Celebrate Local Tourism with Canoes for Conservation

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The Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy focuses on the health and safety of our great Lake Superior to protect the largest freshwater lake on the planet for generations to come.

Joanie McGuffin, Executive Director of the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy joins SaultOnline to talk about the importance of our local tourism through their latest project, Canoes for Conservation.

Canoes for Conservation began in 2019 as a pilot project by the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy to support communities in developing waterfront access to the St. Mary’s waterway and our great lakes.

“We have this amazing geography, and a way to experience that geography is from the water,” McGuffin shares, “Right here at Baawating, in the heart of Turtle Island, we are at one of the most amazing cultural, ecological teaching locations anywhere.”

Canoes for Conservation offers big canoe tours that are anchored in the history of the land, and of the original peoples who inhabited the area.  Sault Ste. Marie has a strong heritage of canoeing as a main method of transportation, so it only makes sense to see and learn about the city and waterways from the water.

Tours can take place out of the St. Mary’s River, Gros Cap, Batchewana, and Sinclair Cove.  Special requests can be accommodated.

Each tour includes two interpretive guides, all gear needed (lifejackets and paddles), safety and paddling instructions, food for the tour, and group photographs. Tours can range from 2-3 hours, and can normally accommodate groups of up to 14 people in their 36 foot canoe, and up to 8 people in their 26 foot canoe. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, tours are currently limited to a maximum of 10 people in the 36 foot, and 6 people in the 26 footer.

“A great platform for teaching about the great outdoors and nature is from a big canoe.  It’s a safe, stable platform, and with two interpretive guides, you can bring people of all generations, all abilities and have a wonderful on-water experience.  Learning about freshwater ecology of the river, and the whole heritage of canoeing that goes back thousands of years,” McGuffin explains.

This method of travel offers an interactive platform for people of all ages and abilities to tour from the water. These tours are great for team building, workshops and conferences, as well as professional development.

“Tourism week is an important time to remember that as we come out of recovering from COVID and this pandemic, it’s helped us all look at the importance of getting into the outdoors and out into nature.  Northern Ontario is an amazing place to experience nature and the outdoors, so we’re hoping that Canoes for Conservation serves as a model for not only interpretive guided experiences, meaning that you have people to teach you these wonderful stories about the ecology and culture of the region, so you go away with a greater appreciation. It’s also really good for local people to learn more about their own backyard.”

Canoes for Conservation will also be installing a forty foot dock at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig to allow better connection for the community and University to engage with the land and water.

“That’s going to give us some really amazing programming to connect with the Children of Shingwauk Exhibit at Algoma University, so people can really experience that piece of the cultural story of our region,” McGuffin shares.