A one-man force attempts to accomplish something special and pay homage to Indigenous explorers by traversing the land by traditional means.
Bert terHart, 63, is making history by paddling and portaging across Canada by canoe, via the same rivers that explorers, mapmakers and First Nations peoples of the past have traveled for millennia.
terHart began its journey on April 1 in Stevenson, BC. On April 26, he arrived in Revelstoke with his canoe, where he hunkered down for the night before continuing his long cross-country journey. The next morning he pushed his canoe to the Five Mile boat launch and paddled north to Revelstoke Lake.
terHart’s final destination is Big Shippagan Light, New Brunswick, which he hopes to reach by November 15, 2022.
The canoe in which he travels around the country is called “Kai Nani”, chosen by his wife – a Polynesian term that translates to a synergy or harmony between wind and water.
“For centuries, if not millennia, sections of this road were well known and well traveled by First Nations peoples who thrived in this immense landscape,” terHart said in a post on its website.
“These same peoples guided all of Canada’s early explorers and mapmakers through mountains, along rivers and across seemingly endless prairies.
“I seek to better understand the relationship that early Canadians had with the rivers, lakes and forests in which they lived and worked.
terHart is an experienced solo sailor and adventurer. In 2020, he became the first North or South American to circumnavigate the globe solo, nonstop, using only traditional navigational tools. He traveled at sea for 265 days and covered approximately 28,860 nautical miles. Only eight other people have been recorded making such a trip.
terHart hopes his trip across the country will inspire Canadians young and old to embark on their own adventures.
It tries to raise awareness of the role that indigenous peoples played in the creation of this country by following traditional routes through the country without electronic navigation.
“In your life, you will hear ‘can’t’ far more often than ‘can’. It’s too hard. It’s too far. You’re too old. The only yes you need is the one you say to yourself. “Give yourself permission to say yes. If you can do this, you can do anything,” terHart said in a press release.
You can follow terHart’s journey through an up-to-date interactive map and photos at www.kainani.ca.
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