July 2, 2012 – The Fort Qu’Appelle Times

The Fort Qu’Appelle Times:  Family Canoes Across Canada

For the fifth season, Geoff and Pam MacDonald left Victoria on their three and a half month canoe trip and stopped for a break in Fort Qu’Appelle.

Travelling in their 20 foot canoe which accommodates three weeks food supplies, camping equipment, first aid boxes, fresh water, a huge Malamute dog, Taq and their two year-old son, Jude, this family are a third of the way through their route.

“We had previously canoed in the northern part of Saskatchewan and into Manitoba on our cross-Canada route but found this time we had to change our original route which brought us into southern Saskatchewan,” said Pam MacDonald.

“While we have spent so much time in remote areas, we are finding that the people are as much about Saskathewan and Canada as the land and countryside is and we are thoroughly enjoying filling that gap meeting and talking to residents at our rest stops,” she added.

The MacDonalds have always been avid ‘outdoorsmen,’ Pam spent time at a wilderness school as a student, caretaker and instructor and built and lived in a primitive shelter for four seasons. Geoff first began canoeing at the age of 12 and spent the next three summers in the voyageur program in Quebec. He says he has been guiding his own canoe trips ever since.

Since the arrival of their son, their canoe trips have continued and Pam says it isn’t difficult accommodating a small boy.

“He has his own space to sit and sleep with his box of toys and he’s really very, very happy. He now has his own paddle which is anchored to the seat and enjoys helping us.

“When we set up camp for the night, we each have our own tasks, Geoff likes to cook so he takes care of that, Jude loves to sit and play in the sand or the rocks and I set up the campsite, take pictures and log the journals,” she said.

As for their dog Taq, he too enjoys being in the canoe and at night wards off any and all wildlife, including bears.

“Naturally we are very safety conscious but more so now that we have Jude and our time frames revolve around him and his needs. It works very well,” she added.

As the family prepared to leave the shores of Echo Lake for the next leg of their tour, there will be an additional space to find for a new addition to the team next season as Pam is pregnant with their second child.

“We’ll just carry two weeks worth of food instead of three and make more stops to stock up again. That will leave ample room for our baby on the next trip,” she concluded.

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