The Gull River’s Strong Undercurrents

As paddlers we are proud of our stories—epic highwater runs, bold moves, long swims… Many of our best stories persist and are retold until they are legends.

Other paddling stories are just the opposite: they are so mundane they do not warrant repeating—at least not at the time—and so the stories and people seem to be forgotten.

Looking closely, however, one can see that the story is not forgotten, but in fact is so deeply ingrained in the fabric of a paddling scene that it goes almost unnoticed. These aren’t climactic legends, but fundamental building blocks, people and places like Roger Parsons, Heinz Poenn and the Minden Wildwater Preserve.

A young mountain climber named Heinz Poenn arrived in Canada from Germany in 1956 in search of adventure. After finding no mountains to climb in Ontario, he happened upon a Klepper folding kayak, taught himself to paddle, and found another paddling pioneer named Roger Parsons. The two of them organized a kayak race.

Read: The Gull River’s Strong Undercurrents