History of the Club


Canoe and Kayak Racing was the original focus of the early Windsor Canoe Club. Two canoe racers and one kayak racer began to meet at the many sanctioned race events hosted across Ontario by the Ontario Marathon Canoe and Kayak Racing Association. These three local paddlers began to notice many of the top competitors were from the Windsor region. By 1976 the idea of forming a local club became a reality when the original three invited all the area racers to the first meeting of the Windsor Canoe Club. 

Local racers had always competed independently, sometimes against long established clubs from other cities and had done very well. At one of the larger race events of the 1976 Ontario race circuit Windsor area paddlers won almost every class category and many other clubs started to notice. In fact, many other clubs ask why Windsor did not have a club.

The enthusiasm for canoe and kayak racing was still very strong in much of Canada at the time thanks to the success and publicity of the 1967 Voyageur Canoe Race across Canada from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta to Montreal as a celebration of Canada’s 100th birthday and our historic link to the canoe and paddling. The canoe used was a reproduction of a six person North Canoe that had been used to open the vast Northwest Territories of Canada beyond Lake Superior.

North Canoe Team Racing became a hit with the new Windsor Club in the late 1970’s. Many Ontario events hosted a North Canoe Race class. Teams from Windsor also won Voyageur Canoe events in Indiana and Michigan. At its zenith the area boasted seven north canoe teams and canoes.

Seven Race events were hosted in the region and supported by the club. The premier event was the Freedom Festival Canoe and Kayak Races on the Detroit River. The Freedom Festival also hosted the North American Voyageur North Canoe Racing Championships for eleven years. Other local races included: The River Canard Canoe and Kayak Race, The Old Saulk Trail Canoe and Kayak Race from LaSalle to Amherstburg, The Cedar Creek Classic, The Canada South Winter Kayak Challenge held on the Detroit River in February and the fun Pumpkin Head Kayak Race around Peche Island for Halloween.  

In 1979 the club started the logical process of incorporation and in 1981 the Windsor Canoe Club was incorporated as a non-profit organization. The name was changed to be inclusive of the Essex County members in the 1990’s.

The Windsor club had early links to the modern sea kayak that had been developed in 1975. These modern designs started a new craze of big open water and coastal adventuring that suited area waterways. The first modern sea kayaks were seen on the Detroit River by 1978-79.

The club purchased a 16-person Montreal Voyageur Canoe in the early 1980’s. In 1981 sixteen club paddlers pulled a water-skier from the pier under the Ambassador Bridge upriver to Dieppe Park. Windsor also produced some of the best Ice Canoe Racers in Canada and the club was represented well during the huge event in Quebec City.

The focus has shifted away from racing and is now geared to recreation and safety. 

The Windsor Essex County Canoe Club is one of the fastest growing paddling organizations with a very active list of fun events and programs. Join in.