Trip Reports

Canoe the Nonquon Race

Canoe the Nonquon Race June 2nd, 2012

We participated in the 44th Annual Canoe the Nonquon race. This race is a fun family event located in Port Perry, Ontario. It is a fundraiser for the local historical society. I had participated about 30 years ago and my daughter Janet was eager to participate. Nearby, downtown Toronto was experiencing severe flooding. 
We spotted 5 trees that had been blown over by the wind on our way to register for the race! We were crazy to register at all and we were not alone. Spurred on by Janet's enthusiasm we made our $45 contribution to the Scugog Shores museum on Friday evening. We were provided with a map and various race tips. "If you come to a V in the river always go right." This advice would prove to be helpful in the morning. Over fifty canoes would register for the race.
The race covers 26 kilometres. We started about 8 am on Saturday and entered the women's recreational class. A large variety of classes was available. The first 18 kilometres were somewhat sheltered and follow the Nonquon River north and east. The first third of the river was hard to paddle because it was shallow and our paddles would get caught on the vegetation. It had 4 beaver dams. We had to get out of our canoe and lift it over them. Some people in aluminum canoes would just ride down the beaver dams. There were fancy racing canoes and beaten up old boats. Anything that could float seemed to be in use. We passed the first of several checkpoints which would be used to ensure that we completed the full course. The next third of the river was wider and deeper with enjoyable paddling and less vegetation getting tangled on the paddles. The last third of the river was quite open to Lake Scugog and there was significant wind. Sometimes we would paddle hard and only move a small distance. We had stopped at Hank's bakery, known for delicious cinnamon knots, and they were our lunch near the end of the river... they were the high point of the race! Many canoes exited the race at this point. We continued, knowing that if we decided to quit, the wind would blow us back to the river when we stopped paddling.
The last 8 kilometres followed the western shore of Lake Scugog south. We had a head wind on the lake of about 35 km/hr. Sometimes we made good progress. Other times, if one of us stopped paddling, we would go backwards. This was going to take a while! We used our whitewater skills to do wind ferries right and left on the lake to avoid large patches of vegetation. Rescue boats were on the lake taking various canoes off of the water that could not finish the race. They consisted of fire fighters and other volunteers helping to keep everyone safe. They checked on us several times as we proceeded south on the lake. We spent over 3 hours paddling the length of the lake. We passed through the buoys which represented the finish line after more than 6 hours of paddling. Unlike true racers, our goal had been to finish the race. We were happy! An awards ceremony saw medals given to the top three times in each class. Only two women's canoes finished so we were given medals. A shuttle service was provided to retrieve our van from the starting point so we could collect our canoe and head home. Despite the adverse weather we had an enjoyable experience and would recommend it to any hardy YCCC folks who don't mind getting out of the canoe for a few beaver dams.
Karen (& Janet) Hurd