The Upper Ottawa River Race and Paddle Festival will be held on Aug. 9 to 11. Celebrating the event’s community parterships are (left to right) Heather Salovaara, Economic Development Officer with Pembroke; Andrea Graham with Heritage Hearing Care; Kelly Williams, Community Services Director for Petawawa; Donna Roggie with Johnston and Mackie Limited; Tiffany Reiche with Johnston and Mackie Limited; Dez Bair-Patel with Integrated Health Centre; Mark Lesinski. President and Chief Executive Office at CNL; Elijah McKeown, Recreation Programmer at the City of Pembroke; Jessica Videto with Quality Inns, Heather Sutherland, Tourism and Communications Officer at the City of Pembroke; and Sandra Nielsen, Community Services Liaison with Petawawa. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

Upper Ottawa River Race and Paddle Festival August 9-11

By Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post

Posted on Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Upper Ottawa River Race and Paddle Festival is back again, attracting paddlers of all stripes to the shores of Petawawa and Pembroke.

The jointly hosted festival is split between both municipalities with activities being held in both locations.

Over three days, paddlers will enjoy races of 4 km, 13 km and 44 km using kayaks, canoes, Stand Up Paddling (SUP) or other non-motorized watercraft as well as demonstrations and water activities, SUP yoga, paddling clinics, the Reel, Kayaks and Real Heroes event, kids activities and races, vendors, live music, a heritage paddle, a kayak fishing derby, and the “Raise Your Paddle” fundraising race with money going to the Renfrew County Canadian Cancer Society.

“From the get-go, we really prided ourselves on the fact that we were able to come together with a neighbouring municipality to host what we hope will be a regional event someday,” said Kelly Williams, Petawawa’s Community Services Director. “It started out small but we’ve managed to grow it a little bit year over year.”

The festival has always been a very popular event for outdoor lovers as “it’s a little different and it brings together people from different paddling communities,” added Williams.

It is now in its fifth year and shows no sign of slowing down with people from all over the Ottawa Valley region right down to the United States signing up to participate.

“It really is about celebrating the river,” said Heather Salovaara, Economic Development Officer with Pembroke.

To add a bit of spice, the festival has been given a Hawaiian Luau theme and little touches and surprises here and there will add a festive flair.

The beloved annual event requires the help of multiple community partners to allow it to run smoothly. Once more, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has returned as the festival’s title sponsor, providing both financial and in-kind support.

Without local businesses and organizations, there wouldn’t be nearly as much to enjoy, admitted Salovaara.

“From a municipal perspective, we aren’t trying to make a profit on of this,” she said. “We are trying to bring people to the area and to provide a service to our residents. By having these sponsors in our community, we are able to provide a level of service to the event beyond what we would be able to otherwise.”

Johnston and Mackie Limited has been sponsoring the Kayak Fishing Derby since its inception.

“It gets the community together, both Petawawa and Pembroke, which I think is great,” said Broker Donna Roggie. “We are one big happy family and it gets people outdoors. They do an amazing job. There has never been a glitch.”

The festival will be held from Aug. 9 to 11 with much of the event being held at the Petawawa Point and the Riverside Park in Pembroke. Many of the activities are free, but there are fees for the races. Event details are online at