Mother Nature made us work for it up until the final paddle stroke!

On August 30, 2013, after paddling about 9,500 km from Victoria, BC, we paddled into Quebec City, QC.

Self-portrait after paddling under the Pont de Quebec (the Quebec Bridge) in Quebec city.

Self-portrait after paddling under the Pont de Quebec (the Quebec Bridge) in Quebec city.

We bucked the tide and donned our rain gear to pull into the Yacht Club de Quebec in the dark on Friday, August 30, 2013.  We were actually one day early (possibly the only time we’ve been early for anything this trip) because a nasty headwind was predicted to coincide with an incoming tide (against us) during the time we’d scheduled to arrive on Saturday.

The ramp was treacherous because it was low tide.  It is interesting to note that the tides are 20 feet in Quebec City!

The ramp was treacherous because it was low tide. It is interesting to note that the tides are 20 feet in Quebec City!

One of the oldest yacht clubs in North America, the Yacht Club de Quebec, were very welcoming, considering that they didn’t know we were coming!  They even gave us a pennant to commemorate the occasion.  We will treasure this unexpected souvenir of our finish.

Yacht Club de Quebec (Photo by Pak Wong)

God love them, our family and friends jumped into cars and taxis and met us at the Yacht Club in the rain at barely an hours notice.  They slipped and  slopped down the slimey ramp and sweet-talked the surprised security guard into letting us disembark, drink champagne, and load up our canoe.

Everyone lent a hand in unloading our gear and hauling up the canoe.  It was wonderful to toast our success with champagne in the company of friends and family.

Everyone lent a hand in unloading our gear and hauling up the canoe. It was wonderful to toast our success with champagne in the company of friends and family. (Photo by Pak Wong – that is why he is not in the picture)

Geoff and I continue to be stunned that the trip we have dreamed and planned for years, has finally ended.  It has been such a daily part of our lives for so long that it is hard to imagine next summer without it.

A moment to hug my best friend while our finish sunk in.

Taking a moment for our finish to sink in.

How did we feel?

Triumphant, overwhelmed, jubilant, relieved, proud…everything all at once!

Celebration time!

Thank you to everyone who attended our celebration.  We had a wonderful time and are grateful to our family and friends who made the journey to Quebec City to party with us.  We raised a glass to those who couldn’t make it – we’d like to thank everyone for the congratulatory emails and messages.

Jude and Alex are discussing the passing ships.  We chose this room because we had a view of the St. Lawrence, the Old City, Chateau Frontenac, and the Parliament Buildings.

Jude and Alex are discussing the passing ships. We chose this room because we had a view of the St. Lawrence, the Old City, Chateau Frontenac, and the Parliament Buildings.

In his typical style, Taq made himself right at home in the middle of the festivities.

In his typical style, Taq made himself right at home in the middle of the festivities.

Not only has our family believed in us from the beginning, they’ve also supported us physically by helping us with logistics, shuttling gear and supplies, and driving us to and from various corners of Canada.  This trip has highlighted how important family and friends are – we couldn’t have done it without them.  We are grateful to have such wonderful people in our lives.

Allyson and Pak Wong (Pam's parents)

Allyson and Pak Wong (Pam’s parents)

This photo was taken in Oak Bay (outside of Victoria, BC) where Bob (Geoff's Dad, Peter (Geoff's brother), and Katy (Geoff's Mom) dropped us off to begin our trip.

This photo was taken in Oak Bay (outside of Victoria, BC) where Bob (Geoff’s Dad), Peter (Geoff’s brother), and Katy (Geoff’s Mom) dropped us off to begin our trip.

Phil Harrison (Pam's Dad) and Wendy Harrison (Pam's sister)

Phil Harrison (Pam’s Dad) and Wendy Harrison (Pam’s sister)

What is next?  How will you top this?

These seem to be a common questions that everyone keeps asking us.  Our answer (to both questions) is that we don’t exactly know.

We are tossing around the idea of writing a book, however, that seems more daunting than the actual undertaking of the trip.  It is difficult to know where to start and how the publishing process works.  Besides, would people buy it?  Any advice would be welcome.

