Cross-Canada Dispatch #2: Across the Prairies for Canada Day

Mike Ranta celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday on Lake Winnipeg

The first six weeks of Mike Ranta and David Jackson's canoe journey across Canada stand in stark contrast to their last month on the trail. Departing the Pacific coast in early April, diehard canoeist Ranta and photojournalist Jackson hauled their canoes across the Rockies. When C&K caught up with the pair in Banff, Alberta, in late May, they were well across the Continental Divide, ready to make time on the Canadian Prairies.

Now, Ranta and Jackson are navigating the complex waters of Cedar Lake, just west of Lake Winnipeg. On their 4,500-mile journey to celebrate the country's sesquicentennial, Ranta and Jackson (both Ontario natives) were poised to spend Canada Day, July 1, on the shallow and often tempestuous waters of one of its iconic lakes.

Jackson has documented his recent days to travel with the ‘Last Voyageur’ in photos and words on Instagram:

May 30, A Long Day on the Prairies. "Tucked into the ruins of a long dead Elm tree, Mike Ranta cooks a dinner of potatoes, beans, and bacon. After consecutive eighteen hour days, Ranta and Spitzii would find a few hours rest on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, Alberta."



June 14, Another Long Day. "Mike Ranta paddles into the evening as the sunsets behind the South Saskatchewan River, SK. By sunrise the next morning, Ranta would light a small fire before resting in a willow patch after 24 straight hours in the canoe."



June 15, At Home on the Water. "Plywood decks, a custom cart bracket in the bow, one seat, and a raised bed for Spitzii round out Mike Ranta’s 18ft Souris River Canoe. Everything is designed to facilitate spending two-thirds of each year on the water. Just like any home, Ranta has a stove for cooking, a sham wow for cleaning, and the wilds of Canada broadcasting live in every direction."


Crossing the border from Saskatchewan into Manitoba, Mike Ranta slid silently under distant storms. Anti climatic as the moment was, it seemed fitting and just another second passed as Ranta paddled into his fourth province of this 2017 sesquicentennial paddle. The following morning, mosquito swarms would transform into storm clouds as the shuddering chill of electricity filled the air. Hiding under the porch of a trappers cabin on the Saskatchewan River, Ranta considered the fast approaching reservoir that is Cedar Lake which collects before the Grand Rapids dam and Lake Winnipeg. Ranta recalls his first trip across the country when he spent 18 nights windbound on the four day paddle along the south shore. The afternoon of day 81 will see river turn to cat tail as the current disappears and the wild lakes of central Manitoba take over. "Mercy did not exist in the primordial life. It was misunderstood for fear, and such misunderstandings made for death. Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, was the law; and this mandate, down out of the depths of Time, he obeyed." – Jack London. #greatcanadianbirthdaypaddle #canada150 #manitoba

A post shared by David Jackson (@davidjackson__) on


June 20, The Fourth Province. "Crossing the border from Saskatchewan into Manitoba, Mike Ranta slid silently under distant storms … The following morning, mosquito swarms would transform into storm clouds as the shuddering chill of electricity filled the air. Hiding under the porch of a trappers cabin on the Saskatchewan River, Ranta considered the fast- approaching reservoir that is Cedar Lake … The afternoon of day 81 will see river turn to cat tail as the current disappears and the wild lakes of central Manitoba take over.”


— Stay tuned to CanoeKayak.com for more updates and dispatches as the expedition progresses. For more Mike Ranta: