The BHMS Junior High Voyageurs

Junior High Program hosts annual Canoe Trips for over 10 years.

Junior High students experience an annual Odyssey-style journey as a way to build community, resilience and confidence.

This year the trip took place over four days covering approximately 20 kilometres each day. “We use different sections of the Rideau Canal waterways as our route each year, camping at the various provincial parks, lock stations and campgrounds along the way,” says Junior High Director Matt MacKay, who also participated in the paddle last week. “Students cooked their own community meals on site every morning and evening.”

The group traveled in 34-foot long voyageur canoes with guides from the Rideau Roundtable who help to educate the group on the ecology and history of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Each night the group camped and cooked their own meals staying at Murphys Point Provincial Park and Poonamalie Lockstation. “As much as the students enjoy the experience of paddling the voyageur canoes, sleeping out every night, campfires, swimming and the experience of locking up, their favourite part is exploring the communities along the way,” MacKay said. “Exploring amazing communities like Merrickville, Perth and Kemptville in full day trips, sometimes finding opportunities to volunteer for those communities.” This year, they spent a day exploring Smiths Falls, and they visited the Rideau Canal Waterway Museum, explored and shared a community meal before returning to camp at Poonamalie Lock Station for the night.

“We were initially dropped off in Westport and paddled with our guide Jake of Rideau Roundtable to our lunch stop at Narrows Lockstation. We continued our day by exploring the Anglers Inn grounds on Colonel By Island before finally arriving at Murphys Point Provincial Park for the night,” MacKay said. “On day two, we paddled to Rideau Ferry where we enjoyed our lunch before continuing on to Poonamalie Lockstation where we locked through and explored back up the original path of the water learning about the lock system and it’s flora and fauna. We returned to Poonamalie Lockstation and set up camp at their wonderful grounds. They have such a great crew here.” On Friday, the group moved through the Smiths Falls locks to their final destination of Edmonds Lockstation. Along the way, they did some water sampling and testing with Rideau Roundtable and the school’s science teacher who joined them for the day.

At the end of the school year, the group does a five-day cycling tour of more than 350 kilometres from Ashton to Amhurst Island, west of Kingston. This has been an annual event for 35 years. Article credit: Inside Ottawa Valley / News

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