2019 Churchill River Whitewater Festival
The 11th Annual Whitewater Festival was our second-best-attended whitewater festival ever this year. A few years ago we burst at the seams with 140+ and decided to limit the numbers due to environmental concerns. There’s only so many keen paddlers that Barker Island, with its limited camping and toilet facilities, can handle.
As usual we scattered on Saturday to different clinics led by CRCO and volunteer leaders. Sunday was spent doing longer circuits up towards Corner Rapids as well as down Murray Channel and Three Sisters.
There were many people who helped make the festival happen, as usual, but an especially big thanks to the festival committee, which was headed up by Shay Crawford and consisted of Rik Annika, Sara Driediger, Ric Driediger, Jimmy MacDonald, Tom Wolfe and Ron Lepage.
There were many highlights of the festival both planned and unplanned, but the unanimous favourite seems to be the Canoe Yoga Competition on Saturday night. This was a spontaneous event, a result of a perfectly calm lake, a beautiful sunset, a crazy idea that Shay had, and at least a dozen equally crazy contestants. The two winners were awarded our two biggest prizes, a canoe barrel and harness donated by CRCO and a skateboard donated by Escape Sports. Other highlights:
- Our solar-powered concert (courtesy of Jay) featuring Sparky and the Plugs with their energetic mix of folk and bluegrass tunes
- Total Carnage below Surf City (as usual)
- Best ever clinics and guided tours including a record-breaking 15 canoes down Murray Channel and Rik's solo kayak descent of the left side of Sluice
- Multiple sightings of Mama Bear with her three little cubs
- Our most beginner-friendly festival yet with over 60 first timers
- A delicious smoked brisket meal catered by John
Yesterday I stumbled on a newsletter written by Ric Driediger in 2003 celebrating the upcoming installation of composting toilets around Barker Lake by Saskatchewan Environment Resource Management (SERM). Well, here we are in 2019 and we’re still hoping and waiting. But it looks like things are finally coming together. Yes, these things take time apparently. Saskatchewan Parks and Saskatchewan Trails are joining forces with a plan, but of course funds are limited. So we’re going to help out by raising the funds necessary to purchase the toilets. They aren’t cheap, around $8000 each and we need at least 5. Please visit our GoFundMe page and contribute to the cause!
Ric is often asked what his favourite river is. Read this interview with Ric Driediger for a few big hints.
Do you have some GREAT photos? We've got a contest for you. Spoiler: post it with #churchillriver #churchillcanoe #churchillwhitewaterfestival to win!
Great guided trips this summer at CRCO
Paull River – August 13-20, 2019. A classic trip for everyone: Beginner paddlers who don’t mind the occasional portage will love this trip, but so will experienced whitewater paddlers who want the thrill of the exiting whitewater options on the Paull and Churchill Rivers culminating in the whitewater playground of Barker Lake. Read more…
Hawkrock to Fond du Lac River – August 19-26, 2019. The Hawkrock is a blast, a low volume river that winds and twists its way through classic Athabasca sandstone canyons. The trip ends on the mighty Fond du Lac river, the Queen River of the North, on the shores of majestic Black Lake. This is a great trip for anyone keen on enjoying the many whitewater rapids that these far northern rivers have to offer. Read more…
Boreal Primer – August 19-27, 2019. An ultra-classic paddling trip on the Churchill River from Black Bear Island or Sandfly Lake to Missinipe. The Churchill is the ultimate Boreal shield-country paddling trip. It has everything: beautiful campsites, good portages, lovely boreal forest, superb runnable rapids, and the impossibly green waters of the Churchill river. Read more…