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Canoeist brings Dufferin Reads to life

March 11, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Peter Richardson


Shelburne Library held their event in the One Book One County: Dufferin Reads programme this past Sunday with a fabulous presentation by local potter and canoeist Allan Pace.

This year’s book for One Book One County: Dufferin Reads, which was announced in January at the County Council meeting, is the national bestseller Canoe Country: The Making of Canada by Roy MacGregor.

Roy will be reading from his book and meeting the public at the Grand Finale event on May 13 at the Dufferin County Museum and Archives.

Al Pace, who is a world renowned potter, lives and works in Mono, at his Farmhouse Pottery Studio and Cafe, on Hockey Valley Road, which he operates with his wife, of 35 years, Lin Ward.

The Ontario Government has presented pieces of Al’s artwork to Queen Elizabeth II, and also Pope John Paul II, when they visited our fair province.

However, the couple have another life – as canoeists and adventure travel outfitters in Canada’s far north! Canoe North Adventures was established in 1987 and it was this venture, and his and Lin’s adventures that Al was at the library to talk about.

And what a talk it was!

Al first ventured to the Yukon in 1977 on a class trip with Lakefield College School, in Peterborough, where one of his classmates was Prince Andrew, future Duke of York, then second in line to the throne after his brother Prince Charles.

That trip was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and a lifelong passion, for the far north.

Prior to founding the company, Al and Lin paddled all across the Yukon, North West Territories and Nunavut and it was these experiences that led them to form Canoe North Adventures. Today, their son Taylor has joined the enterprise, as a guide and together with a talented and dedicated staff, they run one of the most respected tour companies in Canada.

Their Keele River Trip is now part of the Canadian Signature Experience Collection, a part of the Canadian Tourism Commission.

CNA, runs tours in both the Yukon and the NWT from their staff-built lodge in Norman Wells, NWT.

The tours traverse all the major rivers in the north, including the Mackenzie, the Coppermine, Keele, Horton and the Snake, to name but a few. On any of these excursions, participants can expect to run whitewater, see amazing scenery and encounter numerous local inhabitants, such as caribou, Dahl sheep, muskox, wolves and grizzly bear. They can hike the vast landscapes as well as spend time with the Inuit, in their communities and the fishing is out of this world!

It was interesting to note that despite the abundance of trophy, trout, arctic char and pike, the Inuit mainly feed fish, to their dogs, preferring to consume the meat from caribou and other large mammals, themselves.

Al has brought his love of the north, back to his pottery, where he uses special glazing techniques to interpret the spirit of the far north, into his art, with remarkable results.

The Library staff went out of their way, to enhance the gathering, with a sumptuous buffet of northern delights. There was various venison dishes, as well as smoked salmon, delightfully presented on spoons, ready to devour! The large crowd was most appreciative of this bounty and few leftovers remained for the kitchen help.

Al’s many stories of his adventures, encounters with wildlife and wonderful group experiences, on the rivers, enthralled the audience and the event was a huge success.

In this the 150th year for Canada and the 105th for the Shelburne Library building, it was a fitting tribute to Canada’s voyageur heritage and her magnificent northern wilderness!



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