Sliding out in the early spring light, a fisherman's wharf slowly fading into the distance, Mike Ranta looked back at the western shoreline of Canada. Hollow barks ricochet off the ocean, reverberated back to Spitzii who stands at the bow of a green, 18ft canoe. Custom built, wooden decks and an aluminum cart brace for portages, Ranta's canoe was built to stand the rigours of 8,000km's, a vessel to navigate amidst the brilliant geography of Canada. On April 1st, 2014, Ranta and Spitzii began their first cross Canada canoeing odyssey.
By the time Ranta and Spitzii paddled into their hometown of Atikokan, tucked neatly in wilds of North Western Ontario, the two had left behind 3,500 kilometers and the western expanse of Canada. Across the divide, the two portaged 400km's and travelled no less than 40km's per day by water or land, proving their hearty grit at the midpoint of a grand voyage. With 150km's left to Cape Breton, a young girl left Ranta with what would prove the end of his 214 day odyssey. "You shouldn't be on the water in November." Ushered the little girl after petting Spitzii. Haunted by her words and noting the fierce nature of fall time storms sweeping over much of the Atlantic, Ranta stopped days later and ended his trip in Tatamagouche, NS. Having traveled in excess of 7,500km's, Ranta and Spitz celebrated a few days before returning home to Ontario. They received of the Expedition of the Year award presented by Canoe & Kayak Magazine for their trip. Upon returning home, inevitably, Ranta began planning for 2016.
Weaving a wreath across the myriad landscape, Ranta and Spitzii paddled into Ottawa the final days of August. After tweaking his route and receiving fair weather with high water, 2016 faded into the ripples of relentless forward progression. The duo arrived to a hero's welcome in Dominion Beach, Cape Breton, some 200 days after departing Vancouver. Ranta drew his strength from the veterans he interacted with along Canada's liquid highways, simultaneously showing his appreciation for their service and raising money for PTSD awareness.
Ranta returned to Ottawa on November 11th, months after paddling through the nations capital. Ranta created a wreath comprised of wood from each province, with the intentions to lay it on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on remembrance day. With his wreath in hand and Canadian flag drapped over his shoulders, Ranta stepped into the biting wind. Under the 21 gun salute, he laid his wreath down in a moment that lasted hundreds of days, thousands of kilometre's, and memories of another trip come and gone. The trip was done.
Canada’s last voyageur left Ottawa, this time in a Toyota Tacoma heading West, his canoe floating on the breeze of a homecoming to Atikokan. “We are going again, it’s Canada’s 150th birthday next year, and that’s worth celebrating…”.