Registration is open for the 36th annual Wilderness & Canoe Symposium, taking place February 17, 2021, from 6 pm to 9 pm via Zoom.

“We remain committed to nurture our passion and love for paddling and to keep our symposium community safe. For this reason, we will be delivering the 2021 event live and online only,” says organizer Aleks Gusev. Traditionally held in a high school auditorium in Toronto, for the first time the WCS is easily accessible to paddlers around the world.

“You will be able to join from the ease, comfort and safety of your pajamas, sitting on your couch, with your various pets. Bonuses include access to the bathroom with no line-ups, your favorite snacks at your disposal, and no restrictions to bringing a glass of wine to the event this year,” Gusev adds. Click here to register. 

The evening will feature five presenters. Continuing with the tradition George Luste started many years ago, there will be a short wilderness music interlude halfway thru the evening. Presenters include:

The Enduring Ice Project

Diana Kushner and Stephen Smith on their kayaking expedition to Nares Strait and forthcoming film, Albedo: in search of a frozen ocean. Their journey to assess climate change in the North had to switch gears when their scientific team became trapped by the sea ice it had come to study. With the Arctic Ocean collapsing all around them, they escaped the chaos by traversing the North’s most remote and formidable passage.

Wally Schaber

In 1969, Wally Schaber was part of a team of guides who tried to reestablish the Ottawa YMCA Boys Camp On-Da-Da Waks at the headwaters of the Dumoine River. Working in conjunction with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Ottawa Valley Chapter, CPAWS-OV, and Friends of Rivière du Moine, this is the story of how the larger Three Rivers Project came to establish the Dumoine, Coulonge and Noire as an interconnected and protected wild river preserve.

Paul Burbidge

In 2017, Paul spent three weeks exploring rivers in the Mackenzie Mountains of NWT. The team started on the Little Nahanni River near the NWT/Yukon border and finished in the town of Tulita on the Mackenzie River. Paul’s group paddled 10 rivers with three significant portages—the longest portage 100km in length. Find out how to plan for remote unrun river trips, as well as gear selection for long whitewater packraft trips.

James Raffan

Loves canoes and canoeing and is a longtime friend of the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough. But it is storytelling that is JR’s real passion, and he’s one of the best. Over the years he has written and edited 24 books on topics ranging from canoes to biography, with the common thread running through them the connections between people and place. He is a frequent public presenter, speaking about risk, adventure, environment, reconciliation, education and the simple joys of self-imposed suffering.

Wilderness Concert by Jerry Vandiver

With over 40 years paddling whitewater and flatwater in the US, Mexico and Canada, and more canoes and kayaks than his wife thinks he should have, Jerry is an established singer/songwriter from Nashville, TN and has had his songs recorded on over 15 million records, two of which are hanging on the walls of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Be ready to laugh, dance and sing in your pyjamas from your own home in this fun virtual WCS presentation.

Breakout Sessions

Five simultaneous breakout sessions, following the Wilderness Concert by Jerry Vandiver, will take place half-way through the evening.

  • Look-at-me-Wilderness-Super-Hero – Hosted by Bob Henderson
  • Paddle or not to paddle in the territories in summer of 2021?Hosted by Iva Kinclova
  • Fitting your Canoe Pack to carry heavy loads lightly – Hosted by Bill Ostrom
  • A sharing session of how we connected with nature during COVID-19 – Hosted by Brian Johnston
  • General Breakout session for any other topics and/or socializing.

The WCS is looking for a dozen or so volunteers familiar with Zoom meetings platform to help facilitate breakout sessions. Virtual pizza included. Use Subject Line “2021 WCS Volunteer” in your email to sign up with Aleks at aleks[email protected] 



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