Man who swam Fraser River now guides young adults on famed waterway

Fin Donnelly knows a thing or two about the mighty Fraser River.

And the man who in 1995 swam 1,370 kilometres down the Fraser River to bring awareness to the precarious state of the famed waterway, and promote sustainable living, is again navigating the Fraser.

But this time it is with seven young adults who have been picked for the Rivershed Society of B.C.’s Sustainable Living Leadership Program.

The group is heading north this week to prepare to follow the route of the salmon from the Fraser River’s headwaters close to Mount Robson all the way to Vancouver.

The unique leadership program was started in 2002 and this is the 11th time that a group of selected high achievers will journey down the Fraser.

The will take 25 days travelling by canoe, raft, shuttle van and foot to cover the 1,400-km trip down the river to Vancouver.

Participants were asked to submit an essay about their interest in the Fraser along with a community project idea they would like to undertake upon completion of their Fraser River odyssey.

“It is a community leadership program and we do look for very motivated individuals,” said Donnelly, who founded the Rivershed Society and worked as its executive director for 13 years before entering politics. He has been the NDP MP for New Westminster-Coquitlam-Port Moody since 2009 and is the deputy critic for Fisheries and Oceans (Pacific).

“It is not easy,” he said of the journey that can often be plagued by swarms of bugs and unpredictable weather, especially in the Mount Robson area. “It is intense and tiring and you and your gear are moving each day.”

Among the biggest things people take away from the trip is an understanding of the history of the river, notes Donnelly.

“The river is full of stories ... you go through 10 of B.C.’s 14 biogeoclimactic zones,” said Donnelly. “It is one of the most diverse river basins in North America.

“We do call it a trip of a lifetime. It really is a life-changing trip for these participants.”

The seven selected candidates this yeart are: Lori Eaton, Prince George; Alex Ensworth, Port Coquitlam; Katie Furness-Moore, Port Coquitlam; Leigh Herbert, Enderby; Orden Mack, Williams Lake; Natalya Meinychuk, Sorrento; and Gabriela Perez, Montreal.

Ensworth, taking a brake from packing on Monday, said he will collaborate with Furness-Moore to compile a photo journal of shots taken on the journey, with any profits going to the Rivershed Society and the Fraser River Discovery Centre in New Westminster, if they get the book published.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “It is going to be such an amazing trip.”

As for the weather and bugs on the trip, Ensworth said he’s prepared for anything: “I’m not too worried about the weather. Sun would be nice, but you get what you get.”

article continues below

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Times Colonist welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

Find out what's happening in your community.

Most Popular