A one-man-force is attempting to accomplish something special and pay homage to Indigenous explorers by making his way across the country by traditional means.
Bert terHart, 63, is making history by paddling and portaging across Canada in a canoe, via the same rivers that the explorers, cartographers, and First Nations people of the past used for millennia.
terHart began his journey on April 1 in Stevenson, B.C. On April 26, he arrived in Revelstoke with his canoe, where he hunkered down for the night before continuing his long journey across the country. The following morning, he pushed his canoe off at the Five Mile Boat Launch and paddled north up Lake Revelstoke.
terHart’s final destination is Big Shippagan Light, New Brunswick, which he hopes to reach by Nov. 15, 2022.
The canoe in which he’s travelling across the country is named ‘Kai Nani’, chosen by his wife – a Polynesian term that translates to synergy or harmony between wind and water.
“For centuries, if not millennia, sections of this route were well known and well travelled by First Nations peoples who thrived in this immense landscape,” said terHart in a post on his website.
“These same peoples guided all of Canada’s early explorers and cartographers over mountains, along rivers and across seemingly endless prairie.”
“I’m looking to gain a better understanding of the relationship that early Canadians had with the rivers, lakes and forests they lived and worked among.”
terHart is an experienced solo sailor and adventurer. In 2020, he became the first North or South American to circumnavigate the globe solo, non-stop, using only traditional navigation tools. He travelled at sea for 265 days and covered approximately 28,860 nautical miles. Only eight other people have ever been recorded making such a trip.
terHart hopes his journey across the country inspires Canadians young and old to live out their own adventures.
He is trying to raise awareness regarding the roles that Indigenous peoples had in creating this country by following traditional routes across the country without electronic navigation.
“In your life, you will hear ‘cannot’ far more often than ‘can.’ It’s too hard. It’s too far. You’re too old. The only yes you need is the one you tell yourself. Give yourself permission to say yes. If you can do that, you can do anything.” said terHart in a press release.
You can follow terHart’s journey through an up-to-date interactive map and photos at www.kainani.ca.