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Paddle Film Festival coming to the Opera House

March 2, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Canoe North Adventures is hosting the 2023 Real Paddling Film Festival on Sunday (Mar. 5) at the Opera House (87 Broadway). 

The Citizen took the opportunity to talk to the M.C for this event, Canoe North Adventures’ own son of the house, Taylor Pace. The business is located at 307114 Hockley Road and is also home to Farmhouse Pottery, which features Alan Pace’s beautiful pottery collection.

This used to be an annual event, and now we’re back with it,” he said. “Hopefully to continue to host it annually from this every year, as we did for the first time in 2019. After that, Covid shut everything down.”

While Rapid Media “has been showcasing the very best paddling films” since 2006, as the Paddling Film Festival World Tour, the films chosen for the event this year are primarily from Canada and the United States. Rapid Media takes a collection of films of various paddling adventures and stories related to paddling.

“There are all sorts of different paddling adventures,” said Mr. Pace. “Mostly, they are in documentary form. Some a little more close to home; sometimes, someone is doing a 30-day voyage across Alaska.

“Some are extreme adventures; others are more relaxed.”

Because the point is to demonstrate the pleasure and the accessibility of padding, there has been a tendency to include films that are “a little less crazy.”

Canoe North took on the hosting role of the Film Festival in 2019 as Mr. Pace commented, “We wanted to give back to the paddling community; we just wanted to bring attention to the community of how much fun paddling is.”

The plan was for Canoe North to continue as host from 2019 after Taylor Pace attended the festival in Orangeville before that year, “We wanted to to keep doing this but Covid shut everything and now we’re hoping to keep doing it.”

The role of host comes with each town across Canada and the US as the travelling film festival is welcomed.

“We’re just one of the hosts,” Mr. Pace elucidated. “We’re the hosts here in Orangeville.”

The business of touring mainly people from Ontario across the exotic wilderness of Canada’s northern lands by canoe, on trips that last several days, clearly means that fine films of those trips are created too and Mr. Pace let us know that Canoe North will be premiering one of their short films and Canoe North Adventures as well but definitely not as the main focus of the festival.

At other times, the company does do presentations of their trips past and planned ahead at their store on Hockley Road and at the Barrie Canoe and Kayak Club to promote and encourage interested persons to sign up for one or the other of their packages. Such an adventure generally requires some paddling training, which is offered by the training relationship Canoe North has developed with the Paddler Co-op at Madawaska Kanu Centre in Barry’s Bay.

Taylor Pace’s life as an adventurer began very early when his parents, Al Pace and Lin Ward, took him canoeing in the northern places they loved so much. Writing about their holidays in the north was soon followed by people wanting to join them, and this was the beginning of the travelling north as a business.

Early on in his life, Taylor Pace was interested in the theatre, starting his career at Theatre Orangeville until his mid-twenties.

“It was a good time,” he reflected. “but theatre wasn’t going to be my full time career.”

At that point, he returned to work in the family business. He did the college training to become a guide and has taken groups to “Broken Skull, Nahanni Canyons, Nahanni 6-Day, each a few times,” he told the Citizen.

“So far, so good,” he confirmed about his life during our conversation, “All those trips up north. I feel pretty lucky to live the life I do.”

Some of the films at this festival will tell us more about places up north to adventure. So, we asked Mr. Pace about the changes he has seen over his own years of travelling and guiding people there.

“The biggest change I’ve seen is people are more aware of increased interest in being out of doors, for sure because of covid, that was the only place we could go. They are more focused on the indigenous regions and more focused on the environment. There is an overall awareness. People still go for fun but also to learn more about the region and how it’s doing as well.”

This Paddling Film Festival is for everybody and anyone could come and really enjoy the films, he assured us. Anyone who enjoys being outdoors would have a good time watching them.

“You don’t have to be a paddler to enjoy these films,” the MC is sure.

He said, “I think that we come from a history of exploration as a country and paddling is an incredible Canadian thing to do. The wild places deserve exposure [to understand their importance] and acknowledging that, that adventure is still happening – and this is a chance to know about it from the comfort of the theatre.”

The show begins at 10:30 a.m. and runs until 2:00 p.m. at the Town Hall Opera House (87 Broadway). The festival showing is on Mar. 5. There will door prizes and refreshments after. 

To purchase tickets, go to and scroll down to find the link to Theatre Orangeville, where seat choice and ticket purchase are available. Or call the theatre box office at 519-942-3423.

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