In celebration of the bicentennial of David Thompson’s expedition down the Columbia River, the David Thompson Columbia Brigade will be back for another exciting adventure, paddling over 1,800 km through Canada and the United States.
The event honours David Thompson’s journey to the mouth of the Columbia River and meeting the Pacific fur trade company, opening the Columbia River as the last lane of the fur trade highway that was used for almost 50 years.
As of now, 11 teams within the Brigade membership are registered to partake in this event, which is in its third year.
Registration is still open online at www.2011brigade.org. Those hoping to register need to own a voyager canoe and have a membership with the brigade, however.
Teams will be meeting on June 1, with a training session being held on June 2.
On June 3, teams will take to their canoes and paddle from the Village of Canal Flats to the District of Invermere, then set out again for a trip that will take them through 35 participating communities, finishing on July 15.
The June 2 date will have teams leaning how to paddle their canoes, made to look like replicas of the same canoe David Thompson voyaged in during his journey.
Team will also be learning to use their GPS units and two-way radios.
“Think of it as canoe clubs collaborating,” said Ross MacDonald, chair of the David Thompson Columbia Brigade.
“It’s paddling recreation, but also sharing with the communities along the route.
“Non-motorized canoeing is a great recreational activity, and we’ll be saluting the river’s history, along with the communities.”
There will be some canoeing races along the way within the brigade, but only at select community stops.
On June 3, teams will go downstream from Canal Flats and have a ceremonial arrival in Invermere at Kinsmen beach.
“It shakes out the muscles and gets teams used to the paddling together,” said MacDonald.
“The area through Fairmont is narrow and twisty, and it’s perfect for getting them used to the paddling in that sense.”
The team will arrive in Invermere on June 3.
A celebration will be held at Kinsmen Beach with meals, entertainment, aboriginal performers, and the brigadiers giving a formal salute to the community.
The festivities will begin at 2:30 p.m. and end at 5:30 p.m., with the brigadiers arriving and demonstrating around 4:30 p.m.
A limited number of guests will also be allowed to try out paddling in the canoes.
A plank-salmon dinner and dance at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 71 at 6:30 p.m. with additional entertainment top off the evening.
In 2007, the David Thompson Columbia Brigade saw 100 paddlers, and in 2008, 300 paddlers participated, the largest recreational canoeing event recorded in Canada.
“This is one of the major wrap-up activities of the David Thompson bicentennial,” said MacDonald, who has been volunteering with the David Thompson bicentennial events for over 10 years.
David Thompson was a fur trade, explorer, surveyor, map-maker and more 200 years ago.
Thompson reached the Pacific Ocean, adding the Columbia River as the final leg of the fur trade highway between Montreal and the Pacific.
This route became a major means of trade across the Rocky Mountains by the twice-annual Columbia Express, and later adapted by the Hudson’s Bay Company to become the York Factory Express.
During the fur trade era, aboriginal and European people collaborated together, exchanging furs and other goods from the land from far away, where they could be spread across the country using the river route.
The fur trade exploration is often considered one of the greatest shapers of the boundaries of Canada and the United States.
For more information on the brigade, visit www.2011brigade.org.
You can also go to www.davidthompson200.org for more information and activities which will be happening around the David Thompson bicentennial celebrations.