Raisin River Canoe Race celebrates 45 years

Alycia Douglass

Published on April 9, 2017

Despite treacherous conditions, the 45th annual Raisin River Canoe Race went off without a hitch.

With temperatures climbing to 18 C in the afternoon, paddlers welcomed the warm weather with a day of fun on the river.

Josh Forrester and his father were among one of the teams participating in this year’s race. He says that the Canoe Race is deeply ingrained in the Forrester Clan, who have taken part 25 years in a row.

“When you’re a family of seven kids, there's always someone willing to do it,” said Forrester. “We all love sports and outdoors so it's something we can't miss each year.”

Beginning in 1973, the 30km course runs from St. Andrews all the way down to Williamstown. Always held during the spring freshet when water levels are high, Mother Nature gave paddlers a little extra push this year, forcing organizers to cut the Devils Chute due to safety.

Instead, the start was moved to Delaney Road, making for a shorter, but ultimately safer race.

“This is the fastest finishing times I've ever seen,” said Forrester. “It’s because there was such a heavy flow.”

Matthew Levac has taken part in the event four consecutive years, and says that this year’s race presented some new challenges.

“Because of the increase flow, we capsized at McIntyre rapids,” said Levac. “We chased the canoe down river until we finally caught up. Unfortunately we never finished the race.”

“The Mcintyre rapids appeared as a wall of standing water and at the time of approached we were unprepared and a little to tired,” said Levac.

Levac says he really appreciated the help from the community and volunteer crew.