As friends grieve the loss of an exceptional figure in the teaching community, some details are emerging about the canoe trip that took a tragic turn for David and Enid Dice.

David Dice, 66, died on Kinosaskaw Lake when his canoe capsized. His wife Enid, 62, was able to swim to shore and spent eight days in the wilderness before being rescued Tuesday.

One of the first people to speak to Enid after the ordeal was Ric Driediger, owner of Churchill River Canoe Outfitters, who was also one of the last people to see the couple before they set out on their trip.

'She hadn't eaten for eight days and was trying to get food down but really couldn't.' - Outfitter Ric Driediger

He says he learned, from Enid, that the couple's canoe capsized as they were navigating a set of rapids on the lake known as Needle Falls.

They were separated and Enid swam to shore with her husband's backpack that had a sleeping bag and an emergency fire-starting kit. There was no food, however.

Driediger said she was still recovering from the ordeal.

"She was very weak definitely," Driediger told CBC News Thursday. "She hadn't eaten for eight days and was trying to get food down but really couldn't, or found it difficult anyway."

According to friends, both David and Enid were accomplished sporting enthusiasts. Enid is known as a strong swimmer and David was a master paddler with lots of experience.

Dice, retired, an admired teacher

News of the tragedy has prompted many people to reflect on the contributions David Dice made through a long teaching career.

Dice, who retired about seven years ago, was known as an inspiring figure in the classroom and a leader in athletics, specifically track and field.

"The moment that I heard the news I was deeply saddened," Dawn Kilmer, the principal at Carlton Comprehensive High School in Prince Albert, where David taught for some 30 years, told CBC News. "Dave was exceptional. He's someone that I would classify as a great man and a wonderful leader."

In the sporting community, Dice was noted for his deep commitment to track, as a coach and an official.

"He got kids interested in [track]," Ellen Grewcock, president of the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame, said. "He made it fun, he got them pumped, he was just the guru of track."

In 2003 he was nominated for induction into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame.

"He's very humble," Grewcock remembered. "He said, 'You know, there's other people who deserve this.' I think he felt hugely honoured."

Friends told CBC News that Dice spent much of his retirement canoeing and camping with his family. Grewcock said many people were shocked that Dice, known as a stickler for safety, would die in a canoe accident.

"[Of] all the people, I wouldn't expect anything tragic to happen to him," she said. "He was so well versed in travelling those rivers and lakes."

In addition to his wife, Enid, he leaves two sons Graeme and Geoffrey.