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.