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Fundraiser on Saanich Peninsula makes a splash for Easter Seals Camp

Paddlers raise more than $11,000 toward $15,000 goal, campaign windup is May 15

A campaign to raise funds and awareness for a charity helping children and adults with physical or mental disabilities reached more than two-thirds of its goal in short amount of time, with more than a month to go.

Liz Martinson, communications manager with the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club, said Tuesday afternoon the Paddle For The Kids event had raised $11,410 for Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan. That leaves the campaign just $3,590 away from its goal of raising $15,000 by May 15.

Martinson called the April 3 event “a success, despite the rain.”

“Our members will continue to paddle and raise funds until we host our event-closing party in tandem with our annual club showcase on the Gorge waterway on May 15,” she said. “During this event we will be offering Big Canoe rides to the public for donation, all going to Easter Seals, of course.”

While fundraising had officially started in the second week of March, donations picked up speed on Sunday. “On April 2nd, we might had $2,000 or $3,000 and then ‘boom,’ suddenly, overnight the total went right up.”

Club members paddled by more than 60 kilometres along the western shore of the Saanich Peninsula to raise money. Split up into two teams, the 28 paddlers worked shifts, paddling eight to 10 nautical miles around Brentwood Bay, Tod Inlet, McKenzie Bight, Henderson Point, and Senanus Island.

Organizers of this year’s event – the 41st edition – were forced by weather conditions to re-jig the route into a more sheltered location. Previous editions saw club members paddle some 75 kilometres from Brentwood Bay around the peninsula to their clubhouse on the Gorge Waterway in a single shot. The program is also still rebuilding after COVID-19, which looms in other ways as well.

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This year’s paddle also has a virtual component that allows participants to track individual outdoor activities such as paddling, walking, running, hiking and cycling. Organizers encourage everyone to attempt to complete 45 km of activity – the equivalent of a one-way paddle to Port Angeles – as a nod to the historical roots of the event.

For the first 27 years, club members paddled (or attempted to paddle) to Port Angeles and back each year, a trip that took between 10 to 12 hours depending on wind and sea conditions. The first year saw a single 25-foot voyageur canoe with two crews of six paddlers attempt the crossing. One crew paddled from the Esquimalt Angler’s ramp at Fleming Beach to Port Angeles, while the other paddled back to Inner Harbour. The trip took 10 hours and raised $2,000.

In 2009, club members paddled up and down the Gorge Waterway after the Canadian Navy was unable to provide an escort ship to shadow the canoes across the strait. While organizers secured private escort boats, the trip had to be cancelled because of rough sea conditions. Organizers eventually settled on the Peninsula route that takes paddlers from Brentwood Bay around the Saanich Peninsula to the Gorge Waterway.

To donate, see Paddle For The Kids (

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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