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PHOTOS: War canoe races return to Chilliwack waterway at Skwah

Paddlers from across B.C. and Washington State compete in River Spirit Canoe Races

For the first time in more than two years, paddlers competed in canoe races on the Hope Slough in Chilliwack over the May long weekend.

The River Spirit Canoe Club hosted its annual canoe races at Chilliwack Landing on Skwah First Nation on Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22.

About a dozen canoe clubs and 70 paddlers came out from across B.C. and Washington State for the event which kicked off the 2022 war canoe race season.

The River Spirit Canoe Races event has been around for more than 30 years. It is run by the Williams family and was started to get children involved in competitive paddling because, at the time, all canoe races were just for teens and adults.

“It started out as a sports day for us kids because we had nothing to do… now it’s turned into a real race,” said Francis Williams, who’s been competing for decades.

The River Spirit Canoe Club currently has more than 50 members from kids to adults.

“We’re down here every day training,” Williams said.

On Saturday, kids as young as eight competed in the River Spirit Canoe Races. That day saw singles and doubles races, while Sunday there’s the three-man, four-man and six-man races. Sunday’s race schedule starts with the David Williams Memorial Marathon at 10 a.m.

The event is open to the public and is located on Skwah First Nation. Head west on Wellington Avenue and continue on Lower Landing Road until you reach the races.

Now that racing season has begun, most canoe clubs will travel pretty much every weekend from now until August to compete in more than 20 races throughout B.C. and the States.

The next war canoe race in Chilliwack is the 64th annual Cultus Lake Water Sports competition scheduled for June 3 to 5 at Main Beach.

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Jenna Hauck

About the Author: Jenna Hauck

I started my career at The Chilliwack Progress in 2000 as a photojournalist.
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