Saturday, September 3, 2011


Paddle On for Soldier On – After-Action Report

After a year of planning, organizing, and preparing, Master-Corporal (Retired) Rob Mullan and I set out on a beautiful, sunny July 30th, from Kingston, Ontario for Paddle On for Soldier On (PO4SO). As most of you know the purpose of our journey was to raise awareness and funds for the Soldier On Fund/Program.

Throughout our trip we met a multitude of amazing people from all walks of life. Many of these folks donated to the Fund, shared their personal stories, their food, drink and time with us. Some of these individuals such as Leo, Jeff, Julie and Glen, Connor and Tara, Kim and Sherryl, joined us along the way either by intention or through their own journey on the Rideau.

Paddling on this historical waterway was a great experience for Rob and me. Our trip varied from meandering rivers where the water flowed calmly and gently to larger bodies of water such as the Big Rideau where the rougher waters challenged our skills as kayakers. This waterway was abundant with wildlife such as ducks, otters, herons, and cormorants. On more than a few occasions we witnessed animals of the two-legged type enjoying this Canadian treasure as well.

Our days on the water varied in time and distance ranging from 15 – 28 kms and 3 – 8 hrs. At times we would spend 5 – 6 hrs in our boats without stopping to get out. Each day would consist of a 0600hr wake up, on the water between 0800 – 0830hrs and paddle until our final stop for the night (with a lunch break in-between).

We had no serious issues until the morning of Day 8 (Aug 6th) where Rob awoke extremely ill. He had been feeling off for a number of days but, not wanting to pack it in, he had “sucked it up” and continued to paddle on. However, that morning was the last straw and he had to call his wife for a “dust-off”. She picked him off shortly afterwards and brought him to emergency. I continued on the journey without my paddle buddy but was accompanied by Kim and Sherryl, two professional musicians who form the group the Bb Sisters and had joined our little adventure the previous day. The Bb Sisters would paddle along with me for much of the day. On this leg of the trip some members of the Manotick Legion had arranged for two get-togethers at two locations; the first at Jean and Monique Lanouette before Long Island, and another at the western tip of the island where they would present PO4SO with a substantial donation. Later that evening I spoke to Rob and was happy to hear that after some anti-biotics and fluids he was doing much better.

On Day 9 (Aug 7th), as I woke to a grey sky, I realized that this journey was coming to an end. As I paddled, on my own, for the remaining 22kms to the final take-out-point I reflected on the past year’s work, the paddle itself, and those who were part of it. In just 3 hours I had reached Hartwell’s Locks. It was 11 o’clock in the morning and my expected time of arrival had been 1500hrs. Not wanting to sit, or float around aimlessly I paddled to Dow’s Lake and had a cold drink and a plate of fries. At 1400hrs I commenced a slow paddle to my final destination. As I arrived at Lock #8, next to Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, I was greeted by family and friends, including Rob who looked amazingly well. A reporter from CTV Ottawa News was on hand to conduct a small interview which aired that night. After 200kms the journey had come to an end.

Our goal of raising awareness for the Soldier On Fund/Program was a great success. Through written letters, emails, advertising, promotion and our journey on the Rideau we raised awareness among:

The Governor General of Canada;
The Prime Minister of Canada;
19 Members of the Federal and Provincial Parliaments;
The Mayors of Ottawa and Kingston (along with their respective city councillors);
79 Civilian Companies;
Countless organizations (including various military units, Legions and cadet corps);
52 Media Outlets (many of which carried our story);
Local communities along the Rideau waterway; and
Countless private citizens.

Through the generosity of organizations and individuals, our secondary goal of raising funds for this admirable charity was achieved to the sum of $6,056 at the time of this message.

I would like this opportunity to thank our Corporate Sponsors/Supporters who have supported us by either making donations to the Soldier On Fund, providing us with required items of equipment, or by promoting our cause through their various contacts. Our gratitude goes out to:

2317 - 30th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps
Airborne Regiment Association of Canada
Ambassador Conference Resort Kingston
ARVOX Internet
Baxter Conservation Area
Canadian Airborne Forces Association
Canadian Forces Base Kingston
Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa)
Cascade Designs
Councillor Eli El-Chantiry
Friends of the Rideau
Mayor of the City of Kingston
Member of Parliament for Nepean-Carleton
Member of Provincial Parliament for Kingston and the Islands
NDHQ WOs' and Sgts'/C and POs' Mess
Paddle Canada
Parks Canada - Rideau Canal Office and Lock personnel
Prime Minister of Canada
Rideau Canal Junior Ranks Mess
Rideau Ferry Conservation Area
Parks OntarioRideau River Provincial Park and their staff
Royal Canadian Legion - Branch 171 Alliston
Royal Canadian Legion – Branch 314 South Carleton (Manotick)
Royal Canadian Legion - Dominion Command
Royal Military College of Canada
Soldier Fuel Canada
Trailhead Kingston
Werner Paddles

There are many individuals who helped make our event a huge success. I’d like to thank Captain (Retired) Cristina Banville, CD, for her assistance with the PO4SO press release. Her experience and professionalism truly was an asset to our event, Marianne, Rob’s wife, for supporting him during this event even though it meant spending their 29th wedding anniversary in Merrickville during our paddle on the Rideau, Rob’s sister Jean and boyfriend Frank for treating us to a wonderful BBQ at Rideau River Provincial Park. I want to thank my sister Diane for coming out with my wife Julie for a visit early on in our paddle and joining us for a great BBQ, my kids Katie and Jordan for paying me a visit at Burritts Rapids Lock Station and to my in-laws, Marcel and Carol, who have encouraged me throughout this year, supported my wife during my absence, and for accompanying my wife to the Kilmarnock Lock Station for another great BBQ.

Finally, and most importantly, I want to thank my wife Julie. Without all her encouragement and support (including some translation, proofreading, resupply and blog updating) PO4SO would not have been such a success. Her words and strength were and continues to be a great source of motivation.

Thank you all, once again, for supporting Paddle On for Soldier On and I encourage you to continue supporting the Soldier On Fund and its programs.

Sergeant (Retired) Marc Belanger, CD
Paddle On for Soldier On

Friday, September 2, 2011


Last call for Paddle On for Soldier On donations: The folks at the Soldier On Fund just informed me that we've raised $5986.....$14 shy of the $6000 mark. If you haven't donated yet please do so and bring us to the $6000. If the donation is online the number will quickly be reflected.
Thanks again for the support.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


If you'd like to see CTV Ottawa News' coverage of Sunday's Paddle On for Soldier On's arrival go to and click on "Retired Soldiers Kayak to Help Injured Troops" under the CTV News Video Player.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Here are a few pics from yesterday's arrival.

Happy to see family and friends at the end of the nine-day paddle.

Despite his illness two days ago Rob was there to greet me at the end.

Giving the CTV reporter an interview on PO4SO.

My supportive wife and acting-blogger speaking with the CTV reporter.


Good evening everyone,

The Manotick Legion requested that I pass the attached information for information. If you know of any Afghanistan Vets please pass this on.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Hello everyone,

Today, at 1500hrs, I arrived at Lock #8 in Ottawa to be greeted by family and friends. Rob was there, feeling much better.

As I just got home this will be a short blog entry with more to follow later on. I would like to mention that CTV Ottawa was there at the Take-Out-Point to interview us and will be airing a small clip at 1800hrs followed by a longer portion during the 2330hrs local news.