The Life and Times of Scott, the Big Red Canoe
Hi, my name is Scott. The year was nineteen-eighty-something, and I was a brand new, sparkling red canoe fresh out of the mold. The manufacturer designed me to be friendly, to give confidence to new paddlers, and to be stable and reliable like the family dog. I didn’t know it at the time, but the years to come would be filled with paddling adventures. I was built to last, and my owner-to-be had big ambitions and a deep respect for the outdoors and this country’s pristine waterways.
His parents purchased me as a graduation gift, and it was love at first sight for both us – him, a young wildling in the making, and me, the vessel that would help shape him into the man he’d become. He took me out for our very first paddle together that afternoon, and we immediately fell in sync with each other. After that, we were inseparable spending as much time on the water as his schedule would allow and experiencing a connection with nature that can only be found in the back-country.
Some of my fondest memories come from our solo camping trips in Frontenac Park, Algonquin, or Charleston Lake. Our encounters with wildlife such as moose, otters, and even bears brought us closer to one another and closer to the true meaning of paddling. We grew up together, developing our skills on and off the water and learning life lessons that can’t be taught from a book or a classroom; even some of our best friends came into our lives during our expeditions.
It was during a community-hosted canoeing event that my owner was paired with the other love of his life. I’ll never forget his opening line, “I had no idea angels could paddle.”
She rolled her eyes so quickly that I was tempted to roll with them and save him the embarrassment by dumping them both in the lake. But by time the day was over, they were both laughing and fawning over each other like high school kids on their first date. I remember feeling a stroke of jealously, thinking I would be forgotten and left ashore while they floated away towards their future together. I needn’t have worried, because our adventures became that much more special with the three of us exploring and sharing each other’s company.
She cared for me when he was away for work, cleaning the grim off my body, repairing old wounds, and bringing me back to my former, lustrous self. And when the time finally came, he proposed to her while we were out for an early morning paddle. I watched as the water ran down my hull like the tears of joy that streamed down her face when she said yes.
The kids came along shortly after that, and we turned into one big family. As life flowed on, our trips became shorter and fewer between, but that only made them more memorable and sacred to us. Eventually, I was moved to the cottage where I became the kids’ favourite ‘toy’ during their summer vacation, and they grew up on the water in the same way my owner and I did.
Over twenty years have gone by now, and as we continue to age, I’ve become too heavy for him to carry. He recently bought a lighter version of me in order to keep tripping, and while I miss our time together, I’m getting old too. Recreational day paddles are more my speed, and the grand kids are doing their best to keep me youthful and on the water. These days, I spend a lot of time on shore looking out at the lake and dreaming of the days gone by, but I hear the musical laughter of children coming my way. It’s time to load up for another adventure and add a few more pages to my story; the Life and Times of Scott, the Big Red Canoe hasn’t come to an end just yet.
When will yours begin?
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