This Smithers family of four canoed and camped for 32 days

This Smithers family of four canoed and camped for 32 days

Canoe vacation with the whole family

The family boat is covered by a custom-made deck that has openings for people to pop through, as well as a pocket for the sail.

  • Sep. 5, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Leigh, Brenda, Mya and Natasha Purvis arrived in Nakusp to spend the last of their family vacation away from their home in Smithers. Unlike most visitors they made the trek mostly by canoe.

Arriving on Wednesday, Aug. 28 in their 20-foot red and yellow canoe, the four had been out on the water boating all the way from Valemont. Traveling at a speed of 15 kilometres a day, they canoed the 365 km in 32 days, taking rest days between paddle time.

Readers might think ‘wait a minute, there are two very large obstacles for boaters on the way from Valemont to Nakusp: Mica dam and Revelstoke dam.’ Getting around the dams was actually easy, Leigh told the Arrow Lakes News. Their ultralight kevlar canoe has a set of wheels that makes portaging around huge concrete obstructions a snap, especially if the way back down to the water is paved.

The family boat, from Clipper in Abbotsford, is covered by a custom-made deck that has openings for people to pop through, as well as a pocket for the sail. Yes, the skookum canoe also has a sail that can be used when the wind is going the right way, saving arms hours of oar work. The sail unfolds from its small pouch, and Brenda serves as its anchor, while Leigh uses a paddle as a rudder to steer. Sailing, they can reach speeds of up to 10 kilometres per hour, about twice as fast as hauling on a paddle.

Along with the two adults and two kids, in the boat was all the camping gear to make the trip, including dehydrated food dried at home in preparation for the voyage. Getting ready for the trip took about a month, but the planning started last winter.

Before this trip, the family had spent 14 days touring Stuart Lake in the fall of 2012. Planning for that excursion had been an adventure in learning more about the history of the area, as well as the weather. Stuart Lake is notorious for changeable weather. In the end the trip was cut short by strong winds.

During this summer’s voyage from Valemont, the family thrilled an Austrian tourist camping at Blanket Creek. He was so excited, he kept repeating “it’s so Canadian, it’s so Canadian,” said Brenda.

But canoe trips aren’t at all common anymore. Leigh said they saw only two other canoes during their descent down the lakes.

“It  feels like a sense of accomplishment as well as a really great family vacation,” said Brenda about their voyageur-type trips.

The next water journey will be on a river, Leigh the paddling dad said, who is considering a nice gentle northern waterway like the Yukon River for an upcoming adventure.