Tuesday, 3 July 2007

New Peakes '07

Armchair adventurers have been travelling the scenic wilds of Canada with members of the Toronto-based Hide-Away Canoe Club via satellite since 1997.

And lovin' every minute.

Michael Peake, 55, an award-winning veteran Toronto Sun photographer, and Peter Brewster, 64, a former Sun managing editor, are among six club members leaving today for a trek to Rainbow Lake in northern Saskatchewan. It will take three airplanes to reach their starting point.

The four other members are Michael's brother, Geoffrey Peake, 46, a Toronto teacher, fellow teacher Tom Stevens, Orangeville's Rev. Canon Peter Scott and Keith Gunn, one of his parishioners. All but Keith, a last-minute replacement for Sean Peake, are repeat Hide-Away Canoe Club voyageurs.

Thomas Claridge of the Orangeville Citizen wrote a story about the two Orangeville adventurers and their pending journey last week.

"Dubbed the Northern Crossing, the trip will follow a route taken by explorer David Thompson, Canada's greatest land geographer, in 1796, (and Eric Morse in 1957)," Thomas wrote.

"They'll be taking with them three canoes, three tents, all the food they'll need for the 300-mile, 17-day journey through northern Saskatchewan and Alberta, and state-of-the-art satellite communications that will allow the trip to be chronicled on the Sun Media website canoe.ca.

"The journey, from July 4 to 22, will feature daily Web logs and photos, podcasts, and video diaries from the club members, who did a Labrador Odyssey in 2001 through the mountains of northern Labrador and down river into Ungava Bay." You can also read about their 1997 George River trek in Quebec and their 1999 journey up the Winisk River to Hudson's Bay.

Before the high tech Roadpost Communications equipment was added to their gear, armchair adventurers had to settle for photo stories by Michael and Peter in the Toronto Sun. The club's first canoe trip was in 1981 and this will be its first since 2001.

What this longtime fan of Michael's photography anticipates are his spectacular landscape photographs. We have two large framed photos on the walls here and they have been appreciated daily for almost 20 years.

What a gift Michael and the rest of the Hide-Away Canoe Club members gave armchair adventurers on their high tech 1997, 1999 and 2001 journeys.

In 1997, Michael expressed his feelings about the wilds and motives of club members:

"These trips are tough, that's for sure. And that's partly the point. They bring you back to the basics of living. Food, shelter and weather. These are the only things that really matter when you're on the land. They also give you a chance to reflect on one's usually harried city life."

The 2007 trek, which will include some hazardous rapids, can be monitored daily at canoe.ca/northerncrossing.ca. A Northern Crossing forum has been set up here.

As Michael, a 32-year Sun vet, says in his 2007 Governor's Message: "In all, there is about 450 km of travel by shoe and canoe."

Peter Brewster's opening journal entry explains the six-year layoff for club expeditions, which he says mostly involved the loss of loved ones.

"Our lives have been branded deep by the vagaries of fate. The events that unfolded are the reason our tightly-knit group suspended the canoe expeditions that have been the mile-markers of our collective adult lives," Peter writes.

"The tragedies and joys are the reasons we could not go. With time, they are now the reason we must."

Glenn Garnett, editor-in-chief and Inside the Sun blogger, told his blog readers last night: "We’ll put together a spread of Peake’s best work in the Toronto Sun next month."

The Peake brothers also publish Che-Mun, a publication for and about canoeists.

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