Hand Painted Kirk Wipper Tribute Paddle by Hap Wilson

Hap Wilson (see below) with his stunning tribute paddle in honour of Kirk’s memory. Kirk was forever taking pictures and always had a camera in hand. This paddle was donated and presented at the Kirk Wipper Tribute: Travelling On gathering which took place at Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

On Friday, March 18th, 2011, Canada and the paddling community lost one of it’s cherished icons, Kirk Wipper. Kirk was a gentleman, a paddler, a teacher, a father, a husband and a friend. As Kirk was co-founder of the Canadian Canoe Museum, a special memorial gathering in Kirk’s honour entitled “Travelling On: Celebrating the Life and Passions of Kirk Wipper” took place in early May at the Canoe Museum with many in attendance. It was also live-streamed on the internet and recorded.

A canoe was portaged by a number of Kirk’s friends and acquaintances from the University of Toronto all the way to the museum in Peterborough. All in honour of Kirk. The canoe, donated by Swift Canoe & Kayak, and the Digger canoe paddle (which was autographed by all those who participated in The Great Canadian Portage) currently reside at the museum*. (see photos below)

As part of the special tribute paid to Kirk that day, people performed, wrote poems, songs, and shared their cherished memories of Kirk Wipper. Hap Wilson (author, artist and advocate) was one of the speakers at this very special event and even painted a likeness of Kirk on an ash Digger paddle. This paddle was donated to the Canadian Canoe Museum. Many thanks to Hap Wilson for creating such a masterpiece in Kirk’s honour and for allowing Badger Paddles to be a part of this wonderful homage to Kirk’s memory. He is dearly missed.

The Man And The Canoe

There once was a man,

a keeper, of the wilderness.

There once was a Canoe,

also a keeper of the wilderness.

There once was a meeting of these spirits.

The man and the Canoe became brothers.

This man revered his brother

and the Canoe made many friends.

The man and his friends made a

special home for the Canoe.

They found him shelter.

They made him a museum.

They honoured the Canoe.

The Canoe was grateful to his brother.

The Canoe's friends were grateful to his brother.

For without the man, who shared his

View From The Stern,

The Canoe would be lost.

Forgotten by the masses.

And without the Canoe, by which we lived,

Our heritage would be lost.

Our wilderness, forgotten.

Without the Canoe, we would not be Canada.

And without this man, we would not be who we are... still... today. Canadian. Canoeists.

written by Fiona Westner-Ramsay

first published on Badger’s Blog.

It was read on her behalf by Mike Ormsby

at the CCM ‘s  tribute to Kirk Wipper

To find out more about Kirk Wipper, and his amazing contributions to our way of life, please visit Kirk’s official website: www.kirkwipper.ca or visit The Canadian Canoe Museum website to learn about their historically important exhibits and/or to donate.

VISIT THE CANADIAN CANOE MUSEUMhttp://www.canoemuseum.ca/

*As of the date of this publishing.