Ice canoe race draws 175 athletes to Montreal for ultimate showdown

There's nothing that says Quebec quite like canoeing in the winter, on ice. Ice canoeing — a uniquely Quebec sport that dates back to the 17th century — was on display at Montreal's Old Port today.

What do you get when you mix ice, canoes and athletes? A sport that is uniquely Quebec, of course

Five-member teams use spiked boots to propel themselves along the ice until they hit open water and can start rowing. (Michel Emond/Défi Canot à Glace)

Ice canoeing — it's a tradition that dates back to the 17th century, when locals needed a way to cross the St. Lawrence River between Quebec City and Lévis during the winter months.

Overtime, the winter activity evolved from a necessary means of transportation into a competitive sport.

Flash forward to 2016, when 175 participants from as far away in the province as Rimouski and Abitibi gathered at Montreal's Old Port on Saturday for the fourth annual Ice Canoe Challenge.

The five members teams use spiked boots to propel themselves along the ice until they hit open water, at which point they jump into their canoes and paddle like mad. 

CBC's Raffy Boudjikanian stopped by the race on Saturday to watch as athletes faced off in the unique Quebec sport.


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