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  • Paddle to the top of Ontario

    July 29 - Portage through Union

    Toronto's Front Street was so-named because it used to skirt the north shore of Lake Ontario.

    A fitting spot, then, from which to launch this year's Onriver Online Expedition - Winisk to the Bay.

    Six paddlers gathered on the sidewalk betwen Front Street and Union Station this morning, shouldered their canoes amidst the hustle and bustle of business district communter crowds, and began a journey which hopefully will seen them nudge the shores of Hudson Bay just over two weeks from now.

    Union Station witnesses its first recorded portage.

    It was a perfect day. Blue skies broken only by the occasional, doughy cloud, with just enough breeze to keep the bugs away. As omens go, a gang of canoeists can't ask for much better than blue skies and a light breeze.

    The team consists of three Peake brothers, Michael, Geoffrey and David, the Reverend Peter Scott, newspaper editor Peter Brewster, and Tom Stevens, a teacher.

    The launch was smooth. The three Dagger canoes, two 17-footers and a 16-footer (weighing approx. 74 and 65 lbs. respectively) were flawlessly, scufflessly portaged through Union Station's main hall, down two tunnels and into the baggage check. (The first-ever recorded portage through Union.) There followed a quick inventory, tagging of boats and bags, bundling of paddles, and a hearty farewell salute. All in under 15 minutes.

    Next up - 24 hours on VIA Rail's transcontinental express, The Canadian, then four hours on a truck to Pickle Lake and finally a fly-in with Canoe Frontier to the village of Webiquie on Winisk Lake.

    In true Canadian fashion, our six explorers headed off into the wilderness well prepared. They boarded the train with a hefty cooler and lots of reading. They weren't divulging the contents of the cooler but admitted to possessing the writing of authors running the gamut from from Robertson Davies to Tom Clancy.

    If all goes as planned, it'll be Saturday morning before the canoes bite any water, but the team promises to have plenty to report before then. Stay tuned to Onriver Online for daily updates of their progress, complete with pictures and journal entries.

    -- Doug E. Bell, Online Editor, CANOE

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