This will be the ONLY canoe in the expected 11 km flotilla parade event next weekend - Canada's designated vessel to the flotilla parade: a Voyageur Canoe from Paddle Canada in partnership with the Canadian Canoe Museum!!
Sunday June 3: - Watch Live: The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant will be live on CBC News Network and CBCNews.ca at 9 a.m. ET and on CBC-TV at 9:30 a.m. ET. The pageant features up to 1,000 boats on the Thames River, assembled from across the Commonwealth and around the world. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will travel in the Royal Barge, forming the centrepiece of the flotilla. Peter Mansbridge hosts the broadcast.
Original Post: A few weeks ago, I got a call from James Raffan, Executive Director of the Canadian Canoe Museum with an unusual request. The Canadian High Commission with orders from the Prime Ministers office, had tasked James with the job of finding a big canoe to paddle in the upcoming Queen's Jubilee Celebration Flotilla in England on June 3. After convincing the pageant organizers that a voyageur canoe was sea worthy and safe, a 1st Nations group was then contacted in western Canada, who said yes initially to using their dugout canoe, but then upon further inspection said their boat woudn't be ready in time, due to repairs needed to the vessel. Thus the phone call to Paddle Canada office. It just so happens, that the two PC's Canots du Nord were not in use (and not since 2008). So after some quick discussions with the Board of Directors, the decision was to give the green light to James to use one of the canoes needed for the event.
Fast forward to today, on very short notice (about an hour), I rushed up to Seeley's Bay, ON this afternoon for the christening and launch of the refurbished "Canada One" canoe that is going to Queen's Jubilee. Half the town folks were there along with a film crew from CBC The National, and the local fire department with fire house to recreate the fountains on the Thames River perhaps?
The most amazing thing is the condition of this boat now. At the time of the first phone call, there was a birds nest in the boat, gunnels needed replacing, seats fixing and recovering plus the hull needed sanding and painting (inside and out). So in one weeks time, a team of 8 friends of James in Seeley's Bay went to work fixing, sanding, building and restoring the canoe. It looks fantastic now. As I rode today in the bow of the canoe of this 30 yr old boat (James Raffan in the stern), i was amazed out how brand new the boat looks and feels. This is truly a remarkable accomplishment, of a community coming together and getting the job done. James and I were joking afterwards that the 2nd canoe will likely take 6 months to be restored at the museum, to the same state as the first one (when there will be no deadline of course).
James and the canoe are en route to Trenton, ON tomorrow, where the boat will be loaded on a military transport plane and flown over to England. James will fly with the boat to make sure it is handled properly, and be Canada's ambassador and gouvernail in the boat during the large flotilla that is to take place on the Thames River in downtown London.
The long term plan for these two canoes is under negotiation right now. But a likely scenario will be that the Canadian Canoe Museum become the guardians of the boats (caring and storing for the boats in return for use of them). Paddle Canada will retain ownership of the vessels.