We went on a canoeing adventure with our friends Ed and Millie, paddling the Assiniboine River from Ed and Millie’s home near the perimeter highway in St. James all the way down to the dock at the end of the block where our home is located in the downtown Exchange District of Winnipeg.
Ed parked his van in our garage around noon and then we drove to Ed and Millie’s where Dave and Ed put our canoes into the water. We decided to paddle the Mennonite way – men in one canoe and women in the other.
The more experienced paddlers the Hildebrands provided the steering in the back of the canoes and we Driedgers sat in front. It was neat to view the city from the river perspective especially all the grand homes along the banks. We saw deer and pelicans and herons and signs of beavers at work. People were so friendly- saying hello, reminding us to drink water, commenting on our paddling strokes, waving and shouting greetings to us from bridges. During the first half of our journey, the river was very shallow and we went aground a couple of times on sandbars that extended on for quite a distance. At one point when Millie and I couldn’t seem to free ourselves from a sandbar, a kindly gentleman who lived along the water donned his hip waders and came out to help us, showing us the channel of deeper water where we could get through. We stopped for lunch at Omands Creek Park. Millie had made delicious cheese and vegetable biscuits and brought along some of her homemade spicy pickles from this year’s batch. Mostly though we just drank and drank- plenty of water and a little beer. I hadn’t brought along a water bottle which was silly and I was actually a mite dizzy when we got out of the canoes at lunchtime. It was 36 degrees but during most of our journey, we had a little bit of a breeze to cool us. For the second half of our paddle, the river was much deeper, but the current was a little harder to navigate and we encountered some larger boats that created waves for our canoes. The distance from Ed and Millie’s house to ours is 15 kilometres as the crow flies so I am thinking we probably paddled at least 20 or more kilometres along our winding river route. Once we reached the dock on Waterfront Drive we loaded up the canoes one by one and returned them and then we went back to Ed and Millie’s. Dave and Ed took a dip in the Assiniboine to refresh themselves. Then we had appetizers and drinks down by the river in Ed and Millie’s lush and lovely back yard. A marvellous meal of barbecued pork, kale salad and fresh garden vegetables followed and it was dark before we headed inside for a piece of Millie’s delicious homemade apple pie and ice-cream and a last glass of wine.
It was easy to fall asleep Saturday night. We’d had lots of exercise and fresh air, lively and interesting conversation, excellent food and a great time with good friends.