|WORLD'S OLDEST CANOE-TRIP OPERATOR|
FOR QUALIFICATION AS THE OLDEST organized canoe-trip operation, it had to be continuously operating year after year for the longest period of time and still be operating today. I sought any canoe-trip business, operator, public or private institution or program anywhere in the world. Seventy-five per cent of the qualifying operators' customers, students, clients or users must spend 75 per cent of their time traveling on a canoe trip or series of canoe trips that are at least two nights and three days long. The canoes used must be the North American-style open canoe, sometimes referred to as the Canadian canoe or Maine guide canoe, and are non-motorized.
This criteria ruled out youth camps (and there were many) that had a strong emphasis on canoe tripping, but where canoe-tripping did not dominate their program.
There were many institutions in the twentieth century that relied heavily on canoe trips, like the Hudson's Bay Company that supplied inland posts by canoe brigade. Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources (then Department of Lands and Forests) operated teams of fire rangers in the pre-bushplane days that kept open by canoe vast networks of portages for firefighting access, and the fighters themselves traveled to fires by canoe. Trucks, trains and planes have supplanted their canoes.
Aboriginal canoe use has not traditionally been organized except between families or in brigades for the trading companies. My research on aboriginal use is not complete by its nature, but I have learned enough to draw some safe conclusions. Native-Canadians and native-Americans who used canoes would travel together when sharing each other's hunting territory or in seasonal travel to trading posts. Trading post travel by canoe has ended. Virtually all canoe travel, even on remote hunting territories, has been supplanted by the outboard motor. In those rare cases that families still share grounds, it has not been done with the same family groups or has not been done continuously since World War I.
Today canoe-tripping institutions are limited to outfitters, schools and youth camps. From this group, only two operations could be found, both youth camps, that fit the criteria and have operated since before 1915. Keewaydin, the oldest, and Camp Pathfinder in Algonquin Park in southern Ontario, operating since 1914. Ironically, Pathfinder was co-founded by a former Keewaydin staff member.
Much of this research overlapped with research on the world's largest canvas-canoe fleets, world's oldest canoeing organizations and world's oldest camps. Among those whom I sought out for help were prominent canoe-tripping individuals like Kirk Wipper, James Raffan, Craig Macdonald, Ralph Frese and Bruce Hodgins. Over a hundred potentially qualifying institutions were contacted directly. The following organizations were also canvassed:
Alberta Camping Association
American Camping Association
American Canoe Association
Associations des camps du Quebec
British Columbia Camping Association
Camping Association of Nova Scotia
Canadian Canoe Museum
Canadian Recreational Canoe Association
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
German Canoe Federation
Grand Council of the Cree
International Camping Fellowship
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Manitoba Camping Association
Maine Youth Camping Association
New Brunswick Camping Committee
Ontario Camping Association
Ontario Recreational Canoe Association
Open Canoe Association of Great Britain
Saskatchewan Camping Association
Scottish Canoe Association
South African Canoe Federation
Wooden Canoe Heritage Association
Maps and information herein are not intended for navigational use, and are not represented to be correct in every respect.
All pages intended for reference use only, and all pages are subject to change with new information and without notice.
The author/publisher accepts no responsibility or liability for use of the information on these pages.
Wilderness travel and canoeing possess inherent risk.
It is the sole responsibility of the paddler and outdoor traveler to determine whether he/she is qualified for these activities.
Copyright © 2000-2013 Brian Back. All rights reserved.
We do not endorse and are not responsible for the content of any linked document on an external site.