1967 canoe adventure commemorated in Guysborough

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – Fifty years ago, three young men from Guysborough applied to be part of the Nova Scotia team making a great canoe journey to celebrate Canada’s centennial. Gerry Jamieson, Shawn Hadley and Richard Gerrior traveled over 104 days from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta to Montreal as part of Expo 67 celebrations. The historic Centennial Voyageur Canoe Pageant honoured the explorers and traders that traversed the country in its early days.

With teams from eight provinces and two territories competing, the journey is still the longest-recorded canoe race, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

On Saturday, July 22, a canoe pageant on the Guysborough Harbour commemorated their great adventure -- and the community pride that supported them. A parade of canoes made their way from the marina, around an island in the harbour and back again.

Emcee Paul Long, representing the Guysborough Waterfront Development Assoc., shared highlights of the original journey with the approximately 300 people gathered for the event.

The young men’s canoe trip started on May 24, 1967, with teams paddling up to 10 hours a day. They had more than 60 miles of portaging and 3343 miles of paddling lakes and rivers, including Lake Superior.

“There were individual sprints, parade events such as ours here today, and of course the long haul race everyday,” said Long.

While other teams received provincial funding, Nova Scotia’s team did not, so each participant’s community supported the team.

“So today, 50 years later, as we celebrate Canada 150, the community of Guysborough has come together to recognize three athletes from our area who saw parts of Canada in a way most of us could only imagine in a movie,” said Long.

A commemorative plaque unveiled Saturday will be on display on the Guysborough waterfront “for everyone to see and remember for years to come,” said Long.

“Gerry, Shawn, Richie, on behalf of the community of Guysborough, the Guysborough Amateur Athletic Association, the Canada 150 committee, and the Municipality of the District of Guysborough we are very honoured to be able to recognize you gentlemen here today, with not only a plaque, but the well wishes of an entire community. Your adventure of 50 years ago will live on in the folklore of our community...thank you for sharing your adventure with us all here today.”

Following Saturday’s canoe pageant, Jamieson, Hadley and Gerrior shared stories and answered questions about their centennial experience.