Organized adventure sports in Canada began with Canadian River Expeditions in British Columbia in the early 1970’s and Wilderness Tours in Ontario in 1974. Rafting was one of the few adventure activities that had mass appeal. Whitewater kayaking became an Olympic sport at the 1972 Olympics and James Dickey published Deliverance that same year and became a blockbuster movie starring Bert Reynolds. Organized adventure was soon to become “mainstream”.
No pun intended, the rafting industry grew rapidly from Ontario to Quebec and from British Columbia to Alberta.
Whitewater Rafting in Canada began in the early 1970’s in British Columbia and on the Ottawa River in 1974. From just small numbers then to over a hundred thousand rafters within 10 years, the rafting industry exploded as the Baby Boom Generation took to the rivers. Early rafting pioneers like Wilderness Tours, Ottawa River Whitewater Rafting, New World, W-3 and Owl came together in the mid 1980’s to develop operating standards. Those standards were adopted by the Province of Quebec Ministry of Sport. The Ontario government received the regulations but did not officially adopt them because they felt the rafting industry was already doing a good job.
We can’t thank our founding members enough. They had the foresight to overcome differences for the good of the industry and created the Canadian River Council and its land based counterpart, the Canadian Adventure Council. Founding Members were New World, W3, Owl, Wilderness Tours, Equinox and Ottawa River Whitewater Rafting (now River Run).
Because of the more continuous rapids characterizing western rivers versus the pool-drop rives of the east, different standards arose between east and west. Representing the west has been the British Columbia River Outfitters Association, and in the east, the Canadian Rivers Council. Both organizations are dedicated to high standards and professionalism in rafting and kayaking. Many western companies find benefit to belonging to both organizations.
From the beginning, the CRC has been fortunate to have the services of Sean Mannion, an adventure professional since 1976. Sean has been an industry owner and is bilingual. He also provides independent, unannounced inspections for participating member companies. Sean’s latest claim to fame was a deliberate backwards Cat run of right side Lava Fall to have enough power to punch the big hole bottom right. Lava is unnerving enough seeing where you are going. Sean relied on directions from a passenger. It was a perfect run and a credit to a real “pro”. CRC is fortunate to have Sean at the helm.
The future like the past is the advancement of professionalism in adventure sports. On water, under the CRC umbrella and on land or in the air, under the Canadian Adventure Council (CAC). New technologies are creating new adventure sports. Freestyle kayaking is only 20 years old. SUP or Stand Up Paddleboard is becoming extremely popular.