Comox Valley Echo:  Pair start canoe trek across Canada

After 10 years of dreaming and planning to canoe and portage 8,000 miles across Canada, Pamela Harrison MacDonald and husband Geoff MacDonald are finally on their way.

The thirty one year olds, accompanied by their Alaskan Malamute dog Taq, spent some time in Comox last week at the home of their website and newsletter sponsors, Mary and Glenn Fidler, owners of Regenesis Holistic Resources, a Comox health store. The first leg of their arduous journey kicked off in Victoria on March 22 with radio coverage by Paul Vasey of CBC’s “On The Island” and front page coverage in the Victoria Times Colonist, and will end in St. Johns Newfoundland in three to four years.

The couple are no strangers to planning, preparation, study and determination, as the information on their website graphically illustrates.

In addition to their respective university degrees in business and geological studies, the two list an impressive variety of accomplishments to date. The diminutive Pam has extensive survival training, ski patrol training, and a Black Belt in karate. Her proudest running moment was completing the Haliburton 100 Mile Trail Race in 29 hours and 35 minutes. It turns out that she’s a pretty good contender in a game of pool too.

Geoff, who went on his first canoe trip when he was 12 with an organization called Camp Voyageur, has canoed and hiked all across Canada and Europe. When the camp stopped offering canoe trips after his first summer, he signed up for the Voyageur Program at Camp Ecole Keno in Quebec. Over the three summers he spent there he paddled many rivers, such as the Batiscan, Ste. Anne, Metabetchouane (and Metascouac), Bostonnais, and Ashuapmuchoune.

“I made some great friends.” Geoff remembers. “Those were glorious summers of my youth, providing me with the background necessary to undertake my own trips from then on.”

After leaving the Comox area, Pam, Geoff and Taq will paddle through Okisollo Channel to Quadra Island in their 18 foot red prospector canoe, and then up the coast to Bella Coola, where they will stock up on provisions before heading up the Dean Channel to begin the first 50 kilometre portage. It is their hope to winter on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. Easily done if you say it quickly!

To view a map of the journey and follow the couple’s progress, visit their website at www.canoeacrosscanada.ca and sign up for their free newsletter.

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