The Paddle Ontario Project

By Chris

For Clayton MacKinnon, completing his final Fine Arts project mere months before our nation’s much anticipated 150th birthday was an opportunity too good to miss. During his college years, the Merrickville native rediscovered his childhood love for exploring the outdoors. What would come from this convergence of passion and opportunity would be a flagship project for Clayton: the Paddle Ontario Project.

Giant Loonie
Courtesy of Clayton MacKinnon

Having completed a four-piece series of panoramic paintings, depicting places where he’d previously explored in the summer between his first and second years, the following project would have to be more ambitious. After a brainstorming session with his professor, Clayton decided that his next large project would trade the traditional canvas for the body of a sanded down Canoe. With this blank slate, Clayton began a painting centered on Canada’s 150th birthday (influenced by the country’s outdoors).

The painting, however, was only a facet of the larger project. The next step saw Clayton take the canoe on a 9-day journey across Ontario, covering 4.877 kilometers. Because the transportation of the vessel was difficult with limited manpower, the bulk of the trip would be done on the road, with a day being dedicated to water-faring. Throughout the trip, Clayton gathered pictures and video of the province’s outdoors (visuals that will be incorporated into a forthcoming documentary about the project).

As it traveled, the Kayak lit up the faces of fellow travelers on the 401, and became a conversation piece with visitors of the provincial and federal parks Clayton visited. Nearly halfway through the trip, two feet of overnight snow delayed him. Luckily, he had met some generous people that offered him a place to sleep. The extra day gave him the visual splendor of the Bruce Peninsula area, replete with a fresh snowfall.

First Day With Canoe
Courtesy of Clayton MacKinnon

Now, with the painting and adventuring completed, as well as an exhibition at the Marianne van Silfhout Gallery behind him, Clayton aims to have a completed documentary posted on YouTube and Vimeo. The success of this project has inspired him to expand on this idea with the planned Paddle Canada Project.

“…I want to continue to follow my passion for film photography and art in growing the Clayton Explores name…”


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