Geoff already has a stack of canoeing books by the side of the bed – there are many places in Canada we have dreamed of exploring, but couldn’t fit them into the trip.  We don’t know what our next adventure will be, however, we do know that we aren’t going to stop exploring Canada by Canoe.

Thank you!

  • Pierre and Jennifer were instrumental in making the party a success.  Jennifer loaned us a screen and projector and helped us get everything set up.  We really valued all of their tips for paddling between Ottawa and Montreal.  We wish them every success on their upcoming paddling adventures.

Pierre and Jennifer

  • Leaving our house for months would normally be a big worry, but fortunately, we have wonderful friends/neighbours to set our mind at ease:
    • Mike Nelson and Shannon King checked on our house throughout the summer. Mike turned on our water and got everything ready for our guests and also our return home.  It was really nice to arrive home with all of our utilities ready to go.
    • Randy and Tipparat Hughes looked after the exterior of our house.  Their daughter, Kira, helped Randy mow our lawn and trim the hedges.  Also, Randy saw that our eaves-troughs were getting clogged, so he cleaned them out for us.  We loved the flowers you left on our table to welcome us home.
  • Ben & Deb Guerard hauled our plants back and forth to their home to look after them for the whole summer.  I dare say they look better than when we left!
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14 Responses to Quebec City – We made it!!!!!

  1. Erin says:

    Hi to you all! I loved hearing about your story through the CBC and went to your website to find out more! As a new mother and an avid canoeist, I have so many questions which I couldn’t find on our website. Things like:
    1) How did you afford your trip every summer? How did you get the time off work? How much did it cost you approximately each summer?
    2) How did portages work? You must have had to double back at least once to carry all your gear??
    3) How did supplies work? How much food did you carry with you and when would you need to stock up (every week?). How did you carry diapers with you or did you use disposables? Did you warm up milk for your son to drink? The logistics of all your supplies baffles me!
    4) It would be great to see a complete list of all your gear/supplies you brought with you. Fascinating!
    5) How did you store your food at night? Would you hang it all in trees where available? What if no tall trees were around?
    6) Would love to know what you cooked every night for dinner! What types of dinners did you cook? Breakfasts? Lunchs? How varied were your meals or were they fairly simple due to limited ingredients available? Very interested.
    7) Bathroom breaks – did you dig/bury along the way?

    It’s such an accomplishment, your cross Canada canoe trip. It’s so brave and inspiring. Congratulations on tackling your dream. Can’t wait to hear what you will do next!
    Thanks for sharing,

    Erin

  2. Tom says:

    Great Job you guys! I’m so happy for you to have completed a dream you have both shared since the beginning!

  3. Jaiden says:

    WOW!!!! Congratulations 🙂 That is amazing that you are finally done, and I admire you for everything that you have accomplished. I am currently working on a geography project about your trip so thanks so much!

    • The MacDonalds says:

      Hello Jaiden,

      Thank you very much for your post – apologies for taking so long to get back to you. How did your geography project turn out? Would you be interested in sharing more details about your project with us?

      Have a great summer!

      Pam & Geoff

  4. Michael says:

    Amazing story!! Congratulations!

  5. Nancy James says:

    Wonderful trip, and good humoured all the way. Eh.

  6. Onni Milne says:

    I heard your interview on January 11 on CBC radio (DNTO). I just looked through your photo gallery. What superb experiences for you and your children. You have given them experiences that are meaningful and priceless. Good on you for persevering through the tough times to achieve your goal.

  7. Lee Lovo says:

    Hello,
    I have just discovered your great story on the internet! I have enjoyed reading about the adventures so far. I skipped forward and started to read about your final arrival in Quebec City and noticed a familiar name in Calgary! We have known Tippi and Randy for many years now. They were one of our first Calgary Thai connections. Our daughter Ornmadee was born in Thailand and now at the age of 19, is a flat water sprint kayak and War Canoe competitor and coach. Ken and I have had a wee bit of canoeing experience and have always talked about exploring more.
    He will be quite interested to hear of your stories and the connection. When he gets back home from saturday morning hockey (He and Randy have played for years on the same team), I will share it with him. Best of luck with your future adventures!

    • The MacDonalds says:

      Hello!

