After a 31 year break, the Northern Hardware Prince George Canoe Race came back in 2015 and now its turning out to be stronger than ever.
Paddlers from all over North America flocked to the banks of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers Sunday racing in two different classes. The Alexander Mackenzie class saw competitors paddle tandem from Isle Pierre to Prince George over a distance of 67.5 kilometres. The other Simon Fraser class saw competitors race 35 kilometres from Wilson Park on all types of canoes, including standing paddle-boarders. Both races ended at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.
Cory Williamson paddled 26 kilometres with his kids who are members of the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club. He says it was a tough challenge and fun for the whole family. “It was beautiful, the water was quite a bit lower than last year so the conditions in different sections were a bit better, but it’s all about picking the fastest lines and everybody working together.”
However, the big attraction of the day was the maiden voyage of a hand-crafted tradition dugout canoe made by Lheidli T’enneh Elder Robert Frederick and his team over the last two weeks. The canoe will now be the third of Frederick’s on display at Exploration Place for the newest ‘Path of the Paddle’ exhibit.
Frederick says he hopes many more First Nations groups get involved in the future. “It kind of makes me want to get more dugouts in and have a few more dugouts paddling in a competition,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind making a really good racing one for the events so that will be something for me to think about for next year.”