Centennial Voyageur Canoe Pageant
The competitors, representing eight provinces and two territories, are tracing a route through rushing rivers, along windswept lakes and across gruelling portages. It's a way of paying homage to the fur-trading voyageurs and explorers who opened up the country, and spectators in the hundreds have turned out to watch the official start on a rainy day. CBC reporter Doug McIlraith talks to two team captains from Manitoba and New Brunswick about the journey ahead.
• The race stopped in about 90 towns and cities along the route. Almost everywhere the paddlers stopped they were greeted with a grand feast, and in Ottawa they were treated to a reception at Rideau Hall.
• These modern voyageurs also consumed plenty of food of their own: 30,000 eggs, 10,000 litres of milk, 5,000 loaves of bread and almost 12 tonnes of steaks, bacon, potatoes, butter and honey.
• At the end of each day there were sprint races with prize money raised by local communities. There were also lap races along the way, up to 150 kilometres long. Times for both were tallied, and in the end Manitoba was fastest: 531 hours, six minutes. Runner-up British Columbia was just 80 minutes behind.
• One of the Manitobans was Don Starkell, who would later break records paddling to the Amazon River in 1980 and across the Arctic ten years later.
• The paddlers arrived at the Expo site in Montreal after traversing 26 bodies of water. They had carried each loaded canoe, weighing 180 kilograms, over 70 portages - 100 kilometres in total.
• CBC Television broadcast their arrival live. The CBC Times program schedule promoted the event: "Ten bronzed, calloused and weary teams... will shoot the dangerous Lachine rapids and paddle to Montreal's north shore on September 4th to end a gruelling, hazardous journey."
Program: CBC Radio News Special
Broadcast Date: May 24, 1967
Guest(s): Norm Crerar, Henry Land
Host: Bill Guest
Reporter: Garnet Anthony, Fred Diehl, Doug McIlraith
Photo: Frank Grant / National Archives of Canada / PA-185522
Last updated: February 8, 2012
Page consulted on December 7, 2012
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