Ric and Theresa Driediger are the owners of Churchill River Canoe Outfitters.
Ric started guiding canoe trips in this area in 1973 and he has never left. If he hasn’t been on a canoe route in Saskatchewan, he has talked with several groups who have. He is full of stories and information that will be an asset to any canoe trip you can imagine in these parts.
In 1976, after guiding a few summers Ric started a non-profit company called Wilderness Trails. This organization primarily took church youth groups on canoe trips. While guiding a canoe trip in the summer of 1978 Ric met his future partner, Theresa and were married in 1979. In 1979, Ric started a for-profit company called Horizons Unlimited. Horizons worked along side Wilderness Trails in offering canoe trips to the public. In 1986 Horizons Unlimited purchased Churchill River Canoe Outfitters. Ric is still there.
Up until the early 90s, Ric spent most of his summer days guiding. From that time on, Ric has spent more of his time in Missinipe, meeting groups as they start and finish canoe trips. He loves hearing their stories and telling stories from other groups as they pass through.
During the winter months, Ric works as a pastor in the Mennonite Church. His sermons are full of references to a life time spent in wilderness.
Theresa grew up spending time in wilderness with her family at their various places of escape throughout Alberta. She has always been comfortable in the outdoors. Theresa loves cooking over a fire.
She met Ric on a canoe trip he was guiding. They were soon married and guided canoe trips together.
Theresa has a love of the art of building a variety of things. She built beautiful cedar epoxy canoes to pay her way through her masters degree. She continues to be creatively involved in many crafts. She uses this creative genius in the maintaining of Churchill River Canoe Outfitters.
Theresa is a Registered Psychologist. She has worked in indigenous communities across northern Saskatchewan and Alberta. She now has a practice in both Saskatoon and Rosthern.
Eating well and traveling light are two key elements for an enjoyable paddle in the wilderness. Heidi, our Food Manager has spent a large part of her life studying food preparation and dehydration. Born and raised in British Columbia, Canada, Heidi has always been an avid canoeist, four-season camper, and cross-country skier.
Heidi met Ric Driediger in her former capacity as Recreation Director for the Saskatchewan Canoe Association, (now Canoe Kayak Saskatchewan). Upon learning of her wilderness cuisine culinary skills, Ric recruited Heidi to CRCO. Our guests have been enjoying her savory delights under the Northern Lights for the past twelve years.
Heidi's knowledge of dehydration techniques and canoe-tripping recipes comes from her experience on the water. She is an accomplished canoeist and guide, holding Canoe Tripping II, Lake Water I, and Flat Water Instructor certificates. She has spent a great deal of time on the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, and travelled the waters in the Prince Albert National Park, the Gieke River, the Thlewiaza River and the Thelon River. When time allows, she explores Otter Lake, parts of the Churchill and north of the Churchill.
"Anybody can go out in the wilderness and be uncomfortable. It takes a little thought and finess to be comfortable. I like to try out new ideas and recipes by field-testing them on a trip before I offer them to our clients."
As well as preparing tasty fare, Heidi carefully considers the nutritional needs of each party she supplies. She is always looking for new ways to provide clients with the extra calories they need on the water and to replace the fats lost in the dehydration process.
There's nothing like enjoying one of Heidi's gourmet wilderness creations beside pristine waters, with a loon calling in the background, after a long day's paddle. There isn't a Five-Star restaurant in the world that can offer that!
Sarah was born and grew up at Churchill River Canoe Outfitters. She loves going out canoeing in the evenings to practice her solo flatwater strokes. Sarah enjoys working in the CRCO office. Her inherited knowledge of the area has helped many guests plan their canoe trips.
Sarah is a Registered Massage Therapist and Certified Lymphedema Therapist and has opened her own business, Achieve Massage Therapy in Winnipeg. She is easily recognized by her big smile and if you go down to the CRCO dock in the evening, she may be paddling her little red canoe.
