I learned about boating from….

A boy!

Actually, it was a boyfriend of my mother’s when I was about 12. He was an “outdoors man”, who loved to hike, ski, camp, and canoe-so naturally we became “outdoorsy” too. Canoeing was GREAT, and I took to it almost immediately.

I do not remember wearing lifejackets.

I remember two adults, two kids, 1 dog, and a boatload of gear (we were likely way overpacked)

I remember paddling on a large lake, with big waves, wind, and rain. It was so windy and heavily raining, that my brother and I were told to lie down (it made the boat less tippy) and we were covered with a tarp (to keep the rain off us)

Shortly after that trip, I went to summer camp and was taught how to canoe by trained instructors. This is when I perhaps learned that the adults in my life had great intentions by taking us canoeing, but they were doing it all “wrong”!

I was taught safety, technique, and to always wear my PFD. I took these teachings back to my family. Maybe they were my first students!

Eventually, I became an instructor and guide and taught others how to paddle.

And now, I am the Executive Director of Paddle Canada, our National recreational paddling organization, and a Director of the Canadian Safe Boating Council-all because someone took me out in a boat!


Michelle McShane


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