Humans have been building and using small watercraft to travel in British Columbia since time immemorial. Coastal First Nations fashioned canoes from western red cedar and plied the waters of the Salish Sea. Other indigenous peoples used birch bark and willow trees in the crafting of their boats that they then used to travel inland waterways. Today, a new initiative seeks to share the rich history of paddling in the province as well as inspire and inform residents and visitors alike about the modern-day adventures that can be had here.
Paddle BC is a collaboration between paddling associations and cross-sector organizations, such as Fishing BC, in the province of British Columbia and it has two main goals. The first is to promote British Columbia as a world-class paddling destination that offers some of the most varied and fun waterways on the planet. With over 25,000 kilometres of ocean coastline to explore, innumerable rivers and tributaries, and more than 20,000 lakes of all sizes in an area larger than France and Germany combined, British Columbia is the perfect paddling destination.
The second goal of Paddle BC is to endorse the safety of the sport with the help of local experts by guiding paddlers towards the people, businesses, associations, clubs, events, accommodations, services, and agencies that will ensure a paddling experience in the province is memorable and safe. Also offered are trip ideas, recommended waterways, and articles to help reinforce BC as a paddler’s paradise.
Paddle BC is the brainchild of Andrea Ryman who is the marketing director of Destination Castlegar, the co-owner of Endless Adventure rafting and kayaking company, and a stand up paddleboard instructor. Destination British Columbia is a proud supporter of the initiative as it incorporates the expertise of multiple people and partners including the BC River Outfitters Association, Tourism Kamloops, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Tourism Fernie, Fishing BC, Tourism Squamish, Indigenous Tourism BC, and Tourism Golden.
“I love to paddle everything, from lakes and rivers to the ocean, and when I travel my paddleboard always goes with me,” says Ryman “Having worked in tourism for the last 15 years, I noticed that fishing and biking have led the charge in BC for adventure tourism. With the wealth of waterways running though the province, creating Paddle BC seemed like the next step to highlight British Columbia’s adventure playground.”
Visitors to the Paddle BC website (paddlebc.ca) can search for information by three main categories: region, waterway, and experience. The latter is broken down into five subcategories that include paddleboarding, kayaking, rafting, canoeing, and kayak fishing. The waterways listed include lakes, rivers and the Pacific Ocean, and the six regions of the province are the Kootenay Rockies, Thompson Okanagan, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Northern BC, Vancouver Island, and the Vancouver, Coast and Mountains region.
Spectacular canoeing awaits on Island Lake near Fernie. | Feature photo: Courtesy Paddle BC