Mike Ranta's Cross-Canada Paddle Complete | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
Mike Ranta's Cross-Canada Paddle Complete Courtesy: Mike Ranta's Paddle Facebook Page

After seven months and 7,500 kilometres, cross-Canada paddler Mike Ranta has completed his trip near Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, about 300 kilometers short of his goal of Cape Breton. He will submit an official application for Longest Solo Canoe Trip in a Single Season to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Ranta was born and raised in the small Ontario town of Atikokan, a town which promotes itself as the Canoeing Capital of Canada. Fitting then, that a man who was born and raised in the Canoeing Capital of Canada, would set out in a canoe on a journey to inspire Atikokan youth and have an adventure in the only way he knew how — on the water.

“I’ve been a paddler my whole life in Atikokan, and explored the area ever since I can remember,” says Ranta. “Though I can’t remember the first time I was in a canoe, ‘cause I was too young, I’ve always felt comfortable in one.”

It was from those humble beginnings and his first voyages in a canoe as a young man, that led Ranta to paddle from Alberta to Montreal in 2011. The following year he started to plan this even more ambitious trip.

Ranta didn't complete this journey alone, his dog and best friend, Spitzii, a Finnish purebred Spitz, sat in the bow of the canoe. “He’s his own dog, he tells me more than I tell him in most cases. I couldn’t have done this trip without him. We’re an unbeatable team that loves each other unconditionally. He’s truly my best friend," says Ranta.

“He loves canoeing and I have no problem getting him in the canoe unless he thinks its unsafe. If he won’t get in, I wait, and it’s usually for a good reason. I trust his instincts over mine and have relied on them many times. He’s been in the canoe since he was six weeks old, and loves it," he adds.

Ranta drew his inspiration for his voyage from four men from Atikokan: Don Meany, Geoff and William Peruniak and Norm Jewett. They paddled from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta to Montreal in 1967 as part of the Centennial Canoe Race, the world’s longest canoe race. “They are legendary paddlers in my hometown,” Ranta says, “I’m also inspired by my old boxing coach, Bobby Davidson, and of course my father.”

Ranta's journey began on April 1st, as he made his tentative first strokes in Vancouver’s Fraser River. His initial strokes are captured in a self-filmed video posted on his Youtube channel, AtikokanYouth.

“I did this journey to inspire the youth of our town to follow their dreams and go for gold, so to speak. Believe in yourself and don’t worry about making mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Always look forward and stay positive in life," says Ranta.

That advice is something that Ranta lives up to himself. He had acquired sponsorships from a number of large companies before the trip. “There was even going to be a television show and everything,” he tells me. Unfortunately, some sponsorship was pulled a few days before he was due to depart.

That left Ranta to do the trip largely unsupported, but his resolve was unwavering. “Even when some sponsors backed out at the last minute I learned that it was their lack of confidence that made that decision, not mine. They simply did not know who was behind the paddle. It was a financial decision based on length of trip, and seeing how ambitious it is they thought it couldn't be done. I believe they are kicking themselves now, eh!”

Mike’s incredible journey ended on October 31st, as he paddled into Tatamagouche, falling just 277 kilometers short of Cape Breton.


Jack Hawkins is a freelance writer and touring cyclist from New Brunswick, Canada. He writes articles for various publications. When he's not writing up a story, he's usually on his bike. Find him online here

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