HUT! March 1992
by Dale and Laura Eggert
A location with 4,000 square miles of water, 11,352 lakes, 25,000 miles
of rivers, and 141,980 registered canoes and kayaks. A paddler’s dream. Yes,
this Is Minnesota and the Minnesota Canoe Association (MCA). The MCA was
founded in 1966 to promote the principle that “canoeing is a sport that should
be shared with anyone who loves the water and the quiet serenity of the
Outdoors.” The association was formed by Betty and Karl Ketter, Eugene Jensen,
and others to support the above principle and promote canoe racing and the art
of canoe building and design.
Over the years, the members have created a number of canoe designs for
all types of paddling. One of Mad River’s most popular cruising canoes is based
on a design created by a team of MCA members. Currently the MCA offers canoe
plans for about 15 different woodstrlp canoes and kayaks and detailed,
step-by-step instructions on building woodstrip and fiberglass craft. Other
activities in the building area are an annual builders' show and banquet, a
“best boat” competition at the annual Fall Color Cruise, low-cost building
supplies for members, and annual winter canoe construction projects.
In addition to the building activities, the MCA is an umbrella
organization for 12 paddling clubs that represent varied
interests and locations in Minnesota and parts of Canada. These clubs
represent interest groups such as kayak touring, racing, voyageur cruising,
whitewater, and dragon boat racing. In 1990, the MCA became international with
the addition of the Thunder Bay (Ontario)
Kayak and Canoe Club.
The Thunder Bay club was formed in 1980 in response to a need for an
organized body of whitewater and tripping enthusiasts. There are now 261
members in four interest areas: whitewater, marathon, sprint, and recreation.
This club has an active instruction program, with 155 people receiving training
in 1990 and a junior development program instituted. At present, the group is
focused on fighting a proposed dam in the only three-season whitewater site in
the area, the “Gorge” of the Kaministiquia River.
Other clubs in specific locations are the Headwaters Canoe Club in Bemidji, MN, the Twin Ports Chapter, and Southern
Minnesota Paddlers. The Headwaters
Club, which derives its name from the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi,
is mainly a social paddling group, including matchmaking.
The Twin Ports Chapter draws members from the area of
Duluth, MN, and Superior, WI, and maintains a busy year-round
schedule featuring social paddling and outdoor activities. ( continued)
| HUT! March 1992
(MCA OVERVIEW continued)
The Southern Minnesota Paddlers are a diverse group. Their annual Big
island Rendezvous Is the highlight of the year and an opportunity to showcase
the group's 30-foot Montreal voyageur canoe, built by the club.The event is complete
with a voyageur brigade camp.
The Voyageur Chapter of the
MCA is dedicated to paddling the MCA’s three voyageur canoes. One of these, a
thirty-footer, is a cedar stripper built by past members. Another is an
“original” wood-canvas, and the third is a 24-footer built by the Chestnut
Canoe Company of New Brunswick, Canada.
The Unisys Chapter, mainly
comprised of employees of that company, is another MCA club. This group
sponsors numerous cruises during Minnesota's paddling season. In fact, they
have a cruise each weekend from late April until September.
Another special interest group is the MCA Women’s Chapter, which was founded to train Minnesota women
paddlers to race dragon boats. Members of this chapter have competed in Taiwan,
Hong Kong, Vancouver (British Columbia), and Dubuque, IA. The Women's Chapter also
encourages women to participate in canoeing.
Chapter is another group that focuses on paddling fast. This group
of MCA members officially kicks off the season on the first Monday after the
start of Daylight Savings Time and continues meeting until mid- to late
September. They travel to races almost every weekend.
In response to the increased interest in sea kayaking, the MCA also boasts a Kayak Touring Chapter. This group paddles on Minnesota's own inland freshwater “sea,” Lake Superior, as well as the Mississippi River and lakes of the BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness).
The highlight of their season is a three-day paddle rendezvous in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior. River and lakes of the BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness). The highlight of their season is a three-day paddle rendezvous in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior.
The Rapids Riders is the MCA’s
whitewater canoe and kayak chapter. Founded in 1983, this chapter has evolved
to the point where they now teach 60 to 65 students each spring in beginning
and refresher whitewater courses. The group includes 15 ACA-certified
whitewater instructors and numerous teaching and safety assistants. The
highlight of the classes is the annual Canoe U Weekend at St. Croix State Park.
Weekend activities include the whitewater classes, the MCA efficient paddling
class, and various cruises. In addition, participants enjoy a pig roast and
square dance on Saturday evening. In 1991, 125 paddlesport enthusiasts joined
the fun of Canoe U weekend.
The clubs and chapters of the MCA make it a busy group. The communication
link that helps tie all the interest areas together is HUT!, in the MCA’s
high-quality magazine sent to all members each month. The organization’s key
social event is the Fall Color Cruise.
The MCA maintains its original goal to share and teach the sport of canoeing.
If you are in the area,
“Come Paddle with Us!”
Canoe Association, Inc.
per year (basic membership)
P. O. Box
On The MCA
An Incomplete History of the MCA
incomplete? Because of lack of time, space and knowledge on the author‘s part
of the early days of the club And the firm belief that the MCA will outlast any
history because the special attractions of canoeing will live as long as there
are rivers and races to run and lakes to cross.
