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Post Number: 16
Registered: 11-2009

Posted on Monday, March 21, 2011 - 9:05 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Kirk Wipper passed away suddenly Friday. From email that James Raffan sent out:

"I regret to inform you that Kirk died suddenly last evening. He was with Ann and friends at Elmhirst's Resort and, apparently, choked on a piece of meat and they were unable to clear his airway. His neighbour Don White called from the Peterborough Hospital at about 11:40 to relay the sad news. Ann's son Mike was with them, as are the friends and neighbours so she is not alone. I know you will join me in conveying heartfelt condolences to Ann and the rest of Kirk's family.

One of Kirk's favourite poets was 19th Century English writer William Arthur Dunkerley, who, under the pen name John Oxenham, wrote, "For death begins with life's first breath, and life begins at the touch of death." So ends and era. And so begins another, hard as that is to fathom at this moment.

As you may know, Kirk was honoured last fall with the Ron Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award by his peers and colleagues in the Ontario Camping Association. In conjunction with this honour, the OCA made a short film to mark the occasion. (If you'd like to have a look, here is the link to OCA tribute on YouTube, Interview With Kirk Wipper and OCA)

Near the end of this retrospective on his life, Kirk—prophetically, as it turns out—recites a poem called "The Way" by John Oxenham. There will be much more to be said and done to mark the passing of this life that has brought us all together, this life that has done so much for Canada ... but until we all get organized and back on our feet I leave you with these words spoken by Kirk himself just a couple of months ago and send them along with stunned disbelief, I'm sure you share, that the time has come to say goodbye to our old friend.

To every man there openeth

A Way and Ways and A Way

And the High Soul climbs the High Way

And the Low Soul gropes the Low

And in between on the misty flats

The rest drift to and fro;

But to every man there openeth

A Way and Ways and The Way (this is Kirk's personal variant on the poet's original line)

And every man decideth

The way his soul shall go

This past evening, sadly, a High Soul has paddled on.

Details about arrangements will follow.


"You have to do what you can, do your best with what you are. And you have to believe in wilderness. If you do that you can't go wrong."

Kirk Albert Walter Wipper, b Grahamdale, Manitoba, December 6th, 1923, d Peterborough, Ontario, March 18, 2011"

I was a Phys. Ed. student of Kirk's at U of T in the 70s.... and I worked for him at Kandalore....even got involved with Kanawa with his "encouragement" (Kirk was very good at getting one involved). Kirk will be missed by so many....not jus...t in the paddling world. He encouraged many of us to do 'great' matter how small they might seem (or actually be). My thoughts go out to Kirk's family....especially his wife Ann.

Kirk joined the faculty of the School of Physical and Health Education in 1950, where he was an Assistant Professor until his retirement in 1987. This is where I got to know him originally as a student. Recognized as a pioneer in the development of outdoor education in Canada, Kirk owned Camp Kandalore for a number of years. He was a past president of the Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association (now Paddle Canada). Kirk is probably best known for putting together the Kanawa International Collection of Canoes, Kayaks and Rowing Craft. This amazing collection of over 600 watercraft became the core of the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough. Kirk was still involved with the Museum, acting as a volunteer resource person for the collection; Kirk was recognized as the founder of the Canadian Canoe Museum. He was a Fellow of Explorers International and a recipient of the Government of Canada Centenary Medal and the Ontario Bicentennial Medal. He was also named to the Order of Canada. After retiring from the University of Toronto in 1987, Kirk served as President of the Royal Life Saving Society of Canada and National Director of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards in Canada.

Kirk was a mentor and inspiration to so many of us involved in canoeing and the outdoors. James Raffan, the Executive Director of the Canadian Canoe Museum, was a “Kandalore boy”. I know Kirk was very important in my life….I have learned so much from him….he became more than just my Prof….he became my friend and mentor….from Kirk I learned to have a “quest for zest”….even to come up with terrible puns LOL LOL (or “Wipperisms”)....mostly Kirk showed me that you could do anything if you wanted it bad enough….he taught me to follow my dreams. To me he is among the “royalty” of canoeing and the outdoors in Canada….alongside such names as Bill Mason, Omer Stringer, Pierre Trudeau and Walter Walker. Thanks Kirk for all you taught me. Paddles up then!!!!

NOTE: Details of Kirk's funeral and memorial service are up on the museum's website Visitation for close friends and family is set for this Friday 2-8 followed by the funeral and reception at 11 a.m. on Saturday--all happening at Keene United Church, in the village of Keene not far from where Kirk and Ann lived. For the wider community, a memorial gathering entitled "Travelling On: Celebrating the Life and Passions of Kirk Wipper," will be happening at The Canadian Canoe Museum on Saturday, April 30th at 2 p.m. followed by a reception at the museum. Anyone moved to contribute a song or story to this celebration should contact the museum (705) 748-9153 or email
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Post Number: 17
Registered: 11-2009

Posted on Monday, March 21, 2011 - 9:16 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Here is the link to OCA tribute (mentioned above) on YouTube, Interview With Kirk Wipper and OCA:
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Post Number: 18
Registered: 11-2009

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 6:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Kirk Wipper's Life and Work to be Celebrated Sunday May 1st at Canoe Museum
Please note that the date for the Kirk Wipper memorial gathering has been changed. "Travelling On: Celebrating the Life and Passions of Kirk Wipper" will be now held at The Canadian Canoe Museum on Sunday, May 1st, 2011, 2 p.m. followed by a reception at the museum. Anyone moved to contribute a song or story to this celebration should contact the museum (705) 748-9153 or email
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Post Number: 1
Registered: 12-2012
Posted on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 8:28 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

There is a new exhibit at the Canadian Canoe Museum featuring the life and times of Kirk and how the museum came to be. rk-at-the-canadian-canoe-museum

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