Voyagers plan to land canoes on Monday

Bicentennial re-enactors invite public to take rides

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter



Free canoe rides

• Members of the 2011 David Thompson Columbia River Brigade will offer free canoe rides to the public Monday afternoon at Vancouver’s Marine Park, just off Columbia Way at Marine Park Way. Rides will start about 30 minutes after the brigade’s arrival, which is scheduled for 4 p.m.

• Children must be at least 6 years old, and those younger than 12 should be accompanied in the canoe by a parent. Participants must sign insurance waivers; the brigade will provide life jackets. Organizers expect to offer rides until at least 6:30 p.m.

• You can track the progress of the brigade at

Marine Park

A hundred or so modern-day voyagers will arrive Monday in Vancouver after five weeks on the Columbia River.

Canoes carrying members of the 2011 David Thompson Columbia River Brigade are scheduled to arrive at Marine Park at 4 p.m. as they approach the end of their 1,040-mile adventure.

The brigade expects to reach the Pacific Coast at Astoria, Ore., on Saturday.

“That’s 200 years to the day after David Thompson reached Astoria,” said Ross MacDonald, chairman of the brigade.

The event commemorates the 1811 voyage by the fur trader, explorer and mapmaker who was the first person known to navigate the entire length of the Columbia River.

The brigade includes people who identify with different aspects of Thompson’s journey, including canoeists and history buffs as well as surveyors.

Local surveyors will help out during the brigade’s Vancouver stop as a salute to Thompson.

“He worked as a surveyor and he surveyed part of the boundary between the United States and Canada,” said Howard Richardson, with Olson Engineering of Vancouver.

Richardson is a member of the Lower Columbia Chapter of the Land Surveyors’ Association of Washington.

People who greet the brigade can expect to see eight or nine canoes pulling in, MacDonald said, depending on the wind. If they’re going into a strong wind, they’ll put a couple of extra people in each canoe to provide more paddling power.

In addition to offering canoe rides Monday, the brigade will have displays representing surveying and fur-trading in 1811.

“All told, there have been more than 200 participants in the brigade,” MacDonald said. “Some do a week at a time, around their holidays. We’ve had aboriginal teams from First Nations and professional canoe racers.”

Since leaving Canal Flats, B.C., on June 3, the brigade has averaged about 30 miles a day.

“The water has been high, so we haven’t seen much in the way of rapids,” MacDonald said. The high water also meant that “some of our landing sites have changed, and we’ve moved some campsites to higher ground.”

The brigade will also be here Tuesday for a day off.

“On Tuesday, people can come in and talk with us,” MacDonald said. “But it’s a laundry day, so there will be no displays and no rides.”

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558 or