The 50th anniversary edition of the Raisin Region Conservation Authority’s (RRCA) Raisin River Canoe Race on Sunday, April 15 saw the largest turnout on record, with 485 paddlers of all ages in 290 boats participating in the immensely popular springtime event.

“We’re just blown away by the sheer number of paddlers from near and far who participated in today’s historic race,” says RRCA Board of Directors Chair, Martin Lang. “We also had the special privilege of being joined at the start line by several veteran canoeists from years past, including Bruno Major, who took part in the first Raisin River Canoe Race in 1973.”

While the past races have been known to include flurries and frigid weather, this year’s paddlers were treated to sunshine and a balmy temperature which reached 24 degrees Celsius. This spring’s warm weather caused the river’s water levels to peak a week before the race, giving paddlers the extra challenge of jostling down slightly lower levels as they navigated the scenic 30-kilometre course from St. Andrews in South Stormont to Williamstown in South Glengarry. The slower flows of 630 cubic feet per second permitted the safe opening of the Martindown Dam, where plucky paddlers shot through a narrow opening, drawing gasps and cheers from the assembled crowd.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better race,” says RRCA Race Coordinator, Lissa Deslandes. “The Raisin River Canoe Race holds a special place in the hearts of both residents and visitors to the region. It’s RRCA’s biggest annual event, and it really serves as a celebration of our area’s watersheds. We’re so grateful for the support from local organizations, sponsors, partners, and our safety committee and volunteers who have helped us coordinate this race throughout the decades.”

The fastest time down the Raisin River was the Pro Boat Tandem of Mike De Abreu and Ryan Stepka in a time of 2:21:04.

Full interim results are available at

Simon Mayer of Saint-Hippolyte proved that even stand-up paddleboards can successfully shoot the Martintown Dam. Submitted photo