mears, each teaching their expertise to a group of extremely lucky paddlers, and David Bain, who gave a great argument on the benefits and importance of getting back to paddling basics without the use of technology. One presentation I sadly missed was Kevin Callan, on his trip “Once Around Algonquin”. I’ve seen a few previews and I’d love to get a copy of the DVD. Looks awesome! Unfortunately, he was on at the same time Nancy and I were canoeing in the pool.

As far as my own presentation goes though, I am so glad I had a chance to do that. It was fun, but the best part for me was that afterwards I got a to visit with some people who I hadn’t met before, but had such nice things to say. It’s truly touching to know that you had even just a little bit of influence in helping people get outdoors and have some great experiences. I sincerely thank you guys for letting me know that I could do that for you. I was shocked – shocked! – to know how many people have been following our exploits. All the love was a bit overwhelming, but especially humbling. It’s sometimes tough to know how much you’re being paid attention, and I can tell you that my existing enthusiasm for what I do has been super-charged. (Now if only all this snow will hurry up and melt!)

[on3_gallery ids=”2720,2721,2722,2723,2724,2728,2729,2732,2733,2737,2738,2739″ cssclass=”thingstodo”]


The Pool

As a wannabe photographer, one of my favourite parts of the event are the water demos. I’m not much of a kayaker, but I like to get to the rolling demos. James and Heather of the Ontario Sea Kayak Centre didn’t disappoint. Later, we all got a fantastic opportunity to see Becky Mason show us all how it’s done. Her paddling skill creates an almost poetry to her seemingly (but obviously not) effortless motion through the water. It’s something to see. My niece, who was helping me with Nancy, was pretty thrilled to see her. But when I asked if she’d like to meet her, she shyly said “No”. I knew she’d probably regret that later, and I should have just taken her over there, but to be honest I was a bit star-struck myself. My least favourite moment? Yeah, that was when Wilderness Tours gave a chance to kids a simulation of going on a white-water rafting trip on the Ottawa River. That part was good – it looked like a lot of fun, and their guide spun the raft in circles and maintained the illusion of riding the waves for everyone. What I didn’t like was one of the kids thinking it would be funny to take his paddle and target a few in the audience with a nice cold splash of water. I can still see the cold, evil little grin he gave me just before I turned my head and covered my camera. (I should mention though, that the rafting guide got that quickly under control by re-directing the child’s involvement in the boat. Thanks for that.)

[on3_gallery ids=”2734,2735,2736,2743,2744,2745,2746,2747,2748″ cssclass=”thepool”]


The Booths

But you really haven’t seen everything until you walk around to some of the exhibits and booths. I had nice long chats with so many people just wandering around one booth to the next. So glad I could get to speak with Lyn from Parks Canada (sad I missed her presentation as well), Boris and Alex from Parkbus, Andy from Treks In The Wild and also Jeff from Jeff’s Map who was hanging out with Marissa at the Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co booth. (How’s that for succinct shout-outs!)

[on3_gallery ids=”2725,2726,2730,2741,2742,2749″ cssclass=”booths”]


It was a great event, and I feel so lucky to have been able to present this year. Thanks so much to all of you with whom I spoke at the event, those of you who showed up to my presentations, and of course thanks to the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show staff for letting me speak and helping the show run so smoothly!

Photo Contest Postcript

As promised, we were having a little photo contest for anyone who took pictures of Nancy at the event. If you have any, please send them to me (by email or just post them to Facebook). I’m going to choose and post the best 10, each to receive a Portageur.ca decal. The picture with the most likes will receive an additional prize of a t-shirt, BADGER® Paddle sock and a set of Keyak keychains provided by Kingdom Outdoor Products.

This may be a thinly disguised excuse for me to get more photos of Nancy. I really want to see them, so send me those photos!!!

  • Get the latest updates
    Preston and Nancy the dog pose with a Paddle in the Park Contest paddle
    Keep up to date
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.