Dan, being the son of Ric and Theresa, has been a part of the business all his life. He grew up aorund the guides and his family always went out on canoe trips. Sometimes only for a couple days and sometimes for over a week. He fell in love with canoeing then and started guiding after he graduated high school. He continues to love canoeing and enjoys sharing his passion for canoeing with others. He has local knowledge of the area that goes far beyond his years.
Dan is certified by Paddle Canada in the areas of Canoe Tripping and Lakewater Paddling and has passed private courses in white-water canoe tripping. He holds certification fromthe Canadian Red Cross in Wilderness and Remote Areas First Aid, and from Rescue 3 International and Raven Rescue as a Swiftwater Rescue Technician.
Spurgeon has been working part time for CRCO for a couple of years. He is a Paddle Canada Moving Water Instructor. He lives in Regina with his wife and two daughters where he works as a counsellor and social worker and runs "Healing Hands", an outreach that helps young gang members get ahead.
Tom is from Canmore, Alberta where for close to 25 years he has guided mountaineering and ski touring trips through his company Sawback Alpine Adventures. He's an internationally certified Mountain Guide (IFMGA/ACMG). So -- what's he doing in Northern Saskatchewan?!
In September 2017, after paddling the Hawkrock with his 14 yr old son Rohan, Tom visited Ric in Missinipe. Over coffee in the CRCO office Ric convinced Tom that spending his summers paddling and helping run the CRCO office would be a much better idea than climbing mountains for a living. So Tom and Rohan are here in Missinipe for the 2018 Summer testing the waters.
Tom has done many paddling trips, both with family as well as solo, throughout northern Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC and the USA. He holds a couple of modest Paddle Canada certifications that really aren't worth mentioning.
Chris started his canoeing career by paddling from here to the coast of Hudson Bay. That was back in the mid 90s. Even though the trip was tough, it inspired him to keep paddling. He is an awesome guide and an exceptional white water instructor. He is also a white water instructor for the Madawaska Kanu Camp in Ontario.
When Chris isn't paddling he works as a doctor in Saskatoon. He lives in Saskatoon with his wife, Sue and two daughters Anna and Heidi.
Andrea enjoys being connected to the land both environmentally and historically. She has extensive knowledge of boreal plants and many of their uses. She also enjoys learning and teaching about the history of northern Saskatchewan and how Saskatchewan grew from voyagers travelling through. She is an experienced guide with a love of the wilderness and canoeing that allows her to share her passion.
Andrea is certified as a Wilderness First Responder, Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Advanced Canoe Tripping Instructor, WILD Educator and Facilitator, and Heritage Interpreter.
In the spring of 2018 Andrea took a full time job working with Parks Canada, so will only be guiding a couple of trips for us this summer. We miss her a lot, and so do all of our guests.
Nick has worked at Churchill River Canoe Outfitters since 2009 doing mostly guiding and instructing, His first canoe trip was when he was in junior high school. Ric lead the trip for the youth group of his church and they got to experience the Churchill River for the first time. "It draws you in and its hard not to come back." So that is exactly what he did, coming abck every summer until it became a full time job.
Nick was privileged to learn his canoeing skills from a number of CRCO legends in his first few years with the company. They inspired in him a passion for the North and it’s rivers that has increased it’s hold on him ever since.
Nick is a certified tandem moving water canoe instructor and also holds certification in Wilderness First Aid and Swift Water Rescue as well as a variety of other canoeing disciplines. Nick enjoys taking families out on canoe trips more than anything. Nothing beats building forts way back in the trees with a boatload of kids!
Rock climbing is one of Nick’s other passions, and together with Tim Dueck and Dan Driediger, they have been exploring the ‘off the beaten path’ areas near Missinipe to find more crags and cliffs to climb. This has led them to all sorts of wonderful spots that have no business being walked to. But the tough slogs are usually worth it! Nick is currently completing his Masters program in Grenada
Jimmy can’t get enough of paddling; plain and simple he has been described as a rapid junky. At an early age he was challenged to paddle a new river each year and has been holding up his end of the bargain so far. His first love is canoe tripping but if it floats he will paddle it…
Jimmy spent 2004 living and working at Churchill River Canoe Outfitterswhich started his guiding and instructing career. He is now around on a part-time basis whenever we can fit him into the schedule. In order to fully indulge his appetite for a paddling fix, Jimmy works during the winter months in Central America teaching whitewater canoeing and guiding kayak trips. If you don’t find him in up at Missinipe then he is likely teaching the British Army to paddle around the world.
