WHAT AN ICE CANOE ! - a 2008 dvd release

From the "Outdoor Adventure Canada" Series

"Outdoor Adventure Canada" is a series of 26 programs celebrating Canada's outdoor heritage that were shot all across Canada. Programs for the series won an astonishing 80 international television awards, including 29 Gold & Silver medals, at leading American Film & Television Festivals.

All programs (25 min) are available only from Goldi Productions Ltd

Show Me All 26 Programs in the Series


Quebec's Historic Winter Carnival - Part 2

The grueling, historic race across the frozen St. Lawrence River started in earliest pioneer times in Quebec  when food, supplies, and medicine had to be transported across the river during freeze-up and break-up. Today an ice canoe team from Calgary and the first woman's team challenges the champions as thousands line the river banks to watch this uniquely historic Canadian pastime. (DVD Cover, left)

VIEWER COMMENTS" We have of course seen many programs on our Winter Carnival but yours are by far the best we have ever seen. It is easy to see that the people who made them have great affection for the people and traditions of Quebec. Merci!"
- Program Executive, Tele-Quebec, Quebec's Educational Television Channel

  • ..... by far the best programs we have ever seen
           - Program Executive, Tele-Quebec, Quebec's Educational Television Channel



Each year, ice canoeists celebrate the bravery of those who used to deliver mail and supplies along the ice-clogged St. Lawrence River in winter, with one of the most grueling events on earth. In open boats, they battle their way over ice flows, through slush, across open water, and beat their way against high tides to cross from Québec City to Lévis on the opposite shore, and back again.

The annual ice canoe race evolved out of a long tradition, unique to this part of the world. For hundreds of years, the St. Lawrence River was the only route connecting the farms and settlements strung out along its banks and islands. In summer, boats plied the river, and in winter, settlers crossed the ice bridge by sleigh. But in early winter, before the river froze solid, the river became a treacherous mix of water and floating ice. The same conditions occurred during spring breakup. By the end of the seventeenth century, the Québeçois had developed heavy wooden canoes that could be alternately dragged across the ice, or paddled on open water. The exploits of the canotiers de glace, the ice canoeists who braved the ice-clogged river to carry food, medical supplies, mail, and passengers to the islands and isolated settlements became legendary.

These days, the broken-ice conditions for ice-canoes occur all winter long, thanks to icebreakers that keep the shipping lanes open all year round all the way to Montreal.

This program will explore the background and traditions of this grueling event as it continues to evolve, and we'll find out why anyone would want to participate. Mario Ouellett, the President of the Ice Canoe Association, explains the history and the main components of the race, and we follow several teams as they prepare and train for the annual race.

For hundreds of years, Quebeckers have had to deal with how to cross the ice-choked St. Lawrence River. (above). Bonhomme, the mascot of Winter Carnival (right), waves off the canoes as they prepare to race twice around a huge triangle set across the ic-clogged river. It's all part of Winter Carnival celebrations of the French-Canadian heritage in Canada.
Stefanie Drouin, (below, right) the captain of the only woman's team to challenge the men in this historic Quebecois heritage reenactment race, still lives only a few hundred yards from where still stands the original Drouin homestead stone house, built in the 1600s.  Below left, the women practice amid the ice floes in the middle of the St. Lawrence River
The Anderson Brothers
Jacques and Jean Anderson are a team of engineers who have won the race every year for the last decade, and they are the leaders in keeping the activity alive and evolving. They love the technical challenge, and are constantly experimenting with better techniques, better equipment, and new technology, which everyone else eventually copies. As they created lighter and lighter boats, with new space age materials, the rules of the race were changed to set a minimum weight for the boats to make sure boats didn't get so expensive that no one could afford them any more.

Specially designed crampons ( right), designed by Chateau Frontenac team members Jacques and Jean Andersen, sport long studs to give maximum traction on ice, but offer no protection in ice cold water, as the women fight their way across the river.

The Calgary Team
Calgary is Québec's sister city. Each year, for over 20 years, Calgary has sent the only non-Québec team to the ice canoe race. They practice each fall on the Bow River, then come to Québec a couple of weeks before the actual race to get used to the real conditions on the river. For them, it is a special experience, not only because of the challenge, but because of the warm welcome and assistance they have had from all the Québec teams.
The Woman's Team
There is only one woman's team, and they are a great example to active women everywhere who are happy to participate in challenging events, even though they know they have little or no chance of winning. They cheerfully tell us why they keep going, even though they always finish near the back of the pack. If they beat at least one of the men's teams, they'll be happy.

"You people sure do fine work! Very fine work! In a tough field of 53 programs you won two medals. Congratulations!"
- J. Hunter Todd, President, Houston TX International Film Festival

"It is an honour for us to be associated with productions such as yours. You have every right to be thrilled with your accomplishment! Congratulations."
- Garry Toth, Canadian Television Fund

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