Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s (CPAWS) Wildlands League chapter is pleased to announce that its biggest Paddle the Rouge event yet will be held on June 18th. Now in its third year, this event is a fun for all ages, families and corporations designed to connect people to nature in Rouge Park through the river. It is also a fundraising event to support CPAWS’ work to protect parks in Ontario including Rouge Park.  Up to 200 people are expected to paddle this year including 50 youth in our free “Learn to Paddle” lesson.

“This is a one of kind community and fundraising event where people of all skills and experience can leisurely paddle the river and experience nature and wildlife in their own backyard,” says Janet Sumner, Executive Director for the group. “We are excited and grateful for the support from our first two corporate sponsors: Tembec and Ontario Power Generation,” Sumner said.

“We have an excellent relationship with CPAWS and are pleased to support the Paddle,” said Michel Lessard, Vice President of Tembec. “It’s a joy to be able to get out in canoes and kayaks with kids and employees to celebrate the river and park. It is also an opportunity to take time out and be grateful for what nature brings to us,” added Lessard.

“Helping to connect families to nature in their own backyards through Paddle the Rouge is a wonderful cause and we are pleased to support it,” says Ted Gruetzner, Vice President of Corporate Relations and Communications of Ontario Power Generation. “We’re sponsoring boats for youth, so kids in the city can paddle for free,” Gruetzner added.

Rouge Park is located on the eastern boundary of the City of Toronto and houses much of the lower Rouge River watershed-one of the last in Western Lake Ontario to remain free of urban development. It protects a rare Carolinian forest, is home to over 1700 species of plants and animals, including 23 species at risk and provides the only ecological connection for wildlife between the Oak Ridges Moraine and Lake Ontario.

The park was slated to become part of Canada’s first National Urban Park, however, the initiative stalled when the previous federal government failed to prioritize nature conservation in law. All is not lost as a commitment by the new federal government to work with Ontario to improve the legislation means there is new hope for a National Urban Park here. CPAWS is hopeful a solution can be found because the remarkable ecological values here deserve no less.

Registration for Paddle the Rouge is now open. The day will be jam packed with events. There will be delicious food for sale provided by a local Toronto chef. Participants can picnic on the beach after the paddle and new in 2016—thanks to local Métis Councils—participants will be able to see a voyageur canoe (one of Canada’s earliest modes of mass transportation), and learn more about the local history through story-telling, fiddle and jig demonstrations, and much more.

Last year Paddle the Rouge was a big hit with parents and kids who had never had a chance to get on the river before. See video here from last year’s youth paddle.

Sponsorship packages, registration and information on the paddle can be found here.

Wildlands League is a not for profit conservation organization in Ontario, Canada and a chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.


About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.