Canoe
Credit: Kevin Callan

I love the Canadian flag—but I don’t agree with the maple leaf. It should be a canoe.

The U.S. grew as a country by way of the chuckwagon, horse and 10-gallon hat. Canada used the birchbark canoe.

The canoe remains the icon of Canada. It once was the main tool of transport for trade and business. It’s now a symbol of freedom. From Voyageurs to youth camps to Subaru commercials, the canoe went from a vessel to help explore the Canadian waterways to something to help explore ourselves.

Author Roy MacGregor stated in his latest book, Canoe Country: The Making of Canada, “If the canoe is not on the Canadian flag, it is most certainly to be found in the Canadian imagination.”

I couldn’t agree more. And so does Ontario Tourism. Last week they gathered a number of government and private organizations together at the Canadian Canoe Museum. Everyone in the Canadian canoe world was there. I even paddled out of Algonquin Park—halfway through a canoe trip with students—to make sure I attended. Why? The provincial government has chosen to promote the canoe, and it’s symbolism towards Canadian culture, in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

There was some slight opposition, especially from groups of kayakers and SUPs. Those individuals believed it was water and wilderness that molded our culture—not the canoe. They have a point. However, many follow what author Pierre Berton once wrote: “a true Canadian is one who makes love in a canoe.”

I can’t imagine making love in a kayak or SUP. I’m sure it’s possible. It’s just not as Canadian.

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