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Canoeing the Athabasca River

Canoeing the Athabasca River

Submitted by: Derek

On a hot sunny August day in 1971 my two brothers, father and I were paddling our canoes down the Athabasca River. We came through a long large gorge in the river. Our topographical maps of the day said the gorge was about 600 feet high. The Athabasca river was quite strong through there like it was all along the river. In the hot August sun tears of oil were oozing out of the hot sands on both sides of the river. These tears of oil oozed down the gorge to the river surface where the current whisked the oil downstream. Quite the sight. Where was this gorge? Eight days by canoe UPSTREAM from the little town of Fort McMurray. Eight days. Twice along the river we camped near a naturally occurring natural gas vent and a long slow bubbling tar pit.

The Oil Sands in Fort McMurray are a lot bigger than people think. we were shocked at the size and extent of the oil sands.

Wildlife however was not affected. We saw deer, moose, bears, wolves, eagles all drinking the water or eating fish from the river. We drank from small streams flowing into the big river and ate a lot of fresh fish .

To this day our Athabasca river adventure is a life time stand our for my brothers and I.