The Gibsons Paddle Club came into existence as a result of a canoe journey that took place two years before the Club was formed; an epic journey that would prove to be instrumental to its inception.
In 1997, a Staff Sargent with the RCMP by the name of Ed Hill was introduced to the world of big canoes. While posted in Hope, BC, Ed participated in the historical canoe journey known as VisionQuest. That journey was travelled in composite canoes (designed in the West Coast First Nations style and made at Clipper Canoe in Abbotsford, BC) and extended from Hazelton, BC on the Skeena River, to Victoria, BC; a distance of over 1,600 km! www.visionquestsociety.org
In the fall after the journey, Ed Hill was transferred to Gibsons. Having by now developed a love of ocean going canoes, he looked for a way to bring those same canoes to Gibsons. Hill contacted Lynne Smith at Clipper Canoe asking for a list of owners of similar canoes with the intention of organizing an annual race of these canoes based out of Gibsons. Smith advised Hill that he need not "reinvent the wheel" by using those First Nations designed canoes as there was already an ocean racing group called "CORA", (Canadian Outrigger Racing Association) that raced outrigger canoes. Gibsons, Ed surmised, would be a perfect place for such a race.
Mr. Hill got down to business with a group of local people and organized that first race for the summer of 1999. Clipper Canoe graciously loaned the Gibsons group an outrigger canoe so that anyone interested could try it out, train, and participate in the race. For the entire spring of 1999 approximately 50 local people practiced and trained in that single OC-6. The race was a phenomenal success and involved canoes from all over the west coast of North America. The three-day weekend event indeed demonstrated the “Mahalo” spirit of outrigger canoeing. The town of Gibsons was hooked and from that day forward was known as “The Ocean Going Canoe Capital of Canada”.
The success and excitement of the event prompted the local people to insist that the loaned canoe remain in Gibsons and not be sent back to Clipper Canoe. They had come to love the sport and needed to own a canoe of their own. An urgent meeting was held in the Gibsons Yacht Club on the afternoon of the race and it was agreed that a club would be formed - "The Gibsons Paddle Club" with Lorne Lewis as its first President and that initial group of people its charter members. Their membership dues provided the seed money to purchase that very first canoe and since that day, the growth of the GPC is a matter of history. The Gibsons Paddle Club now has three locations of canoe storage and launch and is perhaps the largest recreational canoe club on the west coast of North America.
and… that first canoe that was purchased from Clipper Canoe was named Ch’átiya’y (which is the Squamish Nation word for "Devil's Club") and is paddled by the members of the Gibsons Paddle Club to this day…
The Gibsons Paddle Club has grown to include:
4 x OC-6 canoes (six person) 3 Advantage, & 1 Mirage
To stay fit and healthy
To train and compete