What do you do when your canoe tips at the beginning of a 10 km journey? Carry on and support the Don!
On Sunday May 5, 2019, the Greenbelt team had a blast at Paddle the Don. Sponsored by Manulife, the annual Paddle the Don event brings together recreationalists, conservationists, and corporations to voyage Canada’s most urbanized watershed, the Don River. Over the course of 3 hours, paddlers took on 10km of rapids, portages and Canadian geese to raise awareness about the health and importance of having protected, flowing urban river valleys.
“TAKE A SHARP RIGHT” … “PADDLE HARD” … “You’re going to stay right, then go left, then paddle as fast as you can – avoid the rock – then take a sharp right” … “WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?”
Conditions were much wilder than we expected with class-one rapids and long stretches of tight turns and unique twists. But it was an opportunity for adventure, teamwork and most importantly, a chance to experience the Don River’s stunning characteristics and wise currents. With navigational guidance from river cops, volunteers and kind citizens out for a Sunday stroll, paddlers (as gracefully as possible) enjoyed the sunshine and saw parts of the city that are often unseen.
Community fundraising efforts for Paddle the Don are delegated to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and assist with the conservation of our natural systems in the Toronto Region. Our urban river valleys play a huge role in ensuring 7 million Ontarians have clean drinking water and sustaining the health of our Great Lakes. In 2017, we were thrilled when the Greenbelt protection expanded to 21 major urban river valleys and 7 coastal wetlands across the Greater Golden Horseshoe!
Live bands, a BBQ and a playground filled with laughter were waiting for us at the finish line. Some of us were more wet than others but the one thing we all had in common was an admiration for the incredible Don River.