Cross-continent canoeist Mike Ranta is known for dreaming big, and his 110.5-foot-long paddle is the latest proof of the paddler’s larger-than-life mindset. Affectionately called the Big Dipper, Ranta’s mammoth bent-shaft blade was confirmed in 2021 by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest paddle, ousting from the record books a 60-footer in Golden, British Columbia.
The Big Dipper
Length: 110.5 feet
Width of blade: 17 feet
Weight: 22,000+ pounds
Time to make: 2.5+ years
Constructed with: Eastern white cedar
World Record recognized: in 2021 as world’s largest paddle/oar
7 weird facts about the new biggest paddle in the world
The Big Dipper resides on the shores of Georgian Bay at the Killarney Mountain Lodge in Killarney, Ontario, where it celebrates the rich voyageur history of the area and is also a tribute to veterans, Ranta says.
Known for crossing Canada two-and-a-half times on solo expeditions, Ranta didn’t let a little thing like inexperience with a spokeshave deter him. “I’ve built a few paddles and done a few woodworking projects, but never anything on this scale. I learned a lot about woodworking,” he reports.
Length: 5 feet, 8 inches
Weight: 220 pounds
Time to make: 50 years
Constructed with: Pasta, especially lasagna
World Record made: unofficially in 2016, for the longest single-season solo canoe trip (4,660 miles)
With his canine companion, Spitzii, by his side, Ranta will put the finishing touches on the paddle in summer 2022 and seal a 200-year time capsule into a hollowed out portion of the paddle shaft.
“It’s not just the biggest paddle in the world; it’s going to be the prettiest too,” says Ranta. “I want to add a table in the shade next to it, so those who visit can sit and honor who they’re thinking about.”
This article was first published in the Early Summer 2022 issue of Paddling Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.
Feature photo: Courtesy Mike Ranta