Thursday, 10 August 2017 09:09

Man canoeing 7,000 kms to say Happy Birthday

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Mike Ranta is a modern-day voyageur. The 45-year-old retired oil field worker is canoeing 7,000 kms across Canada to mark the nation’s 150th anniversary.


Mike is crossing the country as a way to wish “happy birthday to Canada,” he said. The mode of transportation he chose is an appropriate symbol for the nation because it unites Canadians from different backgrounds. Mike said everyone can understand what a canoe is and what role it served in the Canada’s history.
Apart from celebrating 150 years of Confederation, Mike also wants to educate the public about the challenges Canadian veterans face. More specifically, he said many former soldiers are not being treated fairly by the government in regards to their pensions and health care. He added a significant number aren’t getting the resources they need to recover from post-traumatic stress disorder. 
Mike’s incredible journey began April 1 in Bella Coola, a town of 2,000 people located on the Pacific Coast. After ascending a series of rivers and lakes, Mike placed his canoe on a cart and walked 130 kms along the Trans-Canada between Kinbasket Lake, B.C. and Lake Louise, Alta. This portage took him over the continental divide. When it was complete, he launched into the Bow River, which becomes the South Saskatchewan where it merges with the Old Man River southwest of Medicine Hat.
Mike reached Medicine Hat May 28. His progress was aided by rising water and strong current brought on by the melting snow pack in the Rocky Mountains. He went from The Hat to Sandy Point Campground in two days instead of the four it usually takes.
Accompanying Mike is his best friend Spitzii. A seasoned traveller, the 9-year-old Finnish spitz was first introduced to canoeing when only a pup of six weeks of age. “He’s in his element,” Mike said of his dog that sits at the bow of the canoe and watches for logs, rocks or changes in the weather.  Mike followed the South Saskatchewan into Lake Winnipeg, where he is currently. Next, he’ll ascend the Winnipeg River to access Lake of the Woods before following the Rainy and Pigeon Rivers to Lake Superior. By skirting the north shore of this most dangerous of the Great Lakes, Mike will transition to Lake Huron before entering a series of canals that lead to Ottawa.
After descending the Ottawa River to Montreal, he’ll proceed on the St. Lawrence Seaway to Rivière-du-Loup, Que., then portage to the Madawaska River in order the cross New Brunswick before reaching salt water. He’ll follow the Atlantic Coast until he gets to Cape Breton Island. His final destination is Dominion Beach, where he hopes to arrive by Oct. 31.
When asked what advice he has for fellow Canadians who want to pursue their dreams, Mike answered, “Go for it. There are no limits in this country for what you can do.”
Equipped with a tracking device, Mike uploads his location to his website every ten minutes. To follow his progress, please visit mikeranta.ca.
Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing. For more info about his speaking engagements, phone 306-661-8975 or visit: www.canoetoneworleans.com.

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Dominique Liboiron

Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing.