Paddlers will be heading out on a historical route this weekend during the 13th annual Discovery Passage Passage.
The event, which welcomes non-motorized water vessels, will see participants travel across the Discovery Passage from the Campbell River to Cape Mudge on Aug. 24.
It’s a body of water that was well-travelled by small boats in the pre-ferry days.
Geoff Goodship, event founder, said the people who lived in Campbell River would often row over to Quathiaski Cove to visit the post office, load up on groceries and, depending on the day, grab a beer, before heading back home.
“It’s part of a history of this town,” he said. “It’s not new. People did it long before there was a city called Campbell River. It was a matter of necessity.”
The first time the event happened, participants followed the same route, travelling from Campbell River to Quathiaski Cove. But shortly after, the We Wai Kai First Nation invited them to end their paddle at Cape Mudge instead.
“The invitation was warm,” said Goodship. “We’ve been going to the village every year since then.”
Goodship said the annual paddle is an opportunity to greet neighbours.
“We go to meet our neighbours. The people that live there are our neighbours. Every day they look out the window, they see us,” he said. “So once a year we get in small boats and we paddle over to see them.”
It’s not generally recommended to attemp the journey across Discovery Passage in a human-powered craft. The water is cold and Goodship said it’s “an awesome tide.”
But travelling in numbers with other non-motorized boats and with the accompaniment of safety boats, the risk becomes more bearable, he said.
About 10 years ago, a piece of yellow spruce was shared each year between the We Wai Kai First Nation and the visiting paddlers. It was shaped into a paddle and carved, and now it is being painted. A new scene is added each year.
In 2018, the paddle was given to the We Wai Kai First Nation, and this year, should be making a return trip to Campbell River.
“It’s not a big showy affair with heavy speeches and that kind of thing,” said Goodship. “It’s more neighbours saying hello to each other.”