Jay’s Great Canadian Canoe Quest
To fulfill a long-held personal dream, and in support of CPAWS' work to conserve Canada's great Boreal wilderness, Jay Morrison paddled and portaged over 3,000 km across Canada between April 9th and August 1st 2006, along the historic trade routes established by the Aboriginal peoples and later used by European explorers and fur traders.
Jay's amazing expedition started in the ocean tides of the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Les Escoumins, Quebec, and followed the vast Boreal forest that stretches across Quebec, Ontario and eastern Manitoba. In 2007 and 2008, he paddled another 5,000 km to the Arctic Ocean.
Jay's canoe is an item of special interest in itself. After Jay built it himself, the canoe was decorated by artist Dot Bonnenfant with images of creatures symbolic of both Aboriginal culture and of the Canadian landscape. Jay has built several canoes in cedar and other wood materials, creating innovations that permit lighter weight with sufficient strength for wilderness tripping. For this trip, he has designed a unique wood and epoxy canoe inspired by the decked Verlen Kruger canoes intended for extreme big water expeditions, although lightened to allow single-carry portaging of the boat and gear over the Canadian Shield. At 16.5 feet in length and only 28 inches wide, this boat is built for both speed and seaworthiness. It weighs just 36 pounds.
The canoe is named in both the Algonquin and Ojibway languages: "Kida-Aakiinan" and "Daki Menan", respectively which mean "Our Land" in the inclusive sense of being shared by all of the humans and creatures in it. This name honours the traditional values of the Aboriginal people which include decision-making for the long term (seven generations) and the taking only of resources from the land that can be sustained, values that much of modern society has yet to appreciate but will become increasingly important in the future.
Jay is a dedicated conservationist and has served as a member of the CPAWS-Ottawa Valley chapter's board of directors for the past 7 years. He is also a CPAWS National Trustee. He is leading the CPAWS campaign to protect the Dumoine River watershed in Quebec and promoting greater protection of wilderness in the Temagami area. He is an articulate spokesperson for conservation.
Jay grew up beside the St. Lawrence Seaway near Montreal. After spending the best part of his boyhood "messing around in boats" of all kinds, he's become a highly experienced paddler who is a recognized authority on lightweight, efficient wilderness canoe tripping. He has conducted extended self-guided remote canoe trips both in groups and solo, to such destinations as James Bay and the Yukon. Jay is a certified Ontario Recreational Canoeing Association level II Moving Water Instructor and has led numerous canoe trips, and organized and taught whitewater paddling courses for the past eight years. Jay is a past-president of the Ottawa YMCA-YWCA Canoe Camping Club.
Jay is an accomplished endurance athlete having been a member of Canada's National age group Triathlon Team six times in the 1990's and represented Canada at World Championships in Canada, England, New Zealand and Mexico. He prepared for the trip with a program of running, cycling, cross country skiing, weight training and indoor paddling. The success of the expedition will require physical preparation and extraordinary effort but will also hinge on meticulous planning, wilderness skills, disciplined judgment, and luck.
Jay recently retired from the Treasury Board of Canada where he spent the latter part of his career with the Federal Government as a senior advisor on management practices.
Jay's trip is only possible thanks to the support of many generous sponsors who have provided services, support, cash, significant discounts and equipment.
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