Minnesota Canoe Club becomes the
Minnesota Canoe Association
began in 1961 when a group of pro racers who had competed for many years in the
old Aquatennial Canoe Derby formed the Minnesota Canoe Club. Its chief aim was to
promote participation in canoe racing events.
This informal group was reorganized with a
constitution in December 1965 and became the Minnesota Canoe Association in
January 1964. The purpose was broadened to “encourage canoeing as a recreational
activity and to improve and promote canoeing as a competitive sport." We
owe a great debt to the pro racers who founded the club, not only in terms of
technical knowledge (canoe building paddles, style) but also in terms of their continuing
service to the club. An incomplete list of names would include Russ Scott, Willy
Kronberg, Alvin and Wally Wizniak, Gene Jensen, Buzzy Peterson and of course
Karl L. Ketter. The newsletter was begun in 1963 edited by Russ Scott with
ditto master printing. Janet and Janice Robidoux became editors in November
1966 of the now mimeographed production and christened it "HUT!” In June 1967,
the first edition of the printed magazine with pictures appeared under the twins’
editorship and has steadily I grown under the successive editors Bob O'Hara,
Karl and Betty Ketter and now Ed Chute. In seven years of monthly publication,
our newsletter has never been mailed late, a record unmatched by any other
canoe club in the USA over the same period.
resin and fiberglass have been available to members through the club since
before June 1965. It has always depended on the efforts of the volunteer salesmen,
which include the late Wally Wizniak, John Musil and now Jerry Kress and Cliff
Lee. Today it is a principal source of club income.
mention resin sales without mentioning the building program would be absurd.
The "old pros" developed the cedar strip technique prior to 1960 and
built many racers gradually perfecting the process. Curt Mommsen built the
first guide model and Karl Neal Ketter wrote up the first edition of the build
book in early 1966. This is a phenomenal activity of our club, perhaps the most
important single factor in its growth.
Incorporation and Liability
continue the chronicle of general club history we find concern about personal liability
for sponsored events heading to the incorporation of the MCA in May 1966 under
the laws of the State of Minnesota. Royce Sanner provided the necessary legal
work as a volunteer service. By this time, the club had already grown to include
many out of state members and was destined to become a large regional
organization. Curt Mommsen was present during the incorporation planning year
and Karl Neal Ketter was elected as its first president in October 1966.
Growth and Activities
Karl Neal’s very able leadership and enthusiastic promotion, the club took on
its present form as an organization supporting recreational and competitive
activity performed with paddle and or canoe. In these years, a concern for the preservation
of our favorite canoeing waterways began to stimulate a conservation movement
within the club.
illustration of growth, in December 1965 Willy Kronberg reported $304.71 in the
treasury. Today it is about ten times that amount. We had 113 members in May of
1966. Today a little over 1000 are not only concentrated in the Twin Cities
area but are located also in Wisconsin, outstate Minnesota, neighboring
Midwestern states, New York, California, Canada and wherever else paddles dip
besides a general rise in canoeing interest across the whole country has
contributed to this phenomenal growth? I believe first it is our building program,
which has been copied in method by canoe clubs all across the country. Second,
it is our excellent newsletter, which ranks in quality if not in coverage with
the productions of the national organizations:
the ACA’s “American Canoeist”, the USCA’s “Canoe News”, and the AWA’s
“White Water”, all of which are published only on a quarterly basis.
monthly meetings are a third factor in growth. They have covered the gamut of
canoe activity and have proved interesting enough to the public that attendance
has gone from 50-100 up to 150-300. Some meetings have drawn up to 350 canoe
we have continued sponsorship of a range of outdoor events in canoes, which
give us all something to read about if not to join. Probably the oldest club
event is the Jensen Handicap Race for club members only. A gut-busting early
spring race, it is always full of tension and drama—a good show to watch and a
greater one to be in. Our competitors have raced in (and in many cases won)
just about every major canoeing event in the North American continent with the
exception of Olympic Flatwater races. Our pro’s rank with the finest of Michigan
and Quebec as the best long distance racers in the world.
annual cruises are quite popular with those within driving distance, particularly
the Lockwatennial, begun by the Robidoux twins in 1966, the Fall St.Croix
Cruise and Builder’s contest begun by Joe Conrad in 1966, and the early spring
whitewater cruise-always full of spills and chills.
else has made our club grow to greatness? In addition to those people mentioned
above and at the risk of omitting some who should be named, I would credit
Terry McGaughey with the vision of a large regional club; past-presidents Karl
Neal Ketter and Joe Conrad for its promotion; and Karl L. Ketter and Betty
Ketter who were always there when someone was needed to print the newsletter,
keep membership records, gather, stitch and fold “HUT!”, mail “HUT!”, write for
“HUT!” , run races, edit “HUT!”, get meeting places, find cheap supply sources
for trophies, patches, paper, etc., plan and run cruises---they did it all and
set for all of us an example of dedicated volunteer service to our club.
the club is better grounded than ever before to fulfill its many functions
under the recent presidents, L. Ketter and Jeff Howe. We are big and that
means some work, some sacrifice, and in some cases less personal contact, but
as long as we all chip in our two bits worth we will continue to have an MCA which
brings us the finest in canoeing and helps us all to find those small personal
events on, in and around water which, after all, is why we all love boats and
August 1970 HUT!