2013 Wilderness and Canoe Symposium
By Bill King
On February 15 and 16, 2013, approximately 530 WCA members and future WCA members passed an exhausting, entertaining, educational, exhilarating 15 hours at the Wilderness and Canoe Symposium, "Northern Travels and Northern Perspectives XII." A wide range of topics was covered including: a video of the steel canoe created by sculptor John McEwen which actually floated, a presentation by Dave Freeman concerning his 11,700 mile journey with his wife Amy across North America by kayak, canoe and dogsled and an exhibit of paintings created by artist, Allen Smutylo, while kayaking in East Greenland. The highlight was a presentation by the organizer, George Luste, a retrospective look at his 50 years of wilderness experiences.
George was very open with the attendees about the fact that he has health issues which may prevent him from attending another Symposium. The organizers were anxious not to let the opportunity pass to publicly express their appreciation to George for the enormous time, skill, and effort which he has put in, organizing this annual Symposium for the last 28 years.
This appreciation took several forms.
Former Nastawgan Editor, Sandy Richardson, and Robin Hadfield compiled a collection of the music heard over the years at the Symposia which, with the permission of the artists, was made into a CD, "Northern Perspectives," the proceeds of whose sale will go towards creating a lasting memorial to George and the Symposium. Those who were unable to attend this year's event will be pleased to hear that some copies are left over and will be offered for sale at future events such is the AGM and the Wine & Cheese Evening.
Further, through the good offices of the Canadian Canoe Museum, a George Luste Fund is being created to which people can make tax-deductible donations under the Museum's charitable umbrella. The funds will be used, at least in part, to sponsor an annual George Luste Lecture, to be held at the Museum.
Lastly, we wanted something tangible, something which George could hold in his hands. Aleks Gusev, who inherits the enormous task of chief Symposium organizer, has been compiling a book containing selections from the past 28 years of Symposia. While the actual book could not be ready in time, Aleks presented George with a plaque showing a collection photos which will form the cover when the book is complete. The central photo shows the attendees at the first Symposium, held at George's home. (Were we ever really that young?!)
We wish Aleks every future success - the shoes are the size of canoes!
2013 Interview with James Raffan about Luste Lecture series