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One of the best ways to truly experience the wonder and beauty of Ontario’s Lake Country is to get out on the water – a credo Mike Bartlett lives by. The paddling guru from Swift Canoe and Kayak of Waubaushene spends as much time on the water as he can. The only thing he enjoys more than being on the water himself is ensuring others can revel in the experience.
“We get a lot of people who come to Ontario’s Lake Country from Toronto who rent equipment, who are looking to get out on the water, but don’t really know much about our waterways,” said Bartlett. “They often have questions about parking, local outfitters, local sights to see …”
With that in mind, Ontario’s Lake Country, with support from Regional Tourism Organization 7 and Tourism Simcoe County, worked with Bartlett to create an informative Paddling Guide and interactive web component at www.PaddleLakeCountry.com– you can access the paddling routes on your smart phone – aimed at people interested in kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle-boarding. They are geared for all levels of experience from beginner to intermediate.
“We are very excited about the outcome of this paddling project,” said Jennifer Whitley, Executive Director of Ontario’s Lake Country. “With the abundance of waterways in Ontario’s Lake Country this was a perfect fit for the entire region.”
The informative, easy-to-use, 32-page Paddling Guide is a must-have resource for paddlers. While the guide has safety tips, information about local outfitters, special events and fishing, it also lays out 10 paddling routes ranging from 5 to 15-kilometres in length.
“The guide is a fantastic idea,” said Dan Courville, who operates Kayak-ity-yak on Atherley Road and has a rental kiosk at Orillia’s Tudhope Park throughout the summer. “Having maps of routes with information that answers all their questions is much more convenient. A lot of people come up for a day-trip and they’re looking for something to do … this is perfect for them.”
Each route in the guide includes an easy-to-follow map, launch details, a description of the area, points of interest, information about local outfitters, route distance, degree of difficulty and other pertinent information. “I kayaked, canoed or used my stand-up paddleboard for each of the routes,” said Bartlett. “There really is something for everyone – from a family looking to enjoy a fairly easy paddle and a picnic to the person who wants a bit of a challenge.”
Scott Thomas, superintendant of Bass Lake Provincial Park, said campers and park visitors will be thankful for the colourful, educational guide.
“Bass Lake Provincial Park is happy to participate and support the Lake Country Paddling Guide as it will serve as a great resource for our park visitors to explore local waterways as well as inform tourists and local residents of the fantastic paddling they can experience at Bass Lake as well as Mara and McRae provincial parks in Ramara,” said Thomas. “Paddling and water-based recreation is a traditional activity in provincial parks that can be appreciated in solitude or with friends and family and is suitable for all ages.”
Those who have seen the guide love it, said Whitley. “Based on feedback we have received at travel consumer shows, we know there are people looking for this type of product and information. We will continue working with our outfitters and accommodations in the region to gather information from visitors so we can further target this market in the future to grow visitation to the region and become a greater low-impact water activity destination.”
Bartlett agrees and envisions adding more routes in the future. He said the overall goal is to help people enjoy Ontario’s Lake Country. “The canoe is the most owned water vessel in Ontario and the least used,” says Bartlett. “We want to change that.”
For more information about Ontario’s Lake Country or to obtain copies of the Paddling Guide, call 705-325-9321, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.PaddleLakeCountry.com www.OntariosLakeCountry.com