It was with a heavy heart that I received news of Jim
from a friend who had forwarded me the message from
WCA's Anne Bradley :
with much sadness that I am informing you that Jim Morris, a long-time
member and whitewater mentor/instructor of the WCA
passed away on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 in Orillia.
be remembered by many current members of the WCA.
taught the Whitewater beginner’s course at Palmer Rapids for
some 20 years. During that time he was instrumental in starting over
400 WCA members on their whitewater adventures...."
My story of
Jim begain about a year prior to me meeting Jim for the
I had canoed lakes for over a decade
but was humbled, in the year 2000, on an aborted Madawaska river trip
early May. Rivers alone were a mystery and a river in full flood
conditions was downright scary. Given our rudimentary river
skills, we were fortunate to have upset early and ended up in the safer
confines of Palmer rapids. Our attire reflected our experience and we
that there was only so much insulation value in the nylon
K-way shells that we wore...fast forward one year later to our meeting
Palmer Rapid "Whitewater" Canoe Class
whitewater canoe course in June 2001 to members of the WCA
along with his close friend Hugh. He had been doing so for about
the last 15 years. and there are some things that are better
understood "by doing" despite the best efforts put forth by
Bill Mason in his classic book "Path of the Paddle". A year earlier, it
provided enough lingo to convince the people renting the canoes to us
that we knew what we were doing and could be trusted to return their
boats (and us) in reasonable shape....
class of 2001
numbered fourteen and the year was marked by exceptionally high water
levels such that the far left bank ("river left") of Palmer seemed to
be in full
flood.. Some of the class met up with Jim and Hugh on the Friday night.
Jim and Hugh meeting up with some of their eager students ("click
any of pics to enlarge" ) before and after putting on their
Jim doing his thing with his ever oblidging volunteer wooden canoe
figurine leading the class
Jim with a student and looking out for stray boats at the
of Palmer on "exam Rapids". He's probably reminding people to stay to
the left and to "back paddle !!!!"
A plethora of boats, newly indoctrinated students,
dragonflies, and great fun
Jim and Hugh (above) celebrating at the end of class with
a beer and the imminent arrival of steaks cooked on Hugh's custom BBQ
Over the course of dinner, the class rested and discussed their day and
problems on the river that day. Jim was all ears and as he seemed in
the canoe, sharing his element with people he had just met. With
kindred spirits, numerous stories flowed from him that night lit by a
One particular story was his involvement in the
early days leading up to the exploding growth cross-country skiing. In
the late seventies, most of us had seen almost a decade of PARTICIPACTION
commercials reminding us about the fitness of the average 70 year old
Swede compared to a 30 year old Canadian. A friend of Jim's started up
classes to teach cross-country skiing and needed a hand to cope with a
large turnout of people wanting to participate in an upcoming
weekend...in part due to some recent x-skiing articles in the papers.
Jim's answer was
"I don't know the first thing about cross
A few minutes later, he offered
"...at least I have a week's more experience
than the people I be teaching"
Though we had just met Jim the night before, I
think everyone knew before he looked up, glanced around, smiled
comically, and said
"Well, why not!"
He was a natural leader in comfort of the
outdoors and gravitated towards these sorts of activities.
It was with these river skills my friend Oswin
and I (Ray) took on an
early spring trip to the mightly Dumoine river...some
4 years after Jim/Hugh's introductory course. Out of a group of 8
canoeist, we would have been the only ones not to upset except for
following orders of a more experienced boat instructing us to "follow
their lead"...right down the hole that engulfed our boat. To this day,
I can say that the "old
school" use of the back paddle is a thing of beauty that Jim and Hugh
had blessed us with.
those 400 or more students today on
Wednesday March 21 in thanking Jim and having the good fortune to
cross paths with him as a student on the river.
Well done, Jim, well
P.S. If you have a favourite picture of
Jim you like to include on this page, send it to me by email to the
With mild lingering effects of a pinched nerve...what better remedy than to get on a river full of current.I got wind of a Credit River (ultimately from Jim )on the April 1 weekend.
Rounded up five employess from AMD (nee ATI) who fit the category of
"can't wait" and a plan was hatched. Saturday morning started off
as "brisk" at 9AM with an early morning house move.
The put-in was just north of Eglington Aveneue with 20 or so boats
with their accompanying canoeist...some with astro-equipped boating wear and two donning shorts.
The pics below are from the link above
from Boatworks. They can be clicked on for better resolution.
Linda set the boats off about 2 minutes apart. The black grahpite
C1 boats set out 4 minutes after us and passed up as we were practising
a front ferry (during a race). Our boat is one of the two green
boats (left of the red boats getting ready in the photo below). A
very blurry JPG was extracted from an MPG movie of us tagging along
behind the graphite speedster. The last photo of the kayaker was Oswin
practising his MKC grooved strokes on Jim's kayak.
(click to enlarge)
Credit River 2014
Pic of start and canoe upset (click for larger image)
This year's "race" was run a smidgeon of competitive fire. Of the three rivers
that run into Lake Ontario (others being Humber and Don river), the
is the most pristine. I've seen a bald eagle on it and many fly
fisherman practice their craft in the spring. The water was flowing fast and
eddy behind the rock was smaller than normal with flow
3.07 m3/sec at the 1pm launch.
Have a look at the write-up of
the final results...there are a
couple of names on it that will surprise you. For more info on the
river rescue, have
a look here at Jeff's first hand account.
Oswin reminded me of this "chance" to run the Credit River the night
before the annual race held on Saturday April 5, 2014.
My hesitation in answering were due to the forecast for
cold weather that morning...I actually saw dusts of snow
around 8am the morning of...brrrrrrr!
The decision to meet at the bottom of the run was changed
about 1/2 way to a rendez-vous, by a call, to save time
we would meet at the top of the river: Retrieving our
boat was a matter for after the finish.
The first time in the water is always fun but the trick is to
not get cold and that means NOT UPSETTING.
We found ourselves to me the last crew to line up for
the launch. Ahead of
us were two other boats with one just about to launch:
Oswin ran down to have a look and I followed to scout
the first section: Superstion and old habits rule.
About a 100 yards a diagonal wave
sent the boat off at about a 45 angle to the left bank.
Another 80 years was a bend that funnelled
current to the left of the apex located under the bridge.
We were to find out about 10
minutes later that this boat would upset (see river rescue link, above).
Our friend, Jim Mark, was found to be there in the midst of a boat
extraction. Things seem to be in control but we later found out that the
boat took 1/2 an hour to remove from a clump of weeds/roots that
had attached to the boat from below.
There were a few bends in the river that were handled by having us
renew out ever counter-intuitive "back paddle" and the pointing of the boat at
the thing you are trying to miss. Unlike years before where we
peeled behind sizeable rock to get the "feel" for "tilt",
we opted to not try this It was looking more like a
race than a tune-up.
manouveur until the takeout at the very end. It was looking more like a
race than a tune-up.
Have a read of the "pdf" link, above,
before clicking to find our FINISH result.
A pic of traditional the award table
shows one couple with golden results:
In the photograph, you can see the mixed C-2 winners, Michelle and Matt,
in matching orange ...their time
would have given them silver in the men's C-2 grouping.
We missed the silver by 45 seconds...4 sets of back paddling will do that!!!