Yukon Canoeing