50 Years, 50 People: Dorothy “Dot” Bonnenfant

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Woman in red canoe
photo: Reid McLachlan

Dot loves to share her passion for canoeing, and it shows in the number of Paddle Canada Instructor certifications she holds: Lake, Big Canoe, Moving Water, Style, and Camping. Dot has been a huge supporter of the Paddle Canada program in the Ottawa area. Her two greatest assets as an instructor are her obvious joy in the sport and a conviction that “anyone can do it”.

Dot’s passion for paddling start from a very early age as her father was an active paddler and helped to found the Y Canoe Camping Club (members of the YMCA that wanted to go out and paddle, now called the Recreation Association Canoe Camping Club) in 1952. She was her father’s “bow-buddy” for most of his courses and trips. Dot continues to spend most of her time messing about in boats, canoe tripping, and frequently seen doing spontaneous coaching sessions. She has devoted countless volunteer hours to instructing, organizing events, developing safety marshal crews for local canoe events, and researching canoe history. Dot often encourages other instructors to come together and teach as a group so the participants can see a larger paddling community. She is also not shy about continually updating and learning new ways to teach. She has attended and led many canoe maintenance clinics and became a Big Canoe and Style Instructor when these two programs were introduced.

Dot has participated in a number of events involving the voyageur “big” canoes, including co-leading the “Capital2Capital” brigade, 42-day expedition from Ottawa to Washington in 2012.

Dot talents don’t stop at paddling, she is also an accomplished artist who specializes in wood-burning on paddles. Her talented designs range from traditional to custom pictorials, some of which can be seen at http://www.heritagepaddles.com

Presently Dot sits on the Paddle Canada Canoe Lake sub-committee updating that program.

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