Thunder Bay

Paddler Mike Ranta celebrates Atikokan homecoming

Cross-country canoeist Mike Ranta received a hero's welcome in his home-town of Atikokan this week.

Ranta hopes his solo cross-country canoe trip will break a world record

Friends in Atikokan welcomed Ranta with signs and t-shirts celebrating his journey. (Ange Sponchia)

Cross-country canoeist Mike Ranta received a hero's welcome in his home-town of Atikokan this week.

Ranta, and his canine companion Spitzi, are in the midst of a cross-country paddle from the shores of Vancouver, to Cape Breton.

"You know I run off well-wishes and that's why I do what I do. I could not do this trip without the support of the people in my home town," Ranta said.

He is aiming to set a record for the world's longest solo paddle, and along the way, to inspire young people in his community.

Mike Ranta celebrates with friends at his welcome home party in Atikokan. (Ange Sponchia)

Plans to arrive in Atikokan for Canada Day were scuttled by bad weather, and strong currents along the Winnipeg River, but Ranta finally paddled into town on Wednesday afternoon.

He was greeted with a community celebration.

"It was great. I had food there for me, of course, they had some treats for my dog, and the mayor was there, and it was just a real feel-good day," said Ranta. "I'm still a little bit beside myself." 

Treacherous Manitoba waters "very frustrating"

Ranta, who began his journey on the West Coast in April, said the last few weeks of his trip have been the most difficult.

Travelling through rain-drenched Manitoba he was confronted by extremely high water levels, strong currents, even a near lightning strike. 

"It was incredible. It was a very, very tough fight."

Tough enough, Ranta said, to slow him down, but not to stop him.  

"My determination to get home, and to continue across this great land, you know ... I don't believe there's a river in the world out there that could do that ... that could stop me on that end."

Ranta will be back on the water on Friday morning, with the goal of reaching the East Coast this fall.

He said the enthusiastic support from people in his home town will give him strength as he begins the second half of his journey.