10 Years – 10 Memories

zoomed in image of aluminum epoxy inlay on a limited edition Badger Paddle with numbered signed and dated shaft of second special edition paddle limited issue

10 Years – 10 Memories

After 10 years in the paddle-making biz, we have built up a countless collection of memories. In no real particular order, here are some of the ones that we dig the most!

Memory #10 – Near The Very Beginning

Screen capture of Portageur.ca tweet

In our first year of business we joined Twitter. Thus, we began following a bunch of outdoorsy businesses and people right away. Our first follow (and follower) was our good friends at Algonquin Outfitters. AO was actually one of our very first dealers and we still enjoy doing business with them to this very day!

But little did we know that when we hit the follow button for the witty and educational Portageur.ca account, that our whole world would get so much better. As Preston, the two legged voice of Portageur.ca, along with his lovable sidekick and portaging pooch Nancy, have become some of the best friends we could ever have hoped for.

Having worked on multiple projects with both AO and Portageur.ca, we tracked down the first public mention we could find. It happens to be from Preston’s Twitter account and we have included it here in gratitude and in honour of our friendships with both AO and Portageur.ca along with our storied histories together.

Memory #9 – Badger® Becomes a Registered Trademark

One of the more memorable moments in our business is when Badger® became a registered trademark in 2013. Thanks to canoeist, and our friend, Ron Dimock of DIMOCK STRATTON LLP, for all his help with setting us on the appropriate trademark path!

Badger Paddles Registered Trademark Paperwork

Memory #8 – Meeting with Motion Exposure

Another one of our more exciting memories was when we met the famed photographer, Stephen Orlando. Stephen is the artist behind the viral “Motion Exposure” light photos that were going around the internet. Stephen’s images have been in the news and featured by the site Bored Panda, among others, including a shared post by the famous George Takei on Facebook.

So not only were we honoured with a visit from Stephen, but we were also informed by this famously viral photographer that he used his Badger paddle to capture his beautiful light photography while paddling his canoe… a cherry Sliver.

We later designed a custom paddle that made it easier for him to add and remove his lighting kit from his canoe paddle. Seriously, how cool is that?!

Memory #7 – Canoecopia

We can still remember the excitement and honour we felt at being invited to our very first Canoecopia in Madison Wisconsin. Darren Bush, the owner of Rutabaga and the largest paddling expo in North America, requested that we join the event in 2013. It was an absolute privilege to add our handcrafted traditional canoe paddles to their annual paddling exhibition. It felt like a real feather in our Badger Paddles cap to say the least!

Fun fact: We had to sell a certain number of paddles in order to ensure the Badger product line was welcomed by canoeist shoppers in the U.S. Obviously we passed the test as Badger Paddles has been a supplier for Rutabaga and a fixture at Canoecopia ever since. In fact, we will be seeing you all there in 2020 too!

Memory #6 – Going Viral

A small business, especially one as small as ours, is lucky to get even just one favourable viral moment in the world of social media. But we have actually been lucky enough to have had a few positive viral moments during our decade in business. Going viral simply refers to an image, video, advertisement, etc., that is circulated rapidly on the Internet.

We had our first real viral moment with our “Profits of Paddling” image. It was shared hundreds of times and showed up in blogs and on forums world wide – certainly helping to put Badger Paddles on the (paddler’s) map. Another one of our most memorable viral moments was the introduction of our woman portaging sign: GIRLS PORTAGE TOO. Both images were created as “memes” for our followers to like and share.

However, due to their popularity – and your requests – we ended up making t-shirts from both. The GIRLS PORTAGE TOO image became a poster that eventually evolved into PORTAGE QUEEN t-shirts and GIRLS PORTAGE BETTER and decals as well.

There have been other online moments that have helped with Badger’s popularity but these two examples stand out above the rest in our long list of Badger memories.

Memory #5 – The Kids (Who Paddle) Are Alright

In an age where everything is electronic or virtual (computer generated) you can imagine our surprise to have received a handwritten letter from a young paddler from the U.S. He had written in hopes to connect with us before his big paddling event. The fact that Adam Enggasser took the time to write us in person, and send us photos and a link to the video of his competition afterwards, for some reason, touched us deeply.

Perhaps it is the fact our business is based on traditional paddle designs, and the old ways, that his time-honoured method of contact stood out in our minds. Perhaps it was his youthful enthusiasm for paddling and the pride he had in being a canoeist that made the difference. Maybe it was the kind and polite tone of his letter.

Regardless, this young man will forever stand out in our memories as a great moment for Badger knowing that the kids (who paddle) are alright. We sent Adam some Badger swag and our paws are crossed that he still paddles with as much enthusiasm and passion today as he did when he first contacted us!

Memory #4 – The Paddle in the Park Contest

As we mentioned above, we had no idea how much our lives would change for the better when we hit the follow button for Portageur.ca’s Twitter account. And the Paddle in the Park Contest is one of the best examples of that.

We founded the Paddle in the Park Contest in 2013 as a way to get more people out into the backcountry to spend more time in nature. We curated a list of 9[+1] Rewards found in nature and hid a bunch of Badger canoe paddles along undisclosed portage trails in Ontario’s vast wilderness. Those who found a paddle could keep the paddle – plus more gear and prizes.

Incredibly, every paddle was found and claimed. We continued the campaign the following year and in 2015 we added a #PaddlePoints feature to encourage more families to participate. The Paddle in the Park became a fixture every paddling season for 5 years. We took a hiatus in 2018 but were back in 2019 for our 10th anniversary celebrations – giving away over $15,000 in gear and prizes including a custom Nova Craft Canoe and a Swift Kevlar Fusion Prospector!

The number of memories that the Paddle in the Park campaign provided to us in these past years have been some of the best memories ever – far more then we could have ever asked.

A big paddles up and thanks to all the wonderful sponsors who helped to make the Paddle in the Park the best outdoor-advocacy-campaign-disguised-as-a-contest that there ever could be! And thank you to all who have participated over the years and provided us with so many wonderful moments to look back on. It has been a most incredible experience and we are grateful to all who took part in the Paddle in the Park Contest adventure with us!

Memory #4 – On the cover of the Rolling Stone

Okay, maybe not the Rolling Stone but our paddles did get the cover of Muskoka Life magazine and most recently, a Kevin Callan book, which were all pretty big thrills to us. And yes, we did buy at least 4 copies of each for our mamas. 😉 Moreover, our family and paddle business was featured in a multipage spread in Muskoka Magazine in 2012.

But the biggest thrill of all was seeing our paddles incorporated into an art piece by outdoor legend Hap Wilson. Which is way better, in our paddling books, than getting the cover of some old rock ‘n roll magazine. 🙂

Other moments in media that also gave us a thrills were seeing our family pictured in an online feature for Chatelaine and when our paddles were showcased as part of Naturalizer’s store window displays in malls throughout North America. Plus all the times Kevin Callan mentioned us during his many radio and television segments for various networks and shows over the years. Like the first time we heard him make mention of the Paddle in the Park Contest on CBC Radio. And the morning we watched him on CanadaAM when he presented co-host Beverly Thomson with a GIRLS PORTAGE TOO poster.

Oh, and as big fans of the show Canadian Pickers, we were probably a little bit more excited than we should have been when one of our socked paddles with our Badger logo flashed on screen during one episode (where they visited Buckhorn Canoe Company in Ontario).

Not to mention the time Fiona was interviewed on air by Kareen Burns for Hunter’s Bay Radio or when Badger was retweeted by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. All amazing memories to be sure.

Memory #3 – Creative Canoeists

We have built and sold thousands of canoe paddles in the last 10 years. Each paddle was beautiful in its own right. But the ones that stand out the most in our minds are the hundreds of one-of-a-kind canoe paddles that you helped us to create. Every unique idea you bring forth has been inspiring. It seems that the sky is the limit when it comes to personalizing a paddle for propelling you through the water. We can’t even begin to pick a favourite, but here are some that we found to be memorable (at least the ones we could most easily find photos for). 🙂

Memory #2 – For Those Who Dig The Water

From tattoos to Waterloo engineers, from art to flags… we have seen a lot of love for Badger over the years.  Just know that each time you went out paddle-seeking, or when we were depicted in your art, your tags, your mentions, your comments, your photos, your videos, your blogs, your conversations, or your dreams – by any of you – we were totally digging it!

Memory #1 – Kindred (Paddling) Spirits

One thing we did not really anticipate when we first started making canoe paddles 10 years ago, is how many fantastic people we would connect with thru Badger Paddles. Reconnecting, meeting and working with so many kind and wonderful people has become one of the best rewards we have received from Badger Paddles. And we are lucky to be able to count many of you as friends.

Many thanks to Andrea and Hap Wilson for their love and support over the years – you are very special to us. Many thanks to Kevin Callan as well – for his generous heart and for giving us countless entertaining moments and memories to last a lifetime. A special thanks to Preston Ciere, who has helped and supported Badger and our family through so much – we cannot sing his praises enough. When it comes to Badger costumes, he wore it best. He is a true gentleman and the best of the best – probably why Nancy picked him as her portaging partner. Thanks to Daniela and Wolfgang of Corinthian Canoe Base in Austria – for their personal friendship and gracious support as Badger would not have been created without their initial interest in our paddles.

Thanks also to Bill Swift – someone who has been there to support Badger and our family since the before Badger began. As well, thank you to Rich Swift of Algonquin Outfitters, John Gall of Johnny’s Boat Shop, Skip & Lin, Ann Wipper, Scott of Paddling Magazine, Gayle Labuz of Sometimes Eventful, Evan of Traversing, Joyce of Live Outside, Becky Mason, Nathan Miller, Hailey Sontagg, Mike Ranta, Nova Craft Canoe, Killarney Outfitters, Mike Elliot, Portage Promotionals, Sublime Graphics, Dave Wilfong, The Camping Family, Matt of Paddle In, Jeff from Solo Canoe, Camper Christina, Muskoka River X, Chris Hocking, and the Canadian Canoe Museum. Your support and friendship have meant the world to us.

Thanks as well to all our dealers past and present, including Rutabaga, The Canadian Outdoor Equipment Company, Trailhead Paddle Shack, The Complete Paddler, Algonquin Basecamp, London’s Paddle Shop, Kettle River Canoes, Classic Outdoors, Bay Creek, Collinsville Canoe & Kayak, and Swift Outdoor Centres.

We are also grateful to our families for their love and support. Especially Poppa Badger, who continues to share his time and knowledge with us-  and to Gramama, for helping to keep an eye on Makobe when things get busy, which they often do.

There are so many more of you we are grateful for, too many to list. But please know that if we ever built you a paddle or connected with you online or at an event, we have cherished every moment of meeting and working with like-minded people like yourself!

Now that we have taken a look back at the past 10 years, we can’t wait for another decade full of adventure! Happy Canoe Year, everyone! Safe, healthy, and happy travels to all in 2020 and beyond!

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