Bill McDonald has rendered three dolphins in this year’s “Back and Forth Paddle.”

The Back and Forth Paddle has become a tradition in annual Campbell River paddling event

  • Aug. 8, 2018 11:30 a.m.

Over the past 12 years a paddle has been exchanged between Campbell River and Cape Mudge Village as part of the annual Discovery Passage Passage.

It has become the “back and forth paddle” or the go and come paddle as it moves once each year between the carvers and artists of Cape Mudge and Campbell River.

The Discovery Passage Passage is a fun event that celebrates the traditional water-based link between Campbell River and Cape Mudge and this year’s event will be held Aug. 18. Hundreds of human-powered boats – canoes, kayaks, rowboats and recently, standup paddle boards – set off from downtown Campbell River for the short trip across Discovery Passage which separates Campbell River from Quadra Island. The event draws paddlers of all abilities from novice to expert and of all ages and is a celebration of paddling as much as anything.

On the Cape Mudge side, everyone gathers at the traditional First Nations canoe sheltered on the beach on the village waterfront. Then after a few words, everyone cheerfully paddles back to the Vancouver Island shore.

RELATED: Discovery Passage Passage makes 11th annual trip to Cape Mudge

When “The Passage” began 12 years ago the back and forth paddle was just an unremarkable piece of cedar, 6 feet tall 2 inches thick and 8 inches wide.

“Teach us to carve,” said Dr.

Patterson, the first person to carry the paddle to the village at the Cape.

And so the People of Cape Mudge responded.

Each year the paddle is shaped or carved by a different person on each side of Discovery Passage. Year by year, a paddle has slowly emerged. The first carvers were more carpenters than carvers or artists. Each one was faced with the problem, where do I start and when to stop? Progress was slow.

In 2017 all that changed when Tom Wilson from Cape Mudge boldly painted a dragon fly on one side of the broad blade. It’s a remarkable piece of art that will dramatically change all future carving and art work. The carpentry is finished: now the art work has begun.

This year retired RCMP officer Bill McDonald has rendered three dolphins on the “back and forth” paddle. The paddle will be exchanged once more on Aug. 18 during the 12th annual Passage of Discovery Passage.

This year’s event will be starting from a slightly different location, instead aof from the boat ways behind 871 Island Highway, the launch will be at Fishermen’s Wharf at 705 Island Highway, just a block or so south or a couple blocks north of the Maritime Heritage Centre. Look for the bright yellow Campbell River Harbour Authority building in the Pier Street area on the Old Island Highway.

The start time is 10 a.m. and participants must register for the free event to participate. You can register online ahead of time at


Taking up the tradition of the “back and forth” paddle for this year’s Passage of Discovery Passage is retired RCMP officer Bill McDonald who has carved three dolphins on this year’s paddle.

Tom Wilson painted a dragon fly on the 2017 Back and Forth Paddle, setting a new standard for art on the paddle.

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