Voyageur canoe paddles all the way to Washington: 40 days on the water ways

On Wednesday October 17, a voyageur canoe led by Westboro Beach’s Max Finkelstein was set to arrive in Washington D.C., after 40 days of paddling the rivers, canals, bays and water ways that connect this Capitol to our Capital.

We caught up with Finkelstein while he was in the boat en route to Washington and asked him about the highlights of the trip. “Successfully crossing all five miles of Chesapeake Bay in howling wind was exciting,” reported Finkelstein. “And paddling past the Statue of Liberty in New York was incredible.”

Along the way, Finkelstein’s crew, dropped off members who had to return to work and family responsibilities and picked up new crew members who intentionally and spontaneously joined the trip. Most notable among the additional crew mates were young sailors aboard tall ships docked at a Tall Ships festival in Philadelphia during the weekend of October 6-7. “We were welcomed to the festival, we slept on the deck of a beautiful old ship and got to know the crews of those boats,” says Finkelstein.

Having the opportunity to connect with marinas, maritime museums, water conservation authorities and communities along the route was one of the key reasons Finkelstein embarked on the journey.

For Ottawa artist Dot Bonnenfant, who paddled with the canoe for the first few weeks, the most memorable experience after the comradarie of the crew was the diversity of water ways they travelled through.

“We paddled along quasi-wilderness with bullrushes, trees, rocks and herons. And then we could compare that to agricultural lands and cities. There was such a variety of river edges from naturalized to garbage dumps. And when we reached the harbours, we paddled beside huge ocean-going vessels. All these water ways are connected,” says Bonnenfant.

On October 18, the paddlers will join in a 40th anniversary celebration of the Clean Water Act in Washington where they’ll give a short presentation on their trip. Attending this international event is a fitting conclusion to their journey to “protect and restore the waters we all share.”

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