The Canoe

“If it is love that binds people to places in this nation of rivers and in this river of nations then one enduring expression of that simple truth, is surely the canoe.”

When you’re on the water the next time, regardless of what part of the world you reside in, regardless of what the weather conditions are, stop for a few minutes and remember why you paddle. If you race, if you cruise, if you marathon paddle, the love of the water is what draws you and what brings you back again and again.

“…when you have the chance to go out and paddle, you feel that this day was lived really well.”

This film captures the human connection and bond created by Canada’s well-known craft & symbol, the canoe. Through the stories of five paddlers across the province of Ontario, Canada – a majestic background both in its landscape & history – the film underscores the strength of the human spirit and how the canoe can be a vessel for creating deep and meaningful connections.

Selected for National Geographic’s Short Film Showcase:

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Filmmaker’s Note:

I started paddling around the age of 7 throughout the waters of Ontario, Canada. Thanks to the canoe, I’ve made some lifelong friends and connections, not to mention memories and stories, that I’ll never forget.

I came to realize that the canoe was more than just a simple vessel and I wanted to show how several other paddlers similar to me created strong intimate connections alongside the canoe. It really gave me great joy to see how rich the mosaic of stories I encountered were. Whether they were young or old, or from various cultural backgrounds, individuals were taking the traditional Canadian craft and seeking new meaning with it. For me, the diverse paddlers I met while filming this project represented a Canada that has grown and evolved since its birth 150 years ago – and something that I was able to stand proud of today.

I’ve continued to paddle my whole life and plan to do so for a very long time. Seeing and hearing these stories made me appreciate and realize how important the canoe is to my life. To all the paddlers out there (and to those who want to start), this film is for you. Keep on paddling.

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Narration Written & Spoken by: James Raffan

The Connector: Michelle Savoie
The Champion: Alexandra M. McGee
The Explorers: Gary & Joanie McGuffin
The Settler: Michael Zhang
The Mentor: Gail Bannon

Director / Cinematographer / Editor: Goh Iromoto
Camera Assistant / Sound Recordist / Editor: Courtney Boyd
Logistical Coordinator: Steve Bruno

Colourist: Jason Zukowski • Redlab
Motion Designer: Jay Smith • Upstate
Re-recording Mixer & Sound Editor: Joe Barrucco & Kristopher Laflamme • Timeline Audio
Assistant Editor: Nike Anderson Valeus

“To The Sky” by Andrew Seistrup (Marmoset)
“Ascend” by Riley, 1964 (Musicbed)
“Wistful” by A. Taylor (Musicbed)
“With the Wind” by Matthew D. Morgan (Musicbed)
“Leaving Earth” by Jordan Critz (Musicbed)
“Birth” by Matthew D. Morgan (Musicbed)
“Telos” by Chris Coleman (Musicbed)

Special Thanks:
Canadian Canoe Museum
Fort William First Nation Community
Rapid Media

This film was produced in partnership with:
Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation
Tourism Northern Ontario
Ontario Parks
Northwest Ontario Tourism
Thunder Bay Tourism
Peterborough & Kawarthas Tourism

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For paddling adventures in Ontario, check out: