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David Lewis, secretary of the Milton Canoe and Camera Club, stands by the foundation for the new canoe storage building. Lewis is hoping the site is operational for the 2019 canoeing season.
David Lewis, secretary of the Milton Canoe and Camera Club, stands by the foundation for the new canoe storage building. Lewis is hoping the site is operational for the 2019 canoeing season. - Aethne Hinchliffe

Summer canoe school set to start again in Milton

MILTON – Members of the Milton Canoe and Camera Club will soon be launching their canoes and dipping their paddles into the Mersey River again.

Registration for the summer canoe school is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m. June 19, with classes set to begin the following Tuesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. 

Although the Milton Canoe and Camera Club is in the process of changing locations, this season, the classes will continue at Morton’s Wharf across from Morton House on Highway 8 in Milton. 

Next spring, paddlers will likely be launching their canoes from the other side of the Mersey River. A canoe storage building is being constructed at 137 West St. in Milton.

Following the rezoning process, club secretary David Lewis says the organization bought the property. The club also had to get a variance, explained Lewis.

“Because for institutional, you’ve got to be 20 feet from the property line,” he said. 

In addition to the building going up, the club also has to remove some trees to build a parking lot. Another part of the project will be getting a new septic system installed.

“Also, part of the project is to move our existing little boathouse that’s over there at Morton’s,” said Lewis, who’s been involved with the club since 1996.

Members plan to put the boathouse by the water. 

“And a new dock. We want a new dock,” added Lewis. 

Lewis says the building will have a wheelchair accessible washroom. 

Canoe school

Summer canoe school consists of basic instructions, information about safety and equipment. Students also learn paddling strokes. Classes cover what’s necessary for people to enjoy some recreational canoeing. 

“It’s a life skill,” said Lewis about canoeing and why people might want to learn the sport. 

Like any sport, participants get what they put into it. Lewis said people can gain physical and mental benefits from practicing canoeing. 

“It’s awesome to be out on the waterways,” he said. 

Work is being done to build the Milton Canoe and Camera Club’s new canoe storage building at 137 West Street in Milton.
Work is being done to build the Milton Canoe and Camera Club’s new canoe storage building at 137 West Street in Milton.

A typical lesson begins with some instructions on land. Students learn about all the equipment, including the parts of the canoe and paddle. Depending on the group, there might be a game.

Once on the water, paddlers practice the skills they’ve been taught on land. Paddlers might head toward Liverpool or they might go toward the bridge, said Lewis. 

The evening might finish with a game on the water, which would allow students to use their steering skills. 

“Also, the region has asked us if we’d partner with them this year to have a family paddle night once a month through the summer,” said Lewis. 

For the family nights, Lewis said the club could take a maximum of 20 people. The July and August dates are  yet to be announced. 

“We’re kind of limited by our equipment,” he explained. 

Club in community

Beyond summer paddling, the Milton Canoe and Camera Club is active in the community. Lewis said for the last number of years, the club has helped with Christmas on the Mersey. 

“Last year, we went to the try-a-boat day down at the marina,” he said. 

The club has also helped by hosting some races during Privateer Days. 

Lewis said the club also helps with school groups. Adam Leuschner, a physical education and behaviour support teacher at Dr. John C. Wickwire Academy, occasionally takes groups of students out to paddle. 

For information about the Milton Canoe and Camera Club or the summer canoe school, contact David Lewis by phone at 902-354-4931 or email at dlewis1692@gmail.com.

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