Saturday, 15 August 2015

Canoë and Company

Treated like family at the Missisquoi River

reviewed by Nancy Snipper

Kayak and canoe rentals from caring, down-to-earth owners

Now 12 years old, Canoë & Company is a gem of a place run by an exceptionally hard-working family. Rustic, without pretension and as homey as the people who run it – owners François Turcotte and partner Rachel Revesencio – Canoë and Company is no ordinary canoe/kayak rental business. No wonder it’s rated #1 on Trip Advisor.
Undoubtedly, its genuinely friendly family clan – Francois’ father, Yvan is instrumental in making it happen along with Francois’ cousin and waif-like Marie-Eve  who’s as strong as Heracles and as happy as a bird over water.

Only 20 minutes away from Sutton, Quebec, Canoë & Co. nestles in a cozy spot along the lush banks of the Missisquoi River. At its country-style unobtrusive counter, you’ll meet these special people who give you hands-on help and ensure you are taken to the spot where your adventure begins.  Choose your mode of gliding down its gentle waters, and François, together with his uncle and cousin will load up the vessels and transport you in the company’s canoes to key areas in the Missisquoi River to do a 10 or 15-kilometre trip.

I marvelled at the incredible dedication and rigorous tasks François is up against. Imagine picking up these quality canoes and kayaks by yourself and loading them on the transport vehicle. Yes he gets some help, but I watched him also do it himself – pretty impressive considering that he has a bum knee caused by a ski accident. He wasn’t going to let that stop him from getting close-up and personal with canoe-lifting and the manual labour involved in keeping every single boat spanking clean and in top-top shape.
My canoe partner was 10-year-old André. He took the bow. I was leery when François told me I was going with him, but he knows the river like the fish in it. In fact, André was better company than any adult I could have paired up with. He was quiet, focused and a strong paddler. He was attuned to his surroundings – even liked to pause with his paddle above water to contemplate the scene. He pointed to a mink scurrying into a riverbank hole, which I otherwise would have missed. Quiet and introspective, this grand guide of small stature won my trust. And I needed that when we came to the rapids. The first one was a cinch, but the second one had a huge boulder rising out of the water and the water was swirling around it fast. Fortunately, we made a great paddling pair, and while two older kayakers revealed they actually tipped, we came through it swimmingly. I liked that part as it added contrast to the gentle flow of the water that meanders down the Missisquoi.

The trees were enormous as they bowed nobly above us, and the banks seemed to be built up with grey clay. Although there was not much bird life, the heron that usually appears did not that day. Still, I felt a sublime peace experiencing this river, and I am so glad I did with Canoë and Company.

Its a home-spun paddling place that attracts interesting folks from all over the world. I met François Filion who runs a school of survival in Manitou. He offers techniques used by our forest ancestors to build shelters and make a fire. His courses are in French and take place in the Eastern Townships. ( he actually gave me a lesson in the “mating’ pattern of the wild snap dragon which has distinct reproductive apparatuses in both sexes whose forms emulate ours. He certainly knew a lot about the real “birds and the bees”.
Indeed, my day at Canoë & Company was full of spirited folk with a love the land and water; they want to share it with you.

Book with Canoe & Co. from May until end of October.
Several departures per day.
Their website is: Call: 1 450 538-4052 or email them a:

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