Fifteen-knot winds and a flood tide forced paddlers in Voyageur canoes off the water, but they still completed the annual Peninsula Paddle for the Kids.
The 36th annual event was on Saturday, April 1, with around 45 participants from the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club. Spokesperson Phil McEvoy says it was a good turnout and donations so far this year are more than $14,000 — with more money trickling in.
The Paddle is an annual fundraiser by the Club and over the last 36 years, they’ve raised more than $320,000 to support the Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan — a residential summer camp for children with physical and cognitive disabilities.
McEvoy said the raise money all year long, culminating in the Paddle event. Of course, the Club members are still accepting donations. The $14,000-plus they brought in this year will help send kids to the camp. It costs around $2,500 per child to attend.
The paddlers put in at the Tsawout First Nation boat ramp and set out on a 75-kilometre route around the Saanich Peninsula, past Oak Bay and into Victoria’s Inner Harbour, ending at their clubhouse on the Gorge waterway. McEvoy said the three canoes made it almost all the way, but did have to pull the canoes out for safety reasons when the wind whipped up.
The paddle at one time was an 80-kilometre trip between Vancouver Island and Port Angeles, Washington State. McEvoy said that ended after a 28-year run, when the Royal Canadian Navy could no longer supply a support vessel for the voyage. That paddle used the naval vessel to change out canoe crews and it helped keep them safe. When budget cuts meant the navy could no longer do it, McEvoy said the Club wanted to continue with the fundraiser and changed the route to its current 75-kilometre path.
Leading up to the big annual Paddle, McEvoy said members participate in various training events that take place in the waters around the region. Next year’s Paddle takes place around the same time of year. Donations are still bing accepted at eastersealbcy.ca.