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May 11th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 19
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Canoeing for a worthy cause
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
Paddler Mike Ranta, 44, accompanied by his dog Spitzii
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
A gregarious modern day voyageur made his way through the Pass last week.

Wearing a birch bark hat and accompanied by his dog Spitzii, trans-Canadian paddler Mike Ranta hauled his canoe along Highway 3 before putting in at Crowsnest Lake on May 6.

The 44-year old is canoeing his way across the country to honour the nation's veterans and to raise funds for his hometown’s youth centre.

“Next time you see a veteran, shake their hand, say thank you,” said Ranta as he rested on the shores of the lake. “They didn’t serve for the money, they served for our country.”

Hailing from Atikokan, Ontario, which bills itself as the “Canoeing Capital of Canada,” Ranta’s kevlar canoe is covered with the signatures of over a hundred veterans. More are collected from the servicemen and women in Royal Canadian Legions that he visits along the way.
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In 2014, he crossed the North American continent solo, by canoe, in seven months. Canoe and Kayak magazine recognized the accomplishment as the longest solo canoe expedition in a single season in history.

“It was quite the haul,” he said.

This time he wants to break his own record by reaching Dominion Beach in Cape Breton in six months.

Ranta left on the cross-country journey on April 1 from Richmond B.C. He battled strong currents on the Fraser River and faced an uphill battle after leaving Hope B.C. about two weeks ago.

A group of cadets gathered by the highway to greet him as he passed through Sparwood, B.C.

“They were clapping for me as I walked by,” said Ranta. “All these kids clapping in uniform and I was taken aback by it. That’s what I live for, that’s what we have in Canada.”
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And now, with the continental divide behind him, it’ll be a mostly downhill paddle through the river systems that will take him all the way to Winnipeg and beyond.

For the next leg of his journey, Ranta said he’d shoot down the Crowsnest River, portaging the Lundbreck Falls and paddling to Lethbridge.

Ranta said he’d be paddling through Ottawa to lay a specially crafted wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He’d also like to drop by Hamilton and take Spitzii for a walk in at the Cpl. Nathan Cirillo Leash Free Area, a dog park named after the fallen reservist.
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May 11th ~ Vol. 85 No. 19
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