The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SUMMER 2004











In this issue

Front Page



Labrador Tragedy

Summer Packet


From the Editor


Back page





Crown of a Continent dethroned

By Micheal Peake



Desperate events caused the last minute cancellation of the Crown of a Continent trip. It was all ready to go and will probably be continued at a future date. Even though there was no trip, we are going to tell you a bit more about the trip that wasn’t and some info about fundraising which always fascinates many paddlers – and frustrates others.

The Hide-Away Canoe Club has always been fortunate in getting a solid level of sponsorship for our trips. Each journey brings its own success and failures despite our generally good track record of obtaining support. Crown of a Continent was something of a challenge. We recently had the luxury of a total sponsorship package from Woods Canada on our last trip – Labrador Odyssey 2001. Woods had gone in a different direction and we could hardly complain as they had been a tremendous supporter for more than a decade. The challenge was to again find a company that understood what we do and how it would fit into their needs.

Having a continuous run of successful trips is no guarantee of landing a sponsor, though it certainly helps. Nevertheless, I have a stack of rejection letters, emails – and one preprinted kiss-off card – from five different large companies we thought would be a good fit. Undaunted I approached the people who would really care that we could draw attention to northern Saskatchewan and Alberta – the provincial tourism people.

As I have written many times, obtaining sponsors is all about what you can do for them. They have to be clear about what you are offering – and so do you. In our case we have access to mass media, through the newspapers and Internet. This was the key in obtaining support from Sask Travel and Travel Alberta. We had to look what they could offer – and that’s not a wad of cash – but rather support for travel within their area. We were fortunate that Crown of a Continent spanned two provinces – doubling the potential support.

The trip was to start in Ft McMurray, Alberta and fly into Ile-a-la-Crosse, Sask with charter operator Voyage Air who also have bases in both provinces. After the dropoff, we would paddle back to Ft, McMurray to our gear. The provincial tourism people were able to assist with the charter flight costs and canoe rentals, a normal part of their business of supply travel costs to media who would write stories that people would see about their wonderful provinces. This is a great fit for everyone.

We were less successful with other companies for whom we though we would be a good fit. One in particular, I really felt would be a great pairing was Tim Horton's. This Canadian institution, now American-owned, is the top purveyor of coffee and baked goods in this country. Their very clever TV ads focus on the chain’s intimate ‘Canadian-ness’, something we thought tied into that quintessential Canadian activity – canoeing. After all, there’s scarcely a canoe trip that doesn’t end and/or begin at a Tim’s along the way. Our ultimate result was a big donut however.

It is also very hard to penetrate a large corporation with its many layers and you really need an angel or enlightened CEO such as David Earthy at Woods Canada who wants to make a true corporate commitment.

We were also fortunate in getting support from the following companies; Yamaha (generator), Globalstar Canada (satphone), Saw Ridge Inns (accommodation) and Canadian Tourism Commission (sked flight assistance). All in all, we covered about 75 per cent of our costs which is quite respectable. Some of that support will be there in the future but you’re never really sure until you are there. We will pick up those leads next year, I hope.

The Canoe Web site was all set to host the trip once again. Indeed, most of the site had been written and a superb map had been produced by Sean Peake. We will keep all of that on ice for the next time but some of it is presented here.

Fate has reminded us never to make our plans too far ahead with much certainty. However, we hope to perhaps do this trip next year but who really knows what the year ahead will bring this time? Having a story from the same area, which begins on the next page, was a great stroke of luck and we are fortunate that Andy Breckenridge was willing and so able to provide us with an first-rate trip report.  One mention on our trip research, and his. It caused us to look more deeply at the book Canoeing the Churchill by Sid Robinson and Ted Marchildon. This is an incredible resource – absolutely brimming with info, photos, drawings of the Churchill River system and a great read for those paddling in the area or not.


 Summer 2004         Outfit 117 

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