Peter Au, chair of the Rideau Paddlefest committee, has announced that the event scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 18 has been cancelled.
Au said all members of the committee were surveyed, and reached the consensus that “we are not comfortable” going ahead with the event due to a number of concerns related to COVID-19.
The annual voyageur canoe race and celebration of the Rideau Canal was cancelled in 2020, but organizers believed that it would be safe to bring the event back this fall. Unfortunately, said Au, it is still not safe to hold the canoe races.
As well, he added, “It’s a family-oriented festival, and kids under 12 are not vaccinated.”
The committee is also concerned because daily COVID infections in Ontario have risen to the rate of over 800 per day.
Hoping for better days ahead, the committee will continue to meet and plan for the next Paddlefest to take place in June of 2022.
On the Saturday following Paddlefest, Sept. 25, the Rideau Round Table is still going ahead with a Shoreline Restoration Demonstration. The shoreline restoration will take place along the shore of the canal close to Old Slys Road. Some 200 shrubs and 30 trees will be planted.
Organizers plan to dedicate three of the trees in honour of Doug Stewart, the retired Director General of Parks Canada; Manuel Stephens, a retired planner who produced the first Rideau Canal Management Plan; and Stew Hamill, Voyageur Canoe Program Coordinator. Under Stewart’s term as director general the Rideau received Heritage River designation as well as World Heritage Site designation. All three honourees formerly served as directors of the Rideau Roundtable.