And the circle widens… a message from Ann Wipper

And the circle widens… a message from Ann Wipper

Many people have asked us from where the concept and idea of the Paddle In The Park Contest originated – the idea of rewarding people for getting “Out There”. You might be wondering that yourself. Then again, there were a few people who knew right away. One of these people is Ann Wipper. When Ann first heard the concept for the Paddle In The Park Contest she immediately recognized Kirk’s influence in what the Paddle In The Park Contest stood for.

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Kirk Wipper (Photo: Michael Cullen)

Kirk Wipper, for those not familiar with his world renowned contributions and work, was an outstanding leader in the field of outdoor education, who developed and led outdoor projects for camps and university athletics in Ontario and across Canada. Kirk was also the founder of the Kanawa International Museum of Canoes, Kayaks and Rowing Craft, which was to later become the world renowned Canoe Museum. He was also Ann’s beloved husband. He sadly paddled on and away from this life on March 18, 2011. Kirk was a gentleman and a High Soul. He believed in the wilderness, that is for sure, but he also believed….

Well, we’d rather let Ann tell you, herself:


Kirk wanted children, youth, adults and the elderly to embrace the outdoors that he loves so much. He knew in his very core the importance of the wilderness to the health and spiritual well being of our nation.

His words that resonate with me are:

You have to do what you can;
Do your best with what you are;
And you have to believe in the wilderness;
If you do that you can’t go wrong.


Let nature be your teacher.
It will show you the ultimate truth of life.


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Kirk and Ann Wipper (Photo: Ray Webber)

His passion, his charisma and his true interest in the well being of others was such a gift in being able to encourage and inspire them to experience the outdoors for themselves. I can see his teachings in the concept of your contest and the educational programs at the Canadian Canoe Museum.

In fact, the Canoe Museum is the tangible tribute to this great man who touched so many lives. His soul lives on in our hearts and you can feel his presence at the museum. The world has been blessed to have been touched by such a man.

What a beautiful idea, Paddle In The Park Contest and hiding the Badger paddles is, to get people out into nature and experience and enjoy the natural world by educating them to the rewards and reasons to do so. Also having the fun of the adventure and challenge of finding the paddles. Kirk and his influence can really be seen in the spirit of this contest as his playful charm and wonderment made a lasting impression on all of us who were touched by his life and legacy.

It was always important to Kirk that we all learn to respect and accept nature in our lives as a necessary tool for living and survival.

“If you want shade you must plant a tree in your garden”

If we want healthy, well balanced children and adults we must introduce them to the outdoors where stress can be automatically reduced and it is for everyone to access.

“One’s happiness depends less on what he knows than on what he feels”

This is why it is so important to educate the parents. So many of Kirk’s students and campers tell me they are now teaching their children what Kirk taught to them.  And so the circle widens.

“Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm…it is the genius of sincerity, and truth accomplishes no victories without it.” – Lytton

We were all blessed that Kirk had this enthusiasm and that his enthusiasm has planted the seeds for ideas like the Paddle In The Park Contest.

“There must be the generating force of love behind every effort destined to be successful.” – Thoreau

Kirk loved nature, people and every life he touched.

I am grateful for Kirk and his teachings. A grateful heart enables us to be ever more humbly in sympathy with other creatures and nature.


A young Kirk Wipper (Photo:

Kirk’s first teachers were the rocks, the trees and the nature that surrounded him. These were his friends in that tiny impoverished village in Northern Manitoba in the early 1920’s when at the age of 5 he built a science house and filled it with specimens from nature and charged $.01 for people to come and learn. Always a teacher. His inborn sense of wonder became contagious.

Good luck to everyone in the Paddle In The Park Contest. Please remember to keep nature in your lives everyday and keep on widening the circle.

annwipper Ann Wipper loves adventure, canoeing, hiking, biking, entertaining and spending time with family and friends. Ann is the wife of the late, and greatly missed Kirk Wipper (founder of the Canadian Canoe Museum and world renowned outdoor educator). As Chair Person for the Kirk Wipper Legacy Fund and the Canadian Canoe Museum, Ann is also known for her beautifully magnificent spirit. While Ann loves to travel, the Canadian Canoe Museum and continuing Kirk’s way is now her greatest passion. To learn more about Ann’s work and the Kirk Wipper Legacy Fund, please visit and the Canadian Canoe Museum website.
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