The Canadian Rangers rise to a unique challenge

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Cargo Canoe Trip from Northern Ontario to Ottawa

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A group of Canadian Rangers from the Far North of Ontario made a unique 750 kilometer cargo canoe trip from Parry Sound to Ottawa in recognition of 2022 as the Year of the Rangers.

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“This mission was a remarkable success,” said Major Charles Ohlke, the expedition leader.

The Rangers, which are part-time army reservists, were founded in 1947 and serve in remote and isolated First Nations communities across Canada’s North, including Attawapiskat, Fort Albany and Kashechewan. They are celebrating the 75th anniversary of their founding.

There are 600 Rangers in 29 First Nations in the Far North of Ontario. The teams that made up the trip from Parry Sound to Ottawa were made up of 32 Rangers from 15 of these remote communities.

They traveled by canoe from Fort Albany and Kashechewan, two First Nations in James Bay. The 24ft craft, powered by outboard motors, traveled to Parry Sound along river routes and made a similar journey at the end of the celebratory mission. They traveled a total of 1,650 kilometers.

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“I felt completely ecstatic when they arrived in Ottawa,” the lieutenant-colonel said. Shane McArthur, commander of the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, which commands the Ontario Rangers.

In Ontario, Rangers save lives during search and rescue operations, help evacuate wildfires and floods, help prevent suicides and provide support in other emergencies. They run the Junior Canadian Rangers, a successful army youth program for 12-18 year olds.

“I’m proud of my Rangers and all they’ve accomplished in the North and during this exercise,” said Lt. Col. McArthur said.

During the 13-day, 750-kilometre journey from Parry Sound to Ottawa, the Rangers crossed Georgian Bay, skirted the Trent-Severn Canal, Lake Ontario and the Rideau Canal, before reaching the Ottawa River, two of the 88 waterway locks. they passed through Peterborough Lock and the Big Chute Marine Railway near Port Severn. At 65 feet, Peterborough Lock is the tallest hydraulic lock in the world. Big Chute is almost as tall.

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Ranger cargo boats atop Peterborough Lock on the Trent Canal at 66ft, the world's tallest hydraulic lock.Supplied/Canadian Rangers
Ranger cargo boats atop Peterborough Lock on the Trent Canal at 66ft, the world’s tallest hydraulic lock.Supplied/Canadian Rangers jpg, TD

“Rangers had an amazing time,” Major Ohlke said. “They live in the wilderness of Northern Ontario and in many cases had never seen a lock or a buoy before. It was all a great new experience for many of them.

“What I saw on the rivers, the locks, the different canals, is very different from what I saw in the North,” said Cpl. George Edwards of Fort Albany, a remote community in James Bay, 975 kilometers north of Toronto. “It’s the first time I’ve done something like this in my life. I was in shock when we arrived at Big Chute. I was nervous going so high.

“I had a fabulous time,” said the cap. Jean Rabbit-Waboose of Eabametoong, a remote Ojibwe community 370 kilometers north of Thunder Bay. “It was an adventure. When I get home I will say that I had a truly amazing trip and learned a lot of new things that will make me a better Ranger.

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As well as being an enjoyable experience, the trip was an important training exercise, Maj. Ohlke said, teaching the Rangers how to work with Rangers from different communities and travel safely. It was also an opportunity to offer them training in first aid, for example.

But this could not have been done without the tremendous support of the 3CRPG Headquarters Staff at Canadian Forces Base Borden.

“They did an outstanding job,” the lieutenant colonel said. McArthur said. “They showed an exceptional ability to organize, plan and execute a very complex mission. It took quite an effort on the part of the unit to achieve this.

A support team of up to 11 troops traveled by vehicle to provide fuel, food, hot evening meals, and repairs to boats and engines.

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Rangers camped each night in tents along the waterways they traveled on.

One of the Rangers’ biggest challenges was keeping to the frequent 10-kilometer-per-hour speed limits. In the northern wilderness, they usually move at 20 to 30 km/h. The slower speeds allowed them to chat with curious onlookers and fellow boaters.

“Their interactions with people were great,” the Lt. Col. said. McArthur said. “People lined up to ask them questions. We deliberately came south for the opportunity to interact with ordinary Canadians who otherwise would not know who we are in Northern Ontario and what we do there.

“The Northern Ontario Rangers have provided years of exceptional service to Canada.

sergeant. Peter Moon is a Ranger with 3CRPG at CFB Borden.

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