Jimmy’s paddling experience in Saskatchewan includes the Fond-du-Lac, Porcupine,Clearwater, Paull, Weaver, Tazin, and Abitau Rivers just to name a few. Outside ofSaskatchewan he has a list of rivers as long as his arm covering most of Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Ecuador, and Belize.
“I don’t care how nice it is anywhere else, the Churchill River is the best paddling ever. Period! The rapids are warm, fun, not crowded and challenging enough for any level of paddler.”
Jimmy’s life is focused on the water and he holds a Master’s degree in Hydrology along with being a Paddle Canada Instructor in Moving Water and Lakewater Canoeing, Level 2 Sea Kayaking, and River Kayaking. Further to this Jimmy is trained as a Wilderness First Responder, and a Swiftwater Rescue Instructor.
Derek’s passion for northern Saskatchewan must have developed from birth. For as long as he can remember the boreal forest has felt like home. The Churchill River has fascinated him since childhood. Countless childhood hours were invested exploring on the huge slabs of rock on the river right shore of Otter Rapids. The sights, sounds, and smells of the Churchill River were permanently imprinted in his being. Derek currently lives with his wonderful wife in a cabin overlooking the headwaters of the Churchill River system.
Derek’s 15 plus years as a high school teacher in Saskatchewan have been filled with planning and leading students on a multitude of canoeing, hiking, and backcountry skiing expeditions in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Derek loves to share ideas with fellow teachers and outdoor leaders. These conversations often come around the campfire in the evenings, but can also take the form of professional consulting services on leadership, expedition planning, gear management, and safety protocol.
Derek’s personal canoeing resume includes dozens of routes throughout Saskatchewan. Favorite paddling experiences include tripping on the Clearwater and MacFarlane, racing from La Loche to Cumberland House in the 2010 Canoe Quest, play-boating upstream from Otter, paddling Canadian style in any quiet bay, and experiencing the grandeur of the Churchill system. Derek’s paddling experience also includes tripping the “swift glacier blue” of the North Saskatchewan (in Alberta) and the Hood River (in Nunavut). Derek’s top two favorite portages are the Methye (“I loved the climb out of the Clearwater valley.”) and the Wilberforce canyon on the Hood (“ferrying the wind was great fun”).
Derek’s guiding and instructing background is strongly influenced by his 20 years as a coach in various sports and extensive mountaineering experience. Derek has always enjoyed a “frozen river”. As such, he has invested many seasons climbing classic alpine routes and traversing networks of glaciers in the Canadian Rockies. His mountaineering pursuits include an arctic glacier traverse on Baffin Island and a first ascent attempt in the remote Centennial Range in the Yukon.
Derek is a Paddle Canada Moving Water, Canoe Tripping, and Lake Canoe instructor. He is also certified by Raven Rescue and Rescue 3 International as a Swiftwater Rescue Technician. A keen eye for safety and balancing between fun, relaxation, and challenge are a foundation of his guiding style. Derek is passionate about helping people attain their paddling goals. “Come and join CRCO on the water for an unforgettable summer adventure!”
Geoff has been a part of CRCO for decades. Geoff has been an avid paddler for over 20 years and has taught moving watercourses for the past 16 years. Geoff is certified as a Moving Water Advanced Instructor Trainer and can teach courses for students, instructors, & instructor trainers for both tandem & solo canoeing. Geoff was primarily trained by mentor Kevin Shultz, formerly of CRCO, but also has certifications from Madawaska Paddling School in Ontario.
Geoff's full-time gig is running the The North Face stores in Regina; Winnipeg and Saskatoon which began as The Prairie Summit Shop Inc. He lives with his wife and two girls in Regina, SK.