50 Years, 50 People: Andrew Westwood

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Andrew’s earliest memories of canoeing were at summer camp and having to kneel on some old life jackets because he couldn’t reach the floor when seated. His passion grew and during high school Andrew spent his summers paddling and hiking with his friends. Andrew’s early jobs allowed time for more paddling adventures and a fierce passion to advance his skills. A recommendation led Andrew to the Madawaska Kanu Centre where he quickly rose from client to Instructor Trainer. 

Andrew started to analyze how one paddles as clients’ and fellow instructors’ questions increased. While in the slalom and creeking community, Andrew dove deeper into finding how those manoeuvres could be broken down into easy steps making them easier to teach to entry-level paddlers.

In the late ’90s Scott MacGregor of Paddling Magazine asked Andrew to write some “How to Paddle” articles. It was through analyzing how we paddle and how we can teach it that Andrew came up with some new ideas on teaching. MITH (Momentum, Initiation, Tilt, and Hold) for tandem and the 2×4 Method for solo paddling were new foundational paddling techniques.

In 2008 Paddle Canada invited Andrew to sit on the Canoe Program Development Committee as it was updating all their canoe programs. Andrew was able to travel and demonstrate these ideas to Instructors and Instructor Trainers across Canada. Andrew continues to sit on the committee, answer and ask questions, and inspire others to try out new ways of teaching “how we paddle”. 

Teaching is a significant part of Andrew’s life as he is also a school teacher. The real question though that Andrew ponders is: “Am I a teacher that teaches canoeing during my spare time or am I a canoe instructor that teaches children during my spare time?” The answer is probably best answered by his partner, Carole, during those middle of the night sleeps when “I think I have it” sharing sessions happen.

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