Paddle Canada: 50 Years, 50 People

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In celebration of Paddle Canada’s 50 anniversary, we would like to acknowledge that thousands of people have contributed the organization as we see it today. Everyone who has served Paddle Canada as a Provincial/Territorial Director, a committee member, volunteer, or staff member over the first 50 Years is recognized as helping make the organization all it is today. 

Over the course of the year, we would like to introduce you to 50 people that have made great contributions to Paddle Canada. We realize that this is a list that could be never-ending, and we encourage you to reach out to us if there is someone you feel needs to be recognized.


We will start introducing our 50 people with our two co-founders; and add one a week (in no particular order) for the remainder of the year.

John Eberhard, Co-Founder of Paddle Canada, President 1972-1975 and 1981-1986, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Committee Chair, Committee Member

John Eberhard

It was in 1971 that John while planning a canoe trip, discovered that no organization in Canada was encouraging, providing information, or promoting recreational canoeing. His idea was to form a national organization. The result was The Canadian Canoeing Association (incorporated in 1972). He brought is legal and organizational skills to PC. The name was formally changed to the Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association in 1975. In addition to being a two-time President, John held a variety of roles over the years. He was the first Chair (1986) of Canoe Canada (a subsidiary Corporation of PC). He was the first recipient of the highest CRCA award for canoeing in Canada: “The Canadian Voyageur Award” signifying having achieved the required distance paddling in each Province and Territory in Canada. He was appointed representative of the Americas and Pacific Rim Countries to the International Canoe Federation (I.C.F.-T.C.) and was presented with the CRCA Award of Merit and Appreciation (1997). He is also the Founder and Chairman of the International Fellowship of Canoeing Rotarians 1992 – 2020. He retired from Paddle Canada in 1998. His legal career ended with his retirement in September 2020 as a judge on a Federal Tribunal. He is now enjoying a quiet rural life near London, Ontario, and continues to enjoy cottage canoeing and tripping from his island roots and spiritual home on Lake Temagami.

Ronald Johnstone, Co-Founder of Paddle Canada, President 1978-1980, Executive Director 1972-1977, Treasurer, Secretary, Committee Chair and Committee Member

Ron Johnstone

Ron Johnstone’s career included being a Boy’s Work Secretary in YMCA’s, Camp Director, and the owner (Camp White Bear – Temagami). He was actively involved in many organizations dedicated to outdoor recreation. His co-founder approached him in 1971 when Ron was the President of the Canadian Camping Association. He was later the President of Campground Consultants of Canada. His working knowledge of camping/canoeing people across Canada generated the early members of the Board of Directors of PC. Over the course of his career, Ron worked or volunteered for a variety of camps and organizations. He ended his working career doing personnel work for a Calgary firm. Meetings were never dull with Ron in the chair. He was decisive. He was fun. He was fair. Few leaders could find consensus like Ron. In a sometimes fractious confederation, he got people to work together! Despite the diverse views of 12 interest groups represented around the PC board table, he could diffuse rancorous debate to achieve consensus among parochial views. He got things done! After his passing, in 1994, his name lived on through the Ron Johnstone Paddling Centre that was owned and operated by Paddle Canada until its sale in 2007.  His strength left an indelible mark on the national vision for a canoeing fraternity in Canada.

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