The Moose Jaw Canoe and Kayak Club couldn’t have asked for a better day to hold their annual open house in the Wakamow Valley.
Not only was the weather beautiful, but paddlers were able to enjoy near-calm conditions on the Moose Jaw River, perfect for getting into a kayak for the first time and taking in the beautiful scenery of the valley.
People were also more than happy to learn, as a steady stream of visitors to the Wakamow wharf pavilion made for a busy day for Moose Jaw Canoe and Kayak Club instructor Mark Gilliland and club members.
“It’s been busy, we’ve been stable for 10 hours, signing up a lot of new members and a few old members and doing some orientation,” Gilliland said shortly after chatting with a newcomer on Saturday afternoon. “We have a great day for it, so it’s been busy and it was great to be outside.”
Things got better, then some as the weather warmed up, a welcome comeback considering the slower summers of the past two years.
“The last two years with COVID have been kind of compromised, people have been hesitant to join clubs and things like that, and I don’t blame them,” Gilliland said. “But this year things are more or less back to normal and here we go.”
The club offers a host of options for those looking to get into the sport. They have a wide selection of sport kayaks and two-person K2 kayaks in addition to canoes for members to use on their trips.
The instructors will teach you everything you need to know to move safely through the water, which has become a priority for the club in recent years.
“It’s more of a grassroots, family-oriented, learn-to-paddle program and it’s very much appreciated by the Moose Jaw community, and it’s going pretty well,” Gilliland said. “We can teach them what to do and then they can use the skills they’ve learned here anywhere. They can rent a kayak elsewhere and have confidence that they can be safe and have fun wherever they are.
The club regularly go on group paddles in the valley, and the scenery on their trips is worth it.
“It’s an appreciation for the history of Wakamow and the ecosystem that exists here, it’s kind of cool,” Gilliland said. “There are so many wildlife to see, like turtles right now. Painted turtles are doing very well, then here are a lot of beavers, minks, muskrats, snakes, foxes and deer. And even at night, we sometimes go hunting raccoons with flashlights and sometimes we see whole families of them fishing along the shore… so it’s really interesting, and you never know what you’ll see when you is on the river.”
People who are really getting into the sport and want to try longer trips will also benefit from all kinds of support – members of the Moose Jaw Canoe and Kayak Club have been on numerous paddling trips in the northern part of the province and in Alberta , including trips in a huge 26-foot voyageur canoe.
“Then there are also Whitewater Tours, Upper Red Deer and Kananaskis, places that are world-class playgrounds for whitewater and tripping,” Gilliland said. “So there are quite a few things you can do if you’re really into it.”
The club is continually on the lookout for new members, so if you’re interested in joining or checking things out, be sure to visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MJCKC, drop a message, and they’ll be sure. to come back to you.