White Water Play
Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

A photo gallery of open and covered canoes and kayaks playing at Big Eddy Rapids on the lower Petawawa River in the early 1980s.

In the 1980s, the Valley River Runners, a white water club centred in Deep River, would meet after work each Wednesday when water conditions were suitable and would paddle the lower Petawawa River until dark. Then we would get together for beer and pizza. (We used to get some pretty strange looks entering a pub or restaurant while some of us were wearing stretch neoprene shorts and maybe a spray skirt.) The Valley River Runners has since disbanded as a formal club, but until at least very recently, the after work paddling tradition continued. However, most of the paddlers pictured here are now retired.

The usual starting location was just upstream of the new Highway 17 bridge. Sometimes, we would remain at Big Eddy Rapids; at other times we would proceed downstream through Railway, Lovers, Catwalk, Suicide and the Point Rapids.

This series of photographs were taken by Diana -- exact date unknown. Diana was not paddling due to a shoulder issue. Consequently, Bob had to coerce various solo boat paddlers to paddle bow with him. The usual outcome was a swim.

At high water, Big Eddy Rapids is a fun play spot. It has some nice surfing waves and standing waves, combined with a safe runout.

Dave in his C1
playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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Half the paddle; twice the man.

playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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Dave paddles bow with Bob
playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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Lean downstream.

playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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We're surfing, but perhaps taking on a little water as well.

playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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It spat us out

playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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That white spot way downstream is Bob's head

playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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Back to paddling solo

playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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Bob conscripts Peter to paddle bow for him
playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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We're in!

playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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We're out!

playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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From Bob's paddle position -- solidly on the gunwales -- it appears that we are essentially awash at this stage. Peter just doesn't realize it yet.

playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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Gary and Bruce stuck to their solo boats
playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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Bruce

playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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Gary

playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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playing in white water at Big Eddy Rapids on the Petawawa River

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A shame about the focus, but enders happen quickly and all focusing was manual.

These photos were taken more than 25 years ago. At that time, the Provincial Government was just giving local municipalities the authority to sell off the riverside road allowances. This had previously protected the public's right to access the shoreline and provided protection for the portages around the various rapids. Early in 2009, the Federal Government gutted the Navigable Waters Protection Act. With no assured public access to the shoreline and no overriding right to navigate the river, the future of paddling the lower Petawawa River is uncertain. Currently there is talk of the construction of one or more low head dams on this section of the river.