      Thank you very much for your post. It sounds like you are an adventurous family; I bet you would find many great canoe trips you could do as a family here in Alberta. Is your daughter coaching and competing here in Calgary?
      Chanya has looked after our sons in the past while we madly prepared for the trip, and Kira looked after our yard while we were away last summer. The first day we moved into the neighbourhood, Tipparat came buy with a plate of delicious Thai food to welcome us. Such wonderful people!
      Have a great summer 🙂

  8. Cory Baron says:

    Hi Pam & Geoff!

    Your trip is quite the inspiration! I’m envious of your experience…and of your shared passion for wilderness adventures. I live near Winnipeg and do most of my wilderness canoe trips in Northwestern Ontario. My wife isn’t as enthusiastic about getting our kids in the canoe (6 & 3 years), but I think 2014 might be a break-out year for our family.

    I’m curious if you’ve made a decision about whether to publish a book about your experience? There are aspects of your trip that I’m particularly curious about…some which appeared throughout your chronological posts, but some which did not.
    1) If you don’t publish a book, will you consider adding another layer of organization to your blog – perhaps by subject?
    2) What were your most useful resources for planning your trips?
    3) What advice can you offer for keeping young children comfortable and occupied for multi-day trips (never-mind multi-month trips!)?
    4) What sort of a seat did you have for Jade in the last couple years of your trip?
    5) What are some unexpected lessons and highlights from your trip?
    6) What were a couple of your most memorable experiences with wildlife?
    7) What were some of your favourite recipes used on the trip?
    8) What kind of a canoe yoke (and accessories) did you use, and would you recommend it?
    9) What was your preferred method to manage risk of bugs during day & night?
    10) How did you manage time away from work over so many seasons? Did you resign or change employers?

    I’ve asked enough questions to be a nuisance. No rush in answering them. We got more snow today in the Winnipeg area, so canoeing season in Manitoba is difficult to imagine at this stage. Maybe one more weekend of cross country skiing is more realistic!?

    Thanks for your time in considering a response. Wishing you and your family good health and more fulfilling adventures!
    Cory Baron
    Headingley, Manitoba

  9. jasmine says:

    Hi! Awesome trip you guys! I was wondering what rivers you took to get to quebec. I am planning for my friends from Edmonton AB to Montreal Quebec. If you could tell me the rivers you took that would be awesome! Or if you email me at Jasminela@csud.ca

    Thanks in advance!

    • The MacDonalds says:

      Hi Jasmine,

      Sounds like an amazing trip! A general list of rivers we took from Alberta to Quebec: South Saskatchewan River to Lake Diefenbaker, Qu’Appelle River to Assiniboine River to Winnipeg, Red River with a portage over to the Winnipeg River to Kenora, through the Boundary waters on multiple lakes and rivers resulting in 50+ portages that lead to Grand Portage, MN on Lake Superior. We paddled Lake Superior to Lake Huron, around Georgian Bay to the Trent-Severn Waterway that led us to Lake Ontario. We paddled to Kingston then hopped onto the Rideau Canal up to Ottawa where we locked down to the Ottawa River that lead us to the St. Lawrence and thus to Quebec City!

      Google Earth is a great tool to investigate different areas you are interested in paddling through. We loved every leg of the journey because of how beautiful and diverse our country is. Have a great trip!

      Pam & Geoff

  10. Wow, we know this is a verrry delayed congratulations, but we just came across your site. Not sure if you remember us but we definitely remember you and Taq too. We met you in Alaska (or was it BC) when you paddled into a cove we were anchored in. We had you over for dinner and tried to treat you to nice warm showers…but the water was cold:o(( We so enjoyed meeting you and have spoke often about what a great adventure you were on. We continued on from Alaska back thru Mexico, Central America, Panama Canal and the Caribbean. We returned to Big Bear Calif in 2009. Would love to hear from you guys! We admirer you so and congratulate you on your voyage!! Ken & Dottie

  11. Lani says:

    :))
    Thanks! Between your’s , Verlan’s, Cliff’s , Joannie & Garry’s , David’s, Alexander’s and a few other’s crossings, I thank you all you all for the stories and heart warming inspiration to paddle across Canada as well starting next year.

    Cheers to all , well done 🙂

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