Ice Chips & Canoe Quips

Another one bites the dust!

Organizer Jackie White just had to make the decision she was dreading. Cancelling what was to be the third annual Manitoulin Swim that took place in Manitowaning Bay in late August. 

The event is part of the Canaqua Sports Open Water Swim Series. Canaqua hosts these events all over Ontario. Fingers crossed for next year for you, Jackie!

It can’t happen, right?!

The 48th annual Wiky Road Race is still on the docket for this fall’s race. It is sad but important to note that many events are being ticked off as being unavailable this year. At this point if we all just endeavor to follow the now long-touted advisory to get to some physical distancing, it seems to appear as though it cannot apply to little ’ol Manitoulin? 

Medical officials are still thinking that there are no, deep reaches of any place in the world, let alone Canada, Manitoulin, certainly not Squirrel Town, Poplar, Billings, Clover Valley, Silver Water, etc. None of us are immune. COVID-19 can have access to us all no matter how isolated we feel. Stay strong, Toronto, Tillsonburg and Tehkummah. If we are all strong now, we will be stronger then! 

Assiginack track—socially distanced!

Manitowaning is not missing out on track this year, although it is going to be a little different. The racetrack will be groomed and set up for the following races: 100 m, 200 m, 400 m and 800 m as well as two- and five-km road races. The township’s website at: has maps to show you the route for the two km and five km races.

Between, June 15 and 22 you are encouraged to bring yourself and your family and run any or all of the races. The website advises participants to always keep in mind social distancing, and no more than a gathering of five. This may mean that you wait in your car for some to finish first. Go and run your races and take a time, or just run them for fun. But do take a selfie!

On June 23, a post will go up on the Township of Assiginack Facebook page and you are encouraged to share the race(s) you did, your time(s) and a pic of yourself! Let’s get active.

If you would like a participant certificate, please email with your mailing address and proof that you did a race (that selfie is perfect). They are offering one certificate per person.

Envious columnist writes vicariously

Some of my most memorable recollections have been from the seat of a canoe. Now, memorable doesn’t always mean fun. There is also the terrifying, exhausting, blistered, bug-bitten and viewing-my-canoe-from-below-water recollections! There have been those to be sure but the canoe has always been a vehicle for freedom, exploration, camaraderie and rare vistas. 

Two local paddlers are embarking once again on an adventure that has me essentially drooling. Kristin McKinlay-Bickell and Natalie Hastings last fall circumnavigated Manitoulin Island in a personal race to finish as quickly as possible before early fall weather stopped them cold. This summer they have challenged themselves with a slightly more pedestrian test, but no less exciting.

The pair will try to paddle around all of Manitoulin’s inland lakes. The numbers of lakes have long been argued of course, as is the old ‘when does a pond become a lake?’ debate. Natalie and Kristin are not too worried about such trivialities. They might be more concerned about the length of shoreline for the largest lake on an island, our Lake Manitou at 146km! Since they both work full-time the plan is to do as many as they can this season and keep going till they finish.

Another difference is that they endeavour to slow down a bit and document all the flora and fauna these individual lakes boast. Then couch canoers like myself can pretend they got to try it themselves. Congratulations on a great idea, Kristin and Natalie, have fun!

Wiky T-Birds have amazing tourney run!

The T-Birds? On ice? Well, virtually! The team suited up in all the finest Playstation jerseys to play in the Fred Sasakamoose Chief National Hockey Championship PS4 Tournament for Indigenous teams. And teams are just what you would expect for an on-ice team. The T-Birds’ roster included C – Jordan Trudeau, LW – Greg Trudeau-Paquet, RW – Clint Fox, LD – Jonas Aiabens, RD – Michael Aiabens and G – Kyle Baibomcowai. 

The tournament was impressive with live streaming, live announcers and even guest commentary by Snoop Dogg! Games have been posted to YouTube and I was surprised to get hooked, watching people I know carrying out complex plays on the big screen. It had suddenly dawned on me that these were not just skilled video game players, they were showing advanced hockey sense and vision. 

At one point in their game that was 1 – 1 after the first period, the Wiky T-Birds had a 94 percent passing success to their opposition’s 65 percent. The locals went on to win easily, of course. The team was eliminated but had an amazing 7 and 2 record. Check it out!  

Pros and duffers alike

For all those dying to get back on the links it is welcome news that the three Manitoulin golf courses are open and offering you to get back to your favourite pastime. Although there are regulations to keep everybody safe, the courses are all looking good and ready.

Although events are not for certain in some cases, the Rainbow Ridge Golf Course does have some modified events.

They still plan to do their Club Championship on September 12 and 13, modified of course. And they are also working on some weekly events—for instance, they are starting their senior men’s Wednesday this week (as in today), just call ahead for a tee time.

‘Where are they now?’ by Dad

He was born with ‘chubby cheeks’ and a big grin. He still has that chipmunk cheeky look and the smile prevails, certainly when he speaks about his hockey experiences. Aundeck Omni Kaning (AOK, and when I met him it was Sucker Creek)’s Scott Madahbee came to play for the Manitoulin Dolomite Bantams in the 1983-84 season when that team was playing in the Manitoulin/North Shore League against Elliot Lake, Blind River, Thessalon and Wiikwemkoong. 

He was a high scorer from the start although he was younger than most of his teammates and opponents. An almost perpetual smile graced his face and his positive attitude encouraged and were appreciated by his teammates and coaches alike. Todd Strain and future dentist Derek Lewis can attest to his sniper skills but would tell you that they would have enjoyed a few more passes! However, no sooner would they and coaches yell “pass it!” than throughout the arena could be heard a loud CLANG every true hockey fan recognizes…off-the-far-post-and-in. He had a great eye and wrister.

Coming back to the bench the first words I would hear would be, “I know, I know, I know, I should have passed it.” It was difficult to not laugh. It was even harder to lecture him. Let me make sure that I’ve expressed this correctly—it was definitely not a one-time happening! 

As time went on and he experienced the higher-calibre MNSL a few more passes found their way to his linemates. By the time Scott reached the last year of his Midget career he had definitely learned the goodness of the pass as he won the Scoring Championship in the again-higher-calibre Nickel District League, as the Midget Panthers won their second consecutive NDHL Championship. 

Between his first bantam game and his last Midget year there were many other accomplishments, funny stories, medals and tournament MVPs. He definitely could play high level hockey yet more memorable was his attitude, sense of team and the humour that came with his goals. 

A good sport is good for sports.