Two men are hitting the Clearwater River in an effort to raise awareness for our veterans and First Nations.
Mike Ranta, of Killarney, Ontario, along with his friend Steven O’Neill, will canoe along the river to the Athabasca on their way to Yellowknife.
Ranta said it’s his way of connecting with Canadians over key issues, like homeless veterans.
“It’s just saying thanks to some great Canadians that really did and do make a contribution to our country. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for our First Nations and our veterans. They protect our way of life.”
The two will hit the water in separate canoes Thursday morning for the roughly 1,400 kilometre trek, which he guesses will take four to five weeks.
This isn’t the first time Ranta has done a trip of this length. He’s paddled from Vancouver to Cape Breton Island, giving him the world record for the longest solo canoe trip.
He said he really wanted to cover the third coast of Canada and the current of the rivers here work in their favour.
“I want to turn it into something positive. Something where I can help my fellow men and women and set a good, positive example of what it’s like to be a true Canadian. Get out there and do things for others and enjoy the wilderness and what we have here.”
The two will sleep in tents and stop in communities when needed to shower and stock up on supplies, which include dog food for Ranta’s dog Spitzii.
Ranta said supplies also include “rib sticking stuff” like porridge and trail mix, along with some sweets to keep him going.
Spitzii, who is 11, has joined Ranta on his paddles since he was 7-weeks-old.
“I don’t go anywhere in the bush without him. He’s just simply an amazing best friend. He’s my campsite soldier, my bear scarer. He’s as brave as he is handsome.”
Ranta said that Spitzii knows once he’s in the canoe to watch for logs and rocks.
Their trips include Rocky Mountain House to Montreal, Vancouver to Nova Scotia and Fort McMurray to The Pas among many others.