Neebing Voyageur Brigade opts to keep Centennial Canoe

A Thunder Bay group that does voyageur re-enactments says it has no plans to give up a historical canoe.

Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown says canoe should no longer be used and needs to be preserved

Ontario's centennial canoe was used 46 years ago in a cross-Canada race involving teams from all provinces. Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown said four of Ontario's paddlers were from his community and he wants to give the canoe a higher profile. (Supplied)

A Thunder Bay group that does voyageur re-enactments says it has no plans to give up a historical canoe.

The Neebing Voyageur Brigade appeared before councillors Monday night to update them on the status of the Centennial Canoe.

A delegation from Atikokan recently made its own pitch, asking city council to help get the boat to that community.

"A number of the brigade members literally put their heart and soul and sweat and tears into this canoe," said brigade spokesperson Susan Mounstephen.

Brigade members work hard to "[get] it back to … where it could be used and then maintaining … from building a custom canoe trailer to getting a custom canoe tarp."

She noted the Neebing Brigade is still active and it continues to keep the McGillivray Canoe in good shape.

‘Most unfortunate’

Nevertheless, Atikokan's mayor said he's disappointed the brigade has no intention of giving up the canoe.

"We question how well it's been maintained," said Mayor Dennis Brown. "We think there could be a lot more done to it, putting it on display inside and fixing it up and so on. That's what we're prepared to do in Atikokan. [This is] just most unfortunate this whole thing is happening."

The canoe was originally used as part of the 1967 centennial celebrations.

"We're prepared to give them a replica canoe so we can preserve this Centennial Canoe, which is what we think should be done with a piece of history like that for the province of Ontario," Brown said.

"It happened in 1967 … the canoe's wearing out, it shouldn't even be used. It should be put on display so everybody can see it."

But representatives from the Voyageur Brigade said they had no interest in using a replica and said that it would be impossible to make an exact replica nowadays.

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs said he hopes the matter will now be put to rest.