History of the Haliburton Highlands Paddlers
It seemed like such a natural fit. “The Haliburton Highlands” has a lot of lakes and rivers, and there are many residents who love to be active and to have fun…especially on the water!
That is the conclusion we reached when we tossed around the idea on a winter day in 2014. A group of us had been out cross country skiing and were warming up with a bowl of soup at The Kozy. The previous summer we had enjoyed the opportunity to try dragon boating when we participated in a few introductory sessions through Great White North from Pickering. Other than that initial experience, we were a pretty inexperienced lot. What we lacked in knowledge of the sport, however, we more than made up for in enthusiasm. By the time coffee was served we had the beginnings of a plan.
That first spark of enthusiasm grew and spread. We needed a boat, a coach, docking facilities, winter storage, insurance and a team of paddlers. Our first challenge was to determine how we were going to fund this venture. It soon became apparent that we needed a formal structure.
The Haliburton County Community Co-operative (Co-op) is an umbrella organization that runs a number of not-for-profit initiatives in the County. After discussion with the board of the Co-op, we decided to join. They then authorized creation of a new initiative, and the dragon boat club became a Part of the Co-op. One of the members of their board joined us and became the liaison to the Co-op board.
We decided on our name, the “Haliburton Highlands Paddlers”, leaving open the possibility that one day we might be paddling other types of watercraft.
Through the Co-op we joined Dragon Boat Canada, and obtained marine insurance.
The Co-op also provided some start-up funds, and some twenty individuals stepped forward with donations and interest-free loans that together were sufficient to allow us to obtain a boat, a steersperson’s oar and twenty paddles.
Our boat, Susanna Foo, had spent her initial years in Philadelphia. Her original owners had been sponsored by a Chinese food restaurant, hence her name. She had been well used for many years, and then had returned to Toronto, where she had been built. She was looking for a new home. We decided to purchase her, after she was repaired and repainted. She was delivered on July 9, 2014.
On July 9th, 2014 the newly formed Haliburton Highlands Paddlers launched ‘Susanna Foo’!
We were on our way!
In the meantime, we had found a summer home. Patient News agreed to let us dock Susanna Foo at their dock on Grass Lake. Haliburton RPM allowed us to put Susanna Foo into the water at their boat launch, and to store our oar and paddles in one of their buildings. Haliburton Timber Mart provided the hardware for our dock anchoring system. The first winter, Susanna Foo returned to Toronto for storage, in the Fall of 2015 she was taken out of the water (on our new trailer, specially designed by the ‘paddling engineer’ Phil Meades), temporarily stored in Rodco’s yard, where she was washed, and since then, she has spent winters under wraps at RPM.
We were fortunate to find a local coach, Janine Papadopoulos, to get us on the water. Later, our coaching roster would swell to include Scotty Boyd, Lois Deacon and Marg Cox.
Our first festival in Port Perry on June 20, 2015: The team proudly display their bronze medals in the women’s “C” division.
Now, several years later, we can reflect on our accomplishments. We have won medals within our division at several festivals, our numbers continue to grow, and we are recognized as an integral component of the sport and fitness scene in the Haliburton Highlands.
In the Spring of 2017, Minden Curling Club gave us the use of their indoor facility to clean, repair and prep the ‘Foo’ for yet another great summer of Dragon Boating!
….. and we weren’t finished there; with the help of our newest supporter, TechnicalitiesPlus we introduced our new website in 2017!
We would like to say a very big THANKS to the many people in our community, both members and non-members, who have supported and who continue to support, Haliburton Highlands Paddlers.
Come join us…be part of the history of the Haliburton Highlands Paddlers!