Friday, August 12, 2011

Artist-In-Residence at Quetico

I'm posting from a motel near Thunder Bay, as I'm about to embark on a 2 week canoe trip in Quetico Provincial Park tomorrow. I've heard and read many good things about this paddling mecca, which is unique in some ways from other paddling parks in Ontario. For one, unlike Algonquin PP which still allows logging, Quetico has banned logging practice altogether, so within its boundary, what you see is what you get; no facade of unending wilderness. Another practice that is different in Quetico which I think is great, is the omission of signs for campsites and portages that heightens the wilderness experience for paddlers. You can tent anywhere, as long as you practice low impact camping. Not forgetting also that you don't have to book sites at any particular lake, your route is now determined totally by your ability, experience or purpose - no need to follow a pre-determined route. A park with qualities like this, how couldn't I get excited?

Early this year, when I started to plot out my canoe season, I finally decided to take a trip out to Quetico Provincial Park. (As I've never been.) When I attended Canoecopia this year to present, I took the opportunity to visit the Ontario Parks booth to meet the superintendent of Quetico PP, Robin Reilly. We had a nice long chat about the park and its history, which only captivated my curiosity to paddle there even more. As a bonus, in the course of our discussion due to my association with Nova Craft Canoes, Robin even invited me to use their special commemorative centennial edition Cronje they got from Nova Craft, which was in display at their park office. Wow, what an honour and offer! Not only that, he suggested I take part in their Artist-In-Residence program, in which an artist gets to paddle in the park for free, in return by showcasing their artwork and helping to promote the park. Come on, how could I refuse!?

In any case, sometime early tomorrow, I will be portaging the brand new, never-before-paddled commemorative Cronje down to the shores of French Lake, and start a 14 day trip through Quetico Provincial Park. I am really looking forward to this trip, and hope that the route selected allows me to experience the essence of Quetico and capture some of it through my lens. I hope to share my experience in the following year through presentations, my blog and a return visit to Quetico. Be in touch in a couple weeks! Hope you have all got out paddling!