This article was originally published on April 8th 2017 just after taking out my new canoe.
I have lots of great memories with Dad when I was a kid, taking his old Coleman canoe out for a paddle. We would frequent places like Teeterville Pond, Big Creek, and my favourite, Deer Creek. Save for a few shenanigans in my early 20’s, I’ve had a bit of a falling out with paddling and was long overdue to get back into it. Things like work, buying a house, getting married and having kids, all took priority and pushed paddling by the wayside. For the last two years though, I had been dreaming of owning a canoe of my own to take my kids out in and make our own memories in. That dream became a burning desire this winter and I couldn’t ignore it any longer. After months of patiently waiting and watching all the usual buy & sell websites, I finally found a suitable boat for a good deal, a 16′ Nova Craft Prospector. She was a used rental boat and, except for a few scratches along the bottom, was in great shape.
As soon as the chance arrived, I loaded up and headed to Deer Creek. The conservation area is closed this early in the season, so admission was free. I just had to portage the canoe and my gear the 250 meters from the front gate to the dock. No problem. I hopped in the boat and set off into the cool morning. The water was cold but not as bad as one would think for first week of April. This is the earliest I’ve ever been to Deer Creek and it made for an unusual sight with no green leaves in the trees. Still very beautiful and a hidden gem of Norfolk County.
I paddled my way around the reservoir, exploring the little alcoves that the feeder streams have cut into the landscape, eventually reaching my lunch stop at the old rope swing. I took my time, enjoyed my sandwich, and basked in the early spring sunlight, soaking up its warmth. A little exploring of the area revealed signs of the old campground that had been at the far end of the reservoir years ago. The remnants of an old dock and the faint overgrown lines of paths and forest roads dotted the area.
I headed back towards the conservation area dock and continued to explore everything along the way. The early season and lack of overgrowth made for a new experience and I got to see things I normally never would have.
With my first outing of 2017 behind me, I’m really looking forward to doing lots of paddling this year. I’m even getting my fishing license for the first time this year (I have not fished since I was a kid) so I can spend some time canoeing and fishing with the kids. I’ve also registered for a paddle making workshop where I will carve my very own custom paddle, and hopefully gain enough knowledge to build my wife and kids their very own custom paddles.