Moosonee Paddle Project

Well, this is a follow-up to my previous post on The Paddle Project Workshop. The first thing I had to buy in preparation for the journey was a pair of rubber boots. Springtime is a muddy affair in a town with no paved roads. The photo above was taken on the Polar Bear Express Train on the way up north. The carpet was quite fascinating, as was the ashtray built into the armrest on my seat.

Apart from everyone’s enthusiasm for the project itself, there was a lot going on in Moosonee while I was there. Most notable were the helicopters flying back and forth overhead carrying nets full of goods, the cancellation of heli-transportation for students living on Moose Factory Island due to freezing rain, the breakup of the Moose River, ice jams, the authorities declaring a state of emergency due to flooding, the evacuation of vulnerable persons by air, and oh yeah… I learned how to make sushi rolls of all things!

Yes, it was a pretty memorable week to say the least!!! I documented everything, and posted photos daily on my Facebook page. I was quite impressed with all the unique paddle designs, but unfortunately none of the paddles were completed due to the inclement weather and evacuation notices. All in all, I met some pretty awesome people, and it was a pretty fantastic trip. There is talk of doing it again next year.

View The Paddle Project Goes to Moosonee photo album here.


Addendum:  In the end, the river took out some shoreline, numerous trees, some park area structures, and several boat houses. Evacuees were allowed back home within a few days. Mother Nature sure can be frightening!

Watch my short video of the Moose River breakup here.

Special thanks to Teal Paddles for their high quality paddles and prompt service.

Paddle Project Workshop

The Paddle Project Goes to Moosonee – April 30th, 2013

04 - Paddle Side 1Hello there!

I’m so excited about my upcoming trip to Moononee, Ontario — the Gateway to the Arctic, as it’s sometimes referred to. The town is located on the Moose River, about 19 kilometres south of James Bay, and is Ontario’s only saltwater port. Access to this remote community is by air or rail. Travellers board the ONR’s Polar Bear Express train in Cochrane and sit back for a scenic five and a half hour ride.

So how did this trip come about? Well, an old University of Guelph friend and classmate, Curry Gray, has been living and teaching in Moosonee since 2008. We had lost touch for a while, but thanks to Facebook we were able to reconnect. In addition to being a full-time educator, Curry is a talented artist and musician. He is currently working on his 3rd solo album, tentatively entitled Roads to Penang, and his band, The Three Henrys, was invited to be featured on the George Stroumboulopoulis Tonight show in Toronto.

Curry runs both the visual arts and music departments at his high school, and he recently asked if I would be willing to give a workshop specially designed for his senior arts students. Soooo…I’ve decided to take THE PADDLE PROJECT to Moosonee. We’re super excited, the paddles have been ordered, and everyone is really looking forward to getting started. Click here to see examples of dozens of creatively painted canoe paddles that were part of an auction fundraiser at the WKP Kennedy Gallery in 2009. Once they’ve been varnished, the finished paddles can be put to practical uses, or simply hang as a beautiful piece of art somewhere.

I would like to thank Curry Gray and Angela Tozer for making this workshop possible.

(Above:  Photo of my paddle nearing completion for the WKP Kennedy Gallery Auction Fundraiser in 2009.)

Cause and Effect


It’s funny how life has a way of tossing unexpected opportunities at our feet. Lately, I’ve noticed that the biggies are directly linked to cause and effect circumstances. For example, participating in the international exhibition in Chianciano, Italy, in 2010 directly lead to my curating the recent Canadian debut of Pulitzer Prize winner Lonnie Schlein’s exhibition, “Editing the World,” at the WKP Kennedy Gallery. This in turn lead to Mr. Schlein asking me to continue working with him, which is a real honour for me.

In the past ten years, I’ve also managed to make a little splash in cyberspace by either creating and/or maintaining a number of websites. In March, I was asked by Brenda Dyack, founder and owner of ART MINE and design in Australia, to help redesign her website and launch a new promotional campaign, which we are currently working on. This in turn lead to an invitation to Canberra in 2013, as well as looking into several Artist Residency programs in the area. Australia? That’s what I mean by cause and effect.

When opportunity knocks, open the door!  You can be sure that something good is likely to happen, and that that something is likely to lead to something even better. The secret to a full and rewarding life is to generate positive energy, and to be open to what the universe has to give back.

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