Voyageur canoes used in Canada’s centennial celebrations destroyed by fire in Nanaimo


The Nanaimo Canoe and Kayak Club mourns the loss of two vintage voyageur canoes in an early morning fire.

Firefighters responded to Loudon Park on the south side of Long Lake on Thursday, Nov. 24, to find a temporary shelter and two fiberglass canoes on fire. The two canoes, which date from the 1960s, and the shelter were completely destroyed.

Ashley Rowe, commodore of the Nanaimo Canoe and Kayak Club, said she discovered the fire around 6 a.m. when the coach of one of the rowing teams called her.

“She reported that the fire services had just left the park and she was able to speak with a few firefighters before they left… I spoke to her on the phone, she mentioned that there were no more canoes. It was just confusing to me. I asked, ‘How come there are no canoes? They can’t burn that fast, can they? »

Rowe arrived to find the blackened remains of the craft and the tires they were stored on to keep them off the ground.

She said volunteers Sean Plecas, Danuch Patrick and Paul Steele of PMG Heritage Yachts spent months restoring the canoes, which were around 55 years old. The canoes were previously owned by the White Ravens Canoe Club and were used in centennial celebrations which involved paddling the route travellers. A third canoe of the same vintage, stored under tarpaulins outside the shelter, was spared serious damage. Rowe estimated the canoes that burned were worth about $15,000 and the shelter about $1,000.

“It’s very discouraging because these boats haven’t been used for many years and this summer has been the summer we’ve been able to get them back in the water and get people out in the boats and that’s a boat accessible and made for all ages and abilities,” she said.

The canoes, approximately eight meters long, could hold up to 10 people each and were used for the club’s summer programs, school outings, community partnerships, such as the Mid-Island Metis Nation, and have also been used to help build club membership. .

“Painting, sanding, fiberglass – I learned a lot,” said Patrick. “It was a good experience because it kind of gives you an idea of ​​how these boats are built. [to] restore them.

const. Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Gary O’Brien said police found evidence of a possible homeless encampment under the canoe shelter.

“[This] did not appear to be intentional arson as the tarp and objects around suggested it was being used as a camp,” he said. “Looks like they had a fire down there.”

O’Brien said there was no security video and no known witnesses or suspects.

To learn more about the canoe restoration project, visit

Anyone with information about this fire is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP Detachment non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file #2022-41249.

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