Ice Canoe Races Cap Off Quebec City Winter Carnival

Something I did not know before February: There are people on this earth who train all year to race across a frozen river in a canoe.

Having recently located the misplaced photos and video from the final day of my trip to Quebec City, I can now tell you about one of the most insane sporting events I have ever seen. Move over skydiving and Mexican cliff jumping – ice canoe racing takes the cake here.

Brief history: Before there were bridges over the St. Lawrence river, water taxis took people from one side to the other (it was apparently a pretty good living until the bridges put them out of business). These taxi services were run by local families, and one night after a few too many caribous during the Winter Carnival, a challenge was put on the table.

To the boats they went, racing across, navigating the chunks of ice that float down the river. Since, they’ve been doing it every year as the cornerstone of the Winter Carnival, although they have many other races throughout the year as well.

As you will see in the video and photos, it’s not just about avoiding the chunks of ice – it’s about climbing over them, boat and all. I stood in the marina and watched the crews step out of the canoe and onto the ice. They pulled and pushed and dragged the boat, jumping back in just before it found the water on the other side.

Apologies for the quality of the video – I didn’t have my normal gear that day:


Shoes worn by the racers.


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