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Kayak Safari celebrates its 20th season

With COVID-19 restrictions easing up and more places being open to the public, the prospect of getting out of the house is getting more and more exciting. Many local tourist hotspots are gearing up for a busy summer. Among them is Huntingdon’s Kayak Safari, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Kayak Safari was started in 2001 by Ian Gill. In 2010 it was sold to Adam Beare and Justin Leduc; eventually Beare took over as primary owner, though Leduc is still involved. The past year-and-a-half has definitely limited what could be offered to the public; however, they are happy to announce that all of their services are back this summer.

 

Kayak Safari is celebrating a return to normal services this summer just in time for its 20th season PHOTO Kayak Safari

 

Beare explains that this year, “We have kayaking in the park, which is kayaking upstream and then coming back to where you started. You’re free to go up and down the river as you please. It’s based more on an hourly basis.” On top of this, they are back to offering routes that include one-way transportation: “We’re offering the Athlestan route, where you get brought up the river first [by road vehicle] and then you come kayaking down towards Huntingdon. The last service we are offering is the Dewittville route where you start in town and then you would finish in Dewittville and then we do the transportation of the kayak at the end and bring you back to town.” They have single and double kayaks available, as well as stand-up paddle boards, though these are in high demand and reservations are recommended.

Last year they were definitely nervous about how to manage the provision of services to clients. “[As for] anyone, it was all new back in the spring of 2020. We weren’t really sure how, or if, we were going to open.” Because the business largely relies on enclosed transportation services, safety regulations were severely limiting. However, the town generously offered support and the business was able to remain partially open. Beare credits Huntingdon for all of the help received: “The town was nice enough to help us come up with a solution to start the route in the park and just go up and down and finish there. People were just looking for something to do and they understood the situation. It was hard to get going but once we did, we were rolling.” He is very appreciative for the support he was given.

Unique local businesses like this are essential to the community. Beare says that the people who were most excited about Kayak Safari remaining open were the students who are employed there; such businesses provide job opportunities for young people.

Beare also emphasizes why supporting local businesses is so important to him as a consumer: “It is getting tougher and tougher, because so many other convenient options are presented to us. But we have to do what we can. I’ve lived in Sherbrooke, in Montreal and now I’m in Ste Hyacinthe. But I always come back home to do any vehicle maintenance, [for] eye doctor appointments, dentist, grocery shopping.” He reasons that “If we want to see this community keep growing, this is the way we have to go. So, it is incredibly important to me. I want to move back here one day. I want to be able to have all the services you can get in any town.”

Though there will be no big blowout bash to celebrate Kayak Safari’s 20th season, owners and staff are just happy to be open and back to (almost) normal. Beare concludes, “There were some moments we didn’t think we were going to open, but here we are 20 years later. And I think it’s well-known across Quebec that kayaking in the town of Huntingdon is great. It’s something to hang our hats on.”

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