Atikokan Métis Becomes First to Travel Solo Along Old Voyageur Canoe Route
On September 12, 2011, in Montreal, Quebec, Mike Ranta, a Métis man from Atikokan completed a 5,200 km canoe journey that started May 7th in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. Ranta followed what is commonly known as the Alexander Mackenzie route that was used by generations of Métis voyageurs. While the route has been well-travelled in years gone by, and even today by recreational canoeists, Ranta is the first person to ever travel the entire route by himself. He has applied to The Guinness Book of World Records to have this amazing accomplishment recognized.
The 39 year old Ranta undertook the journey to support the Atikokan Youth Initiatives Program. “I wanted to show the youth that if you want something you have to go for it,” explained Ranta. The idea that no goal is too difficult to achieve if you work at it was clearly demonstrated by Ranta’s epic feat. Ranta faced all manner of weather conditions and a back breaking 70 portages. He attributes much of his ability to endure this arduous route to his Métis background. Ranta remembers his family talking about their Métis roots and attributes his “good understanding of the bush” to this heritage. “It’s a great culture and a great people,” said Ranta.
Despite the obvious difficulties presented by the journey, Ranta has nothing but good things to say about the experience. “I felt great at the end of it,” he stated. He also warmly remembers the hospitality he was shown as he crossed the Métis homeland. Just one example of the welcome he received everywhere he went was a group of Aboriginal paddlers that shadowed him all the way from Cumberland House in Saskatchewan to Winnipeg, Manitoba. They even provided him with some Pickerel during the trip. Ranta paddled into his home town of Atikokan, appropriately the canoe capital of Canada, on July 2, where he received a hero’s welcome. “We, in Atikokan, are very proud of Mike,” said Marlene Davidson, the President of the Atikokan and Surrounding Area Métis Council.
Ranta’s future plans include writing a book about his journey and in three to four years embarking on another canoe trip – this time from Vancouver to Cape Breton Island. If you want to learn more about Mike Ranta’s Voyaguer adventure, visit the Atikokan Youth Initiatives website at:
The website includes Ranta’s YouTube video log and articles about Ranta from the newspapers in communities that he travelled through.
See ALL news articles