CHEK Upside: Victoria seniors find new sense of purpose on the water

CHEK Upside: Victoria seniors find new sense of purpose on the water
WatchA dedicated group of paddlers from Victoria and beyond are aiming to virtually conquer Canada, one stroke at a time.


Wendy Isdahl is getting used to her new ride.

“They’ve given us wings on the water,” said Isdahl, a member of the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club.

Prior to the pandemic, the retired nurse was part of a senior dragon boat team. COVID-19 restrictions, however, put that form of paddling on hold. So a few a months back, Isdahl and her team, made up mostly of seniors aged 60-70, decided to try their hand at the challenging solo outrigger canoe.

“I never thought I’d be able to get on one of those,” said Isdahl. “It’s just been fantastic.”

Isdahl and her paddling group of six track their kilometres during every session, as they are participating in a challenge to virtually paddle across Canada.

“Well I’m over one hundred and thirty,” said Isdahl. The ‘Paddle Across Canada’ challenge was launched by the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club on January 24th, and has since attracted other paddling clubs from across Canada to join.

“This allows them to get out, get exercise, have fun and also socialize to a certain point,” said Tristan Hayton, paddling coach with the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club.

“It’s routine, which I think is really important during COVID,” said Wendy Young, a member of the group. “It’s out of nature, it’s with people so physical activity is so important and sense of community is very important.”

During today’s session, the community was in plain sight as their teammates cheered them on from atop the Selkirk trestle. With just over two thousand kilometres to go in their coast to coast challenge, the team expects to reach Fogo Island, Newfoundland by the end of March.

“It’s been my savior, for sure,” said Isdahl.

For anyone interested in joining the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club, click here.

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Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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