Smedley Canoe


A little bit of family history and where the canoe gene came from. The Smedley family has a long history in whitewater canoeing and kayaking. Parents Jim Smedley and Sherri Audet, both canoe trippers since high school, got started in their shared hometown of Deep River, Ontario. Sherri moved west after university and learned to whitewater kayak on the creeks of Alberta and BC. Returning home a few years later, she and Jim met up and started paddling whitewater together in kayaks and canoes. Sherri even competed in slalom racing for fun. When kids Alison, Cameron and Liam came along, it was only natural to continue the paddling tradition with flat water and whitewater canoe tripping.


Every year the Smedleys would strike out on a family canoe trip. Favourite destinations included Temagami, and the French and Spanish rivers. For the rest of the summer, they would work in paddling day trips in the Ottawa Valley area. All three kids learned to canoe and kayak very early on, and jumped into solo whitewater kayaking around the age of 7. The family river run started with: Alison and Cameron in Dagger Blasts, Sherri running safety in her kayak, and Jim paddling a solo open canoe with Liam (the baby) paddling from a rigged extra seat in front. Favourite runs included the Mississippi, the Ottawa, the Lower Madawaska, and in the spring, the mighty Carp River run-off at home in West Carleton.

One of the most challenging family adventures was the Smedley trip down the Kattawagami River in northern Ontario. It was a two week wilderness trip from Timmins Ontario to James Bay. Alison and Sherri paddled one canoe, and Jim, Cameron and Liam paddled the second. It was an intense trip with lots of incredible whitewater. It would be one of the last chances for an extended family trip before the kids all got involved with slalom paddling during the summers.The Smedleys still do their best to find time for family paddling each year. Often that means a May long weekend mini-canoe trip, or some family laps of the Ottawa River. Birthdays are always a good reason to go hunting for local waterfalls to run.


Today, Cameron, Liam and Alison attend local paddling events together, like the Level Six Capital Cup and Hell or High Water on the Petawawa River. The slalom circuit has turned into family time as well. At local and national races, the brothers compete, Alison and Jim volunteer as officials, and Sherri provides physiotherapy for the boys (and often to their teammates as well). It’s a family effort, and that carries through to how Cameron and Liam choose to train and compete in tandem today.