The Dream Starts in Nipigon on Friday!

NIPIGON – Nipigon is opening the Paddle-to-the-Sea Park for its first full season this Friday, May 14th, 2010 at 12pm. Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey shares, “The Paddle-to-the-Sea Park enhances Nipigon as an essential destination for visitors to Northern Ontario, and highlights the world class fishing, boating, and outdoor adventure opportunities for tourists in Canada’s largest marine protected area.”

The effort is the result of a great deal of effort and co-operation from the Nipigon, provincial and federal governments.

“Our Government is proud of its $1.5 million investment in Nipigon’s Paddle to the Sea Park,” said Tony Clement, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for FedNor. “This initiative will help the region to create a sustainable, competitive advantage in the tourism industry, attracting visitors and increasing employment opportunities.”

“I’m really excited to see the “Paddle-to-the-Sea” project complete and ready to be shared with the world. This park will give visitors a true Northwestern Ontario experience. It couldn’t have been achieved without the dedication of the community itself and all the volunteers who have put their hearts into this project. I’m proud that the Ontario Trillium Foundation made such an important contribution to bringing a world-class tourism attraction to Nipigon,” stated Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle.

Community volunteers in Nipigon have dedicated 10 years to building the interactive Paddle-to-the-Sea Park in our small town because the famous story of Paddle-to-the-Sea starts on the Nipigon River. In the story, a young Indian boy who dreams of visiting the ocean carves a wooden canoe, or ‘paddle-person’, who travels the Great Lakes and reaches the sea in his stead. The story inspired Canadian canoeist and film maker Bill Mason to create the celebrated National Film Board film of the same name. The award

winning book was written in 1941 by Holling C. Holling who visited Nipigon before putting ink to the page.

On Friday, more than 100 children will enjoy outdoor activities based on the 12 interactive playground stations that make up the park. Activities will be presented by the Ministry of Natural Resources, The Nipigon Historical Museum, and local Geo-caching enthusiasts. Smokey the Bear will even be on the scene to share fire safety tips!

The winners of a ‘Dare to Dream’ art project will be announced. Local community members and Thunder Bay residents drew and painted their own dreams to share at the opening. Entries include dreams such as “…to Travel the World”, “…to become a conservation officer”, “… to be an author”, “to be a professional ballet dancer” and “…finding the end of the rainbow”.

The entire project could not have happened without support from its many sponsors.

“On behalf of the Red Rock Indian Band and our citizens we would like to congratulate the Township of Nipigon on the Grand Opening of the Paddle-to-the-Sea Park. This is as a positive step forward in enhancing the economy in our area and although there have been economic hardships in our region this proves that accomplishments can prevail. As they say, “The greatest accomplishment is not, in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.” Once again, we would like to say congratulations and good luck Nipigon!’ – Chief Pierre Pelletier and Red Rock Indian Band Council.

Paul Mason shares, “Thought I’d offer a few behind the scenes comments about the ‘Paddle to the Sea’ film. The first 6 paddle models used in the film were hand carved… my father Bill and his assistant Blake James were losing them so quickly that they resorted to molding some out of foam for the scenes requiring stunt canoes. In the scene where I show paddle to the sea to my dog, he takes such an interest in paddle because of some strategic peanut butter applied to paddle. For the close up shots of paddle running rapids, he was tethered to a camera floating on inner tubes. Paddle to the Sea was Bill Mason’s first film, and his first film for the National Film Board”.

“TransCanada recognizes what it means to be a good neighbour,” says Dan Stencil, Aboriginal & Community Relations Liaison, TransCanada. “We are always looking for ways to lend a hand as we build better and stronger communities together. This initiative reflects our values of lifelong learning, innovation and collaboration and we are proud to be a sponsor of the Paddle to the Sea Park initiative.”

“Ontario Power Generation is pleased to support the Paddle to the Sea Project and this exciting Grand Opening Event. As a proud member of the community, we recognize the importance of this major heritage and tourism initiative and join with other community members in celebrating its official launch,” comments Mike Martelli, Manager Northwest Plant Group (Hydroelectric) Ontario Power Generation.