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700 Paddlers to celebrate 20th Anniversary of Manulife Paddle the Don

May 06, 2013


For Immediate Release    

(TORONTO, May 3, 2013)


At the heart of Canada's largest urban region is the iconic Don River - a river with a story like no other. Once a year, since 1993, Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) provides a unique opportunity for people and corporate teams to paddle from Ernest Thompson Seton Park to the mouth of the river at the Keating Channel - a 10.5 km journey. It's a chance to experience an exciting natural adventure in an urban environment and more than 700 hundred paddlers (consisting of 350 canoes and kayaks) and 30 corporate boats have registered for the event.

This year Paddle the Don will celebrate its 20th anniversary and to mark this special milestone the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, will join participants at the launch site. An exhibit designed to celebrate Paddle the Don and increase engagement in the watershed, titled Discover the Don, will also be on display at in the Young Welcome Centre at Evergreen Brick Works from May 5th-June 14th.

"Paddling the Don is such a unique experience, a way to celebrate the beauty of this province while in the heart of our largest city. It's one of those moments that makes you appreciate how special it is to live in Ontario," said Premier Kathleen Wynne.

"Manulife Paddle the Don is all about having fun, enjoying nature, and celebrating the Don River watershed," said Adele Freeman, Watershed Management Director, Toronto and Region Conservation. "The trip also provides a time for reflection on all the benefits we derive from the natural environment - air, water, resources, recreation, and spiritual renewal - that are integral to the health and function of the city and the surrounding region."

Manulife Paddle the Don was founded on the core principles of protecting, regenerating, and enhancing the Don River watershed. These principles have guided the work that TRCA and countless other organizations and individuals have undertaken, and they are the driving force behind the effort to protect and conserve the watershed.

"Preserving our local environment is critical to a healthy quality of life in our community," said Donald Guloien, President and CEO of Manulife Financial, whose corporate office is located within the Don River Watershed. "Manulife is committed to the betterment of our natural environment and the protection of our green space for future generations to enjoy."

The event is organized by TRCA, The Living City Foundation, the Wilderness Canoe Association and the Don Watershed Regeneration Council, along with the support of many dedicated volunteers, generous sponsors and watershed supporters.

Since the pledge program began in 2002, paddlers have raised almost $400,000! Funds raised will help support initiatives that are of environmental benefit to the watershed and the people who live, work and visit the Don. In 2013 funds will go towards:

Paddle the Don Student Innovation Grant

Students are the future of protection and conservation in the Don. To promote this future, two grants of up to $2500 each will be provided to Post-Graduate students that are working to protect, regenerate, and enhance the Don River Watershed through their programs of study.

The Don River Watershed Urban Tree Canopy Development Program

The continued development and management of the urban tree canopy in the Don River Watershed is vitally important to the future of this expanding urban region. The Don River Watershed Urban Tree Canopy Development Program will provide funding and resources to organizations focused on the development of the urban tree canopy in the watershed.

Don Watershed Speaker Series

It takes new and ground-breaking ideas to successfully manage a watershed like the Don. To help facilitate the development and communication of these ideas; we will develop a platform for engaging speakers to present their ideas to you as you work to make a difference through your involvement in the management of the Don River Watershed.


Sunday, May 5, 2013, from 8:15 - 4:00 p.m.



Launch site: the paddle starts at Ernest Thompson Seton Park, access the park via the entrance to Wilket Creek Park and Sunnybrook Park on the west side of Leslie Street, just north of Eglinton Avenue, and follow the signs to the Paddle.


Take-Out Site: The Paddle the Don take-out, located in the parkette on the northwest corner of Villiers Street and Don Roadway. (170 Villiers Street)


Launch Site: E.T. Seton Park

8:15 a.m.: Welcoming Remarks and Greetings, Gerri Lynn O'Connor, Chair, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority; Greetings from Manulife Financial: Donald Guloien, President and CEO, Manulife Financial; Greetings from the Province of Ontario: The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier, Province of Ontario; Remarks of Appreciation: Brian Denney, CEO, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

8:45 a.m.: Photo Opportunity with Dignitaries

8:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m.: Paddlers launch from Ernest Thompson Seton Park


Takeout Site: Manulife Take-out Party event - Villiers Parkette (1:30 p.m. or when all corporate teams have arrived)


10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Paddlers begin arriving at Take-Out Site. Food and refreshments will be available. Entertainment by musical group The Don Valley Boyz. Remarks of Appreciation, Fundraising Announcements, Closing Remarks: Scott Fortnum, Executive Director, The Living City Foundation

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of the Province of Ontario; Matthew Kellway, MP Beaches- East York; Craig Scott, MP Toronto-Danforth; Michael Prue, MPP, Beaches-East York; Michael Couteau, MPP Don Valley East; Councillor Valerie Burke, Markham; and spokespeople from TRCA, Manulife Financial, corporate teams and paddlers of all ages at the Launch Site and Take-Out Site


For more information, please go to:

To download a route map:


Toronto and Region Conservation

With over 50 years of experience, Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) helps people understand, enjoy and look-after the natural environment. Our vision is for The Living City®, where human settlement can flourish forever as part of nature's beauty and diversity.  For more information, call 416-661-6600 or visit us at








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Media contact:

Elizabeth Oakley
Tel: 416-661-6600 ext 5856

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