I was 18 when I organized my first canoe trip: three high school buddies and I made our way down the Madawaska River from Palmer Rapids to Griffith, without the foggiest idea what we were doing. A couple guys had never camped before, none of us had ever paddled whitewater, and my pal Tuan couldn’t even swim! (I remember he got pretty nervous when, on the morning we left, he found Bill Mason’s Path of the Paddle spread open on my dining room table to the “how to paddle rapids” section.
It probably goes without saying that we made it through the adventure alive and (mostly) unscathed. In fact, we trekked down the Petawawa and Dumoine Rivers over the next couple of years, all with three pages from Path of the Paddle to go on.
How’d it go?
Well, let’s just say that after Bryce and I almost went over The Chute on the Petawawa, and after Jonathan had to hitch a ride back to our car at the Dumoine Rod and Gun Club because we were out of food and matches and only halfway done the river, and after we had proven the adage that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing… we decided to hit up the Madawaska Kanu Centre.
My dad has raved about MKC since I was a kid. My mother gave him a kayak for Christmas ‘72 (so the story goes) and he immediately took to the whitewater. It was around that time – when MKC was just a few years old – that he first went up. And here I was, 20-some years later, making the same trip!
The five days that my friends and I spent learning and paddling on MKC’s perfect stretch of man-made rapids have laid the foundation for yet another lifetime of padding. 15 years later, as I push my hobby on my friends and stepdaughter like a whitewater dealer, I still find myself repeating some of the same lessons I learned that week… mostly, “for god’s sake, paddle!”.
So, a big Thank You to MKC and the Kerckhoff and Van Wijk families for providing such a wonderful experience and resource for four full decades! Congratulations!
Tom Spears from the Ottawa Citizen had a great write-up on MKC and its proprietors in the weekend edition. Give it a read for more info on this Ottawa Valley paddling institution!