Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fall SKIP Week 5 - Voyageur Canoes!

Our SKIP kids had a big treat for Week 5 of the session - a tour in a pair of Rideau Roundtable voyageur canoes!
The Friends extended an invitation to members and previous SKIP participants and their families to join us for the excursion on what turned out to be a pretty chilly Halloween day. A group of about a dozen hardy folks set out in the morning for a tour of Hogg Bay, with a peek at the Big Rideau, and the SKIP crew set out during our usual afternoon program time, along with about a dozen family members.

The afternoon session started off with a lesson from Jim about the four basic strokes needed to manouevre the big 18-seat canoes and then we set out, with Jim, Stu and Andrea as our competent guides and pilots.

We made our way from the park's boat launch out to Big Rideau Lake, where we were treated to the sight of a large group of juveniles loons (along with a grebe and a couple of seagulls), biding their time before setting off for warmer southern climes.

Then we headed back into the quiet waters of Hogg Bay, where we observed lots of interesting wildlife and habitat, including ducks, evidence of beavers and a swimming mammal that may have been a beaver or a muskrat.

A bit more paddling and we encountered this nifty thing, which sparked some debate - is it a beaver potty (a scent mound - used to mark territory) or a muskrat pushup? Our money's on the potty since this was built on a rock, preventing underwater access for a muskrat.

We made our way down the length of beautiful Hogg Bay - full steam ahead - until we reached McParlan House and the ruins of the Burgess Mill, a historic site dating back to about 1820 and is the location for our annual Archaeo Apprentice program (archaeology for Grade 5 students).

We paused to learn a bit about how the voyageurs lived, complete with some artifacts that helped to tell the story.

Then it was back to the boat launch, admiring the scenery along the way. And what would a SKIP program be without a weekly fungus sighting!

A big thank you goes out to all our participants and for the donations they made. We're also grateful to Stu, Jim and Andrea for the great program, as well as our Skippers, Jane and Steph, and volunteers Beth, Linda, Heather and Pat and, of course, Tobi.

Next week it's back to the Lally Homestead for our final program of the fall session on autumn ecology.

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