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Paddlers take on the Don River in Annual Springtime Ritual

Apr 29, 2010

The sound of rushing water, the wildlife songs of spring, light filtered by tall trees, the rhythmic sound of your paddle guiding you down the river. For many people these images are only associated with remote parks like Algonquin, but not for people paddling on a river through Canada's largest urban city who get to experience this and more at the 17th Annual Paddle the Don, on Sunday May 2.

"There is no event like this in Toronto where you can actually experience an urban river from the seat of canoe," said Adele Freeman, Director, Watershed Management. "It's amazing to see the natural wonders of the Don River right at the heart of a city of millions of people. We are thrilled with the positive response residents have given us for this event. Together we are helping to raise awareness that we each need to do our part to protect, restore and regenerate the Don."

This year more than 600 people, including 18 corporate teams, will be taking over 300 canoes and kayaks in a once- a- year opportunity to navigate 15km down the Don River from Ernest Thompson Seton Park to the mouth of the river at the Keating Channel on the Toronto Harbour.  The individual paddler registration sold out in less than 12 hours this year.

"For the past five years I've 'Paddled the Don' - it's one of the highlights of my year! Every year the river seems to be in better shape," said Kathleen Wynne, MPP and Minister of Transportation. "TRCA deserves a huge thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience this unique view of the city and to support our beautiful natural heritage."

Almost half of the Don watershed is devoted to housing, and a fifth to industrial, institutional or commercial development. However annual celebrations, such as Paddle the Don, help engage the community and provide a wider awareness of the environmental challenges the river faces.

Now, new initiatives are underway, thanks to the hundreds of people and businesses who take part in the event organized by Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA), The Conservation Foundation of Greater Toronto, the Wilderness Canoe Association, the City of Toronto and the Don Watershed Regeneration Council, along with the support of many dedicated volunteers, generous sponsors and watershed supporters.

The Paddle the Don pledge program began in 2002 and individual paddlers and corporate teams have raised more than $230,000 to date. These funds are held by The Conservation Foundation of Greater Toronto and will go directly towards regeneration and naturalization projects in the Don watershed.   

Paddle the Don is just one activity among many projects big and small happening right now in the Don watershed.  Large initiatives include:  the Environmental Assessment for the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project which TRCA is leading on behalf of Waterfront Toronto; the City of Toronto's Cleaning Up Our Waterways: The Don River and Central Waterfront Project which aims to control the run off of storm water and sewage overflow into the river; and implementation of Beyond Forty Steps, TRCAs updated Don Watershed Plan that was released in December 2009.

WHAT: Paddle the Don!

WHEN: Sunday, May 2, 2010

            8:15 a.m. Welcoming speeches and first launch of the day at the Launch Site

            8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Paddlers launch from E.T. Seton Park

           10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Paddlers begin arriving at Take-Out Site

           11:00 a.m. Start of Banrock Station Landing Party at the Take-Out Site.



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.

WHO:  Carolyn Bennett, MP, St. Paul's; Kathleen Wynne, MPP and Minister of Transportation; Paula Fletcher, Councillor, Toronto, Ward 30 Toronto Danforth; Michael Prue, MPP, Beaches- East York; Janet Davis, Councillor, Toronto, Ward 31 Beaches- East York; Denzil Minnan-Wong, Councillor, Toronto, Ward 34 Don Valley East; Jane Pitfield, President Caledon Heritage Foundation, spokespeople from TRCA, sponsors, corporate teams and paddlers of all ages at the Launch Site and Take-Out Site



Banrock Station, presenting sponsor, Corporate Team Canoe Challenge

RBC Royal Bank, launch site sponsor

Manulife Financial, segment sponsor

Terrapex Environmental Ltd., segment sponsor


For more information please go to:


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




For media information, contact:

Rowena Calpito. Supervisor, Media Management                     
Toronto and Region Conservation

Tel: 416-661-6600 ext 5632

Mobile: 416-358-3446



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Elizabeth Oakley
Tel: 416-661-6600 ext 5856

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