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Meet Howard Mount, a neuroscientist at the University of Toronto, who has been canoeing with his two children since they were toddlers.

“Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.” –Pierre Trudeau

Using Trudeau’s logic, Dr. Mount and his siblings have been children of nature since before they finished high school. From short loops through Algonquin Park and multi-week adventures around James Bay  with their father to working at summer camps for disadvantaged youth, they’ve been canoeing all their lives, and to this day, they try to take a trip together every fall. Canoe trips make for the most satisfying vacations, Dr. Mount says, because, since you must pay attention to everything while on the water, you’re focused on the present and are able to connect to your family without distractions. The best conversations are often had in a canoe since it’s okay to paddle in silence, so when you do talk, it’s more likely to matter. And so it’s not surprising that Dr. Mount had his own children on the water almost as soon as they could hold a paddle.

In addition to trips with their family, both of Dr. Mount’s children have spent summers at canoe camps and have paddled with their Scouting troops. It’s looking like this next generation will continue their family tradition. As for how to get your children to do so, Dr. Mount recommends casually exposing them to your family’s activity, and ensuring that it’s child-friendly. You can make a game out of it, or add some treats, but it’s most important to just make that activity a normal part of life.

And if it’s canoeing that you want to make a normal part of your children’s lives, Dr. Mount suggests reading Peterborough-based Kevin Callan’s books and checking out his videos, while if it’s general canoeing inspiration you’re after, try watching Bill Mason’s films for the National Film Board.

Image from Howard Mount.

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