Open Mic with ‘The Happy Camper’ at the Oar & Paddle

Join Canadian paddling expert Kevin Callan and Randy Mitson from Algonquin Outfitters at the Oar & Paddle Restaurant & Pub on June 25, 2017 to chit chat about the great season ahead – and to enjoy superb food and drink too.

A place where paddlers gather is hosting a one-of-a-kind event to launch the paddling season in the wilderness north of Toronto. The Oar & Paddle in Gravenhurst, Muskoka will welcome ‘The Happy Camper’ Kevin  and Randy from “AO” for the first annual Paddling Ontario Open Mic on June 25, 2017 from 4pm to 7pm.

Kevin will be sharing stories about and tips for canoeing and camping in Ontario, particularly in Algonquin Park, on Georgian Bay, and on the Pickerel River and Noganosh Lake systems in the Loring-Restoule area.

MC Randy will then lead an open mic conversation between Kevin and attendees, allowing everyone in the crowd to ask questions about paddling in the region (…”where’s the best place to put in the Pickerel River?…where can I find information about the Big East?”) and to share more adventures with the room. There will be fantastic door prizes and awards for the best stories. With limited seating capacity, tickets to this in augural event should be purchased in advance online.

The Oar and Paddle Restaurant and Pub is located in Gravenhurst, right at the junction that will lead paddlers either to Algonquin Park and the Almaguin Highlands up Highway 11, or to Georgian Bay, Parry Sound and Loring-Restoule  while following Highway 169. It’s the perfect pit stop for paddlers heading to and from their excursions, and no trip to the region is complete without stopping here to share a fantastic meal with fellow outdoor adventure fans.

Owners Robbie & Alain Irvine named the Oar & Paddle in tribute to their own passion for paddling at their family cottage on Prospect Lake, in the heart of Muskoka. Open year-round, this popular establishment features an outdoorsy, cottage country style to go with the outstanding casual dining menu.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the restaurant and pub is the living paddling history on the walls. The space is literally covered in paddles and oars, each with its own heritage and story to tell. The idea for the unique wall art started accidentally in the family’s boathouse; several oars and paddles owned by Robbie’s grandfather were collecting dust, so they were brought into the restaurant and used for decoration. It wasn’t long before customers who were also passionate about paddling and who had heard the stories started coming forward with paddles – and tales – of their own. The walls have become a shrine to the love and joy of paddling in the region ever since.

On one wall hangs an extremely long oar that belonged to a lifeboat from one of Muskoka’s historic steamships. Another paddle has a large chunk missing and is held together with duct tape, the result of a brotherly feud that ended in a smash over the head.

There is a worn and scarred paddle decorated with the image of a First Nations “War Bird,” the traditional sign of a Band Chief. It was discovered in Buckhorn Lake near Peterborough and donated to the restaurant to become a part of its paddling history. The restaurant also has a collection of antique glass bottles, also from the family cottage. They even have an authentic looking treasure chest, the contents of which are a favourite source of speculation.

Word is spreading about the unique space and its collection – and paddlers are taking notice. Stories are routinely shared with staff and it is not uncommon to see impromptu and passionate discussions between tables. Several loyal paddlers have the restaurant pack them a picnic lunch before they hit the water, and you can even purchase an Oar & Paddle picnic blanket to take with you on your travels.

And did we mention the the Oar & Paddle also has fourteen beer taps and serves exceptional locally-brewed craft beer?

The Oar & Paddle Restaurant and Pub is a must-stop destination for anyone interested in paddling and exceptional cuisine. Stop by on your way to your next adventure and discover some of the region’s paddling history, or recap your weekend on the water with paddle partners over a delicious meal.

And be sure to join Kevin Callan and Randy Mitson on Sunday, June 25 from 4pm to 7pm at the Oar & Paddle to launch another epic paddling season, to get helpful tips on where to paddle in the Explorers’ Edge region of Ontario, and to encounter like-minded adventurers in one amazing place.

Space is limited for the Paddling Ontario Open Mic event so be sure to reserve your spot by purchasing tickets online as soon as possible.

For more information on this inaugural event, click here. For more information on the Oar & Paddle, click here.

Check out the videos of Kevin Callan discussing the endearing appeal of Algonquin Park with Jerry Schmanda from Algonquin Outfitters and the never-ending exploration to be found while sea kayaking on Georgian Bay with Tim Dyer from White Squall Paddling Centre.