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Prince Edward County first stop for epic C3 Expedition

The C3 Expedition ship anchored in Picton Bay. A Zodiac boat, left, prepares to take passengers to the PEC Yacht Club. Photo by Anne VanVlack visitthecounty.ca

Sarah Walker and Scott Wentworth, of Come Alive Outside, Tyendinaga Mohawk Chief R. Donald Maracle listen to Geoff Green, Expedition leader, as his daughter Nellie examines the PEYC burgee.

The Prince Edward County Yacht Club burgee will fly proudly on the Canada C3 Expedition as it continues its epic 23,000 kilometre journey.

The ship was anchored in Picton Bay Friday and Saturday for participants to explore the County during the first stop on the 150-day journey.

Though the water level is high at Picton’s Yacht Club, and flowing over into its parking lot, it is not deep enough to receive the former Canadian Coast Guard ice-breaker.

PEYC Commodore Brian Skuffham, councillor Gord Fox and students in the Come Alive Outside and Recreation Outreach Centre programs welcomed the participants, arriving by Zodiac boats to the club for a ceremony, tour of the town and dinner.

The C3 (coast to coast to coast) Expedition, a voyage of celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, incorporates a variety of participants including scientists, artists, indigenous elders and rotating groups of students.

On arrival to the County, the C3 sailed around Point Petre, then to False Ducks Island where the science team conducted its first science mission taking water samples – part of a coastal Canadian survey being completed on the journey. Later, another team spoke with school children.

For expedition leader Geoff Green, of the Students on Ice Foundation, the County has a personal connection. His grandparents had a farm in Carrying Place and his dad, Stan, grew up there. Geoff also lived there for a number of years and worked as a school teacher.

“I have a deep, personal connection to the area and I think it’s one of the greatest places in the country,” he said. “It was important to start our journey in the Great Lakes, our fourth coast line. Maybe we should have called it C4.”

Green explained the ship was called the Sir Humprey Gilbert, then the Polar Prince and now affectionately, the Canada C3.

The passengers are exploring the four key themes of Canada 150 – diversity and inclusion, reconciliation, youth engagement and the environment.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into transforming it into something special for this journey,” said Green. “We have an amazing collection of special Canadians that have come on the first leg (of 15), ambassadors for all of you and representatives of our diverse country.”

Chef Michael Olson

“It’s amazing,” said television celebrity chef Michael Olson, professor at the Niagara Culinary Institute. “It’s an adventure just to be on the ship, but more to be surrounded by all these people from across the country. They’re excited about what they do. They are artists, scientists, writers, photographers.”

Most interesting from the past two days, he said, was seeing everybody without a strong internet signal on board. “You’ve got all these people who are used to walking around with their phones now sitting at tables having discussions. I found that absolutely invigorating.”

He’s cooking from a variety of versatile menus that are easy to respect food sensitivities. Friday night at Toronto’s launch was a “hog town” barbecue including produce from his hometown, grown by students. He expected the highlight of his stop in the County would be attendance at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

“I am happy to represent my people and bring the culture to the C3,” said Donovan Thompson, of Akwesasne. “It’s important. We live on this land together and should respect one another and acknowledge our differences.”

“In Indigenous culture it’s believed we’re put here on earth to be the guardians of the land and the water,” said Green. “I think we’ve lost sight of that a little bit. We take it for granted. We think we control Mother Nature and of course, the opposite is true. As a water nation, we have the largest coastline of any country in the world – blessed with lakes and rivers. We are the lucky ones because that water connects us all and defines who we are as Canadians and by travelling our coastline we hope to connect our Country and showcase the great things, but also the things that could be better.”

Aaron Pritchett

Musician Aaron Pritchett, known for bringing rock energy to country audiences, is thrilled to join kitchen music parties on the ship.

Pritchett was invited to be on the ship, to the chagrin of his girlfriend, who had made application, but was unable to submit it in time, caught up in the joyous energy of travelling to Ottawa last April where Pritchett was nominated for a Juno Award.

“She was excited for me, but not happy. But there is a possibility she could still join in at some point.”

Being on the ship, he said “is pretty amazing. There’s so much to learn from everybody onboard and at every stop.”

Geoff Green and son Fletcher present Mayor Robert Quaiff with an expedition T-shirt and hat

Mayor Robert Quaiff welcomed the team and participants to the County noting pride that Prince Edward County, once home of the nation’s first Prime Minister Sir John A Macdonald, was selected as the first stop on the journey.

“I can’t think of a better place to start the conversation about the Country’s past, present and the future,” said Quaiff.

He also pointed out the inspiring artwork on the ship painted by Kirk Brant, a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte at Tyendinaga. The image of the ‘Turtle Island’ on the ship serves to remind every community the C3 visits of our shared commitment to reconciliation.”

Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory Chief R. Don Maracle called the gathering into a circle and provided a blessing for the celebration in the first language of this land.

“We are marking a special time as Canada celebrates its birthday of 150 years,” said Maracle, reflecting on some of its history and ancestors.

He also noted he was pleased to see the contributions of youth in many areas with the C3 project.

“Often times their voices are not heard. I’m very pleased that the Students on Ice Foundation saw fit to make this a priority.

Peter Lockyer, of History Lives Here, waits for the Expedition participants to join in on a walking tour of Picton, starting from “Lake PEYC”

Saturday, the youth from the Come Alive Outside and Recreation Outreach Centre were ambassadors to show the visitors around the County – including stops in Wellington, the Sandbanks and the Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

The 23,000 kilometre epic journey will circle around the East Coast, along the Northwest Passage to Victoria over the next five months. The trip is divided into 15 legs, that will bring a new group of participants on board for about 10 days at a time.

Click here to follow the expedition using the interactive map 

Click here to follow the journey on Facebook, with live updates.

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