Canadian Teen Canoes for Two Months to Reach his Summer Job

Rivers Rowing/canoeing
Zev Heuer canoes 2,000km to get to summer job with his dog Blaze. Photo: Karsten Heuer

Zev Heuer, 15, has spent the last two months canoeing 2,000km from Canmore, Alberta to his summer job in Missinipe, Saskatchewan; aptly, at an outfitting shop for canoeists. He has worked here for the past two summers, but has never paddled the commute before.

He came up with the plan when the COVID-19 pandemic meant that all his schoolwork was online and he was stuck at home. By the time his studies finished, he had his route planned and was ready to go.

Pulling his canoe along a frozen river bank. Photo: Karsten Heuer

This is not Heuer’s first long journey in a canoe. When he was two years old, his parents took him on a five-month canoe trip (which also included using a sailboat and train) from their home in the Rockies to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to visit writer Farley Mowat. His mother, Leanne Allison, turned the trek into a documentary called Finding Farley. “I feel super-comfortable in a canoe,” says Heuer.

His parents, Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison, encouraged him to complete the two-month expedition. Allison is a filmmaker, and Karsten Heuer is a park warden and environmentalist. The two of them have done long treks of their own. The first was a Yellowstone-to-Yukon hike linking wild ecosystems, the second followed the Porcupine caribou herd for several months on foot, from which Leanne made a film and Karsten wrote a book, both called Being Caribou. So it is not hard to see where Zev got his adventurous gene.

Zev’s route. Image: CTV News

Heuer’s journey began on the Bow River and took him through the South Saskatchewan River, Lake Diefenbaker and finally into the North Saskatchewan River. Though his journey was mostly solo, with just his dog Blaze for company, Heuer’s dad joined him at the start and end of the trip. He also tracked the canoe for the length of the journey and helped him through a few tricky sections of water. Of his son’s trip, Karsten Heuer said, “He’s moving from boyhood to manhood, so I think it’s really important to know yourself during that critical transition of life.”

Photo: Karsten Heuer

Going solowas a first for Heuer. “I hadn’t really been on my own before,” he said. “Everything felt a little bit careful and cautious and kind of like holding your breath for something to go wrong.”

At one point, he almost lost his boat when scouting out a camp spot for the night. He didn’t haul his boat in far enough, and the canoe, with all his gear, started to drift away from the shore. Heuer waded into waist-deep water to bring it back.

Heuer now has two months of work ahead of him at the outfitting shop before heading back to school.

Photo: Karsten Heuer

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About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca is a freelance writer and science teacher based in the UK.

She is a keen traveler and has been lucky enough to backpack her way around Africa, South America, and Asia. With a background in marine biology, she is interested in everything to do with the oceans and aims to dive and open-water swim in as many seas as possible.

Her areas of expertise include open water sports, marine wildlife and adventure travel.

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West Shane
West Shane
11 months ago

That is so cool to be able to do at a young age! Kudos to Zev!

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Eddy De Wilde
Eddy De Wilde
11 months ago

Zev has had a great upbringing and shown a lot of courage to do this mainly alone.

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terry Dabill
terry Dabill
10 months ago

Wow that is amazing someone so young with such discipline and maturity to do such a thing considering most young people of that age in the UK my country find it too much to get a bus to to college. Well done young man.

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