Heart of Orléans BIA

Petrie Island Canoe Club

Your Name:
Sarah Kennedy

How long have you been in business?
From 2013-2015, we ran intro-to-kayaking programs for children under Rideau Canoe Club. We really wanted to offer full-summer camps and a wider range of programs, so in 2016, we formed our own independent canoe club. We are a not-for-profit sports club, so we are volunteer-run, and our mission is to serve the community by providing quality paddling programs.


What made you choose your current location? What do you love most about Orléans?
My family moved to Orléans in 2011. Before we had even seen our future house, our Real Estate agent brought us down to Petrie, and we immediately fell in love with the island. Orléans has been a great place to raise our kids. I’m especially happy that they were able to attend school in French, so they could become truly bilingual (and get back to their French-Canadian roots)!

Orléans has great schools, great local businesses, and lovely little pockets of nature. I also love that the people in this community really look out for each other.


To what do you attribute your success?
We owe our success to the support of SO many people!!  The club could absolutely never have happened without the generous and constant support of my very patient husband (and boat doctor) Ryan. From the start, Phil McNeely and the engineers on our Building Committee have been absolutely invaluable. Our board was very patient and encouraging as I stumbled through the first few years as Commodore. Starting a new canoe club with me must have taken them a big leap of faith! Our club families have been incredibly generous with their time and efforts, and crucially, our wonderful coaches always are great with the kids, while patiently teaching me how to be a better boss.

In the early days, we had precious few resources, but paddling clubs across the country really came through with donations of boats & equipment. Al Tweddle and the Friends of Petrie Island were extremely helpful and welcoming. In year one, the Lions provided us with a desperately-needed trailer, Rotary has been an incredible help all the way along, and the Petrie Island Outdoor Club made a significant contribution early on that helped a lot. Our local politicians have also been amazing, especially Marie-France Lalonde and the phenomenal Anick Tremblay, who suggested that I start the club in the first place. All that to say, the success of our little club has been a real team effort!!


What inspires you?
I am deeply passionate about the power of sport to transform the lives of people- kids, especially. Being around positive role models and surrounded by a caring group of club families provides a social structure that supports healthy development and helps them to see the world differently as they mature and grow to their full potential. They learn how important it is to be both solid leaders who have others’ best interests at heart, and trustworthy, reliable teammates, who everyone can depend upon to come through for their team. Many of our club kids become club coaches, breaking into the job market without having to give up the sport they love. Athletes who continue in our sport through their teens make friends with people from across Canada and even around the world. Paddling is a particularly beautiful sport in which the whole family can participate for life. It keeps us grounded in our community and closely connected to nature. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to spend every day on the water with kids!