Much like the Coureurs des Bois of old, Chris Bartlett carries his canoe on his shoulders. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
The silhouettes of racers dote the water as they leave Petawawa Point on Aug. 11 for the 13 km race. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
The silhouettes of racers dot the water as they leave Petawawa Point on Aug. 11 for the 13 km race. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Robert Ross traveled from Kingston to take part in the festival. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Reel, Kayaks and Real Heroes taught veterans the benefits of kayak fishing early morning of Aug. 10. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Alayna Miller kneels on her paddleboard as she prepares to race. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Integrated Health Centre taught the racers a few stretches to keep them limber. ((Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Paddle Festival draws hundreds to Petawawa, raises $6,600 for CHEO
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2018
The Upper Ottawa Valley River Race and Paddle Festival continues to attract hundreds of people from far and wide, celebrating the majesty of local waterways.
The three-day festival included multiple races, a fishing derby, kayak fishing for veterans, a fundraising paddle for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), a heritage paddle, demonstrations, workshops, live music and much more, all held from Aug. 10 to 12 in Petawawa and Pembroke.
“We just look forward to everybody coming out,” said Kelly Williams, Town of Petawawa’s Manager of Parks and Recreation.
The festival is now in its fourth year and has grown substantially since it was first started. New events are continuously added to keep the festival fresh and exciting, and its reputation has grown so much that people from all over Canada and parts of the United States travel to attend.
The original concept for the festival involved partnering with the City of Pembroke to help manage the resources that Petawawa is known for: its rivers. It created a tourism and economic draw to the area, allowing the area’s outdoor bounty to be showcased.
“We are happy with how things progressed,” said Williams. “About 50 per cent of our participants are local while the other 50 per cent come from all over.”
More than $6,600 was raised for CHEO during the festival. “It is a huge success for a town this size,” said Colin Coyle, Program Coordinator for Petawawa.
The fundraising paddle for CHEO was slightly altered this year. No longer did it bear the mantle of Stand Up for CHEO, which shut down after meeting its original goal and raising $100,000 for the hospital. The fundraising spirit, however, remained. It morphed into the Petawawa Paddle For CHEO, which still raises donations for CHEO, but was open to Stand-up paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks. A celebrity paddle with council members and representatives from the major sponsors helped add to the donation tally. “I like to see our various councillors get into the water,” said Williams. “Local businesses put in their own teams and though it is not a long race, it is a lot of fun.”
Despite some friendly rivalry between municipalities while on the water, Pembroke and Petawawa coming together has allowed the festival to thrive.
“We are neighbouring communities,” said Heather Salovaara, Economic Development Officer for Pembroke. “We share the river. We have the common goal of celebrating the river as well as providing a service to the residents and attracting visitors.”
Though the primary intent of the festival is to get people out on the river and having fun, the races did get competitive.
The end results can be found at upperottawariverrace.ca/race-results.