Adaptive Paddling Charity Seeks Muskoka Buyer For Handmade Cedar Strip Canoe

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Abilities in Motion is selling a 16-foot cedar strip canoe to fundraise for their adaptive paddling programs. Photo courtesy of Brayden Christos

An Ontario charity is selling a 16-foot handmade cedar strip canoe that has never touched the water, with engravings of a maple leaf and a loon on the bow and stern and a silver dollar is embedded in the base, and they think the right buyer could be in Muskoka.

Abilities in Motion (AIM) is a charity that offers adaptive canoeing and kayaking to people with disabilities. Brayden Christos, recreation manager and kayak instructor for AIM, said they work with a wide range of people, including people with physical and mental disabilities, workplace injuries or even temporary disabilities, such as people recovering from surgery. The impacts of the pandemic led the charity to cancel their regular programming, leaving them without a large portion of their usual funding, Christos said. To help fill the gaps, they’re working hard to sell a canoe donated by Tom Bailey of Canacanoe. The charity can’t use it themselves due to the rough waters they paddle, so instead, the sale of the canoe will act as a fundraiser for the organization alongside their annual Hands Across The Water fundraiser.

The interior of the canoe. Photo courtesy of Brayden Christos

“All that money that usually comes in through our paddlers isn’t there anymore, so we’re still having our yearly fundraiser, a paddlethon, we’re just running it online,” Christos said. “Everyone can paddle from their own backyards with their own equipment and still support us, but [the canoe] is just that extra little bit just to tide us over.”

The money from the fundraisers will help cover the cost of insurance and other expenses that the organization incurred while preparing for this year’s paddling season along with resources for future seasons. It doesn’t matter to AIM whether the buyer is looking to help out their cause or simply acquire a beautiful canoe, Christos said, because either way the funds will go toward getting new equipment, adding more instructors and helping the charity expand to more communities.

They currently offer programs in Alliston, London and Whitby that draw paddlers from as far as Springwater and Port Severn, and in the future, they hope to get instructors across Canada to open up their own locations that offer adaptive paddling in partnership with AIM. For now, they’re pushing to get their name out there while promoting their annual fundraiser and the sale of the canoe. Christos said it was originally valued at $5,000, but the cost is negotiable.

“The money is worth a lot more than the canoe to us because we’re a very small charity,” Christos said. “We’re just trying to keep ourselves going, especially through the whole COVID issue.”

The maple leaf engraved on the canoe. Photo courtesy of Brayden Christos

Christos is in his fifth year with the charity and he said the canoe has been around about as long as he has. They’ve struggled to find people with a serious interest in the canoe, which has left the handcrafted vessel to sit in their boathouse for years wrapped in bubble wrap to keep it protected. Now that the pandemic has put a strain on their finances, there’s a big push among AIM staff to find a buyer for the boat.

It’s disappointing to see it in storage, Christos said, calling it a phenomenal work of art. He said he’d buy it if he had the money, but as a student, the cost puts it out of reach for him. When he started brainstorming ways to sell the canoe, his mind went to Muskoka.

“I have a couple friends that have cottages up in Muskoka and every time I go up there, it’s just something about the setting and the cottages and the people that just love to be outside,” he said. “It’s really just the place to go canoeing and to enjoy outdoors, so I can really see it in someone’s cottage hanging from the ceiling or in the boathouse. I just want it to be used for something for someone who’s going to really enjoy it.”

If you’re interested in inquiring about or purchasing the canoe, send an email to info@abilitiesinmotion.ca or brayden@abilitiesinmotion.ca. To learn more about Abilities in Motion and their annual Hands Across The Water fundraiser, visit the AIM website.

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