Christa’s Cruise honours Ottawa Valley paddling pioneer

BARRYS BAY – At 80, she had trouble walking, but with a paddle in her hand, she was still willing to kayak out in Georgian Bay with her daughter.

That’s how Claudia Van Wijk remembers her mother, Christa Kerckhoff (Ottenberg). 

“We were crashing through the waves and we turned around, surfing them. She was yodelling,” said Van Wijk with astonishment and pleasure in her voice.

Together in a tandem kayak, with waves crashing over Christa in the bow, they were both thrilled by the sudden storm on Georgian Bay and happy to be paddling together.

That was last August, six months before Christa died of organ failure after a life full of adventure as a white water pioneer and founder of two businesses in the Ottawa Valley; Madawaska Kanu Centre and OWL Rafting.

She helped found the first white water paddling school and the first rafting company in Canada and pioneered white water recreation in the Ottawa Valley.

For more pick up a copy of the August 23, 2017 paper.