Last March 2020, I was reading the paper from Kitchener/Waterloo, when an article caught my eye. It was about a family that was canoeing to the Atlantic Ocean, from Guelph, Ontario. Over the last several years, they have done a one or two-week canoe trip each summer, making their way to the ocean.
Last year was a trip from Kingston to Cornwall. They were looking for places to camp overnight along their way, so I contacted them and offered our property here on Ash Island, for the night of August 22nd. (Funnily enough, it turned out that years ago, when my husband's company was in Guelph, Jeremy Shute used their services and remembered my husband, Drew. It just proves that it's a very small world.)
On the morning of August 22nd, I was getting super excited. My husband calls me the "camp counselor", as I love meeting new people and helping them out. My girlfriend on Downie Island also was keeping an eye out for them. I was expecting two canoes . . . but she texted me and said she saw four canoes and a kayak (9 people altogether) coming downbound. I laughed as I waved them in, as I’d never asked how many canoes there would be or how many people to expect. That just wasn't important, I guess!!
It was the most beautiful day, with clear blue skies, and hardly any wind. When they came in, it was introductions all around, and then they unpacked their canoes (so organized) and got their tents put up on our bluffs overlooking the river and down by the dock. They brought everything they needed; I didn't need to supply anything but a bathroom and coffee in the morning. They were totally self-sufficient. Best visitors to have!!
It was such a nice hot day, and they were all tired, so swimming off the dock was the first activity, then fishing, and then a nice cold beer. It could have been in the opposite order . . . It's the camp counsellor's job to provide a relaxing atmosphere and lots of activities!
Docktails (cocktails on the dock) were fun that night, as well as getting to know each other again and for the first time. Music and dancing on the dock, another of my favourite things to do! I think they enjoyed it as well.
That evening, the sunset was spectacular. (As always on the River.) They all sat up on the patio on the bluffs late that night and watched the stars in all their glory.
They were the best bunch of people and so down to earth. I would host them again in a heartbeat.
Before they left on Sunday morning, one of the men played "Taps" on his trumpet, up on the bluffs for us, overlooking the river. It was to say thank-you and a wonderful send-off. It was something else - so beautiful to hear.
This year, they are canoeing from Cornwall to Montreal from August 12-25,2021, and they are always looking for places to camp overnight. If anyone has an offer for an overnight stay, contact me, and I'll pass on the information. Go to their Facebook page 'Speed to Sea' and watch their continuing journey.
By Nora Detlor, Ash Island
Nora Detlor was born in Montreal, and grew up in Galt, Cambridge, ON. She worked in the financial world for 35 years. Nora and her husband, Drew, first came to the Thousand Islands together as she says "in our teens, twenties, thirties, forties and bought our happy place on Ash island in our fifties." When not entertaining family, friends and voyageurs Nora can be found happily doing some incredible cross-stitching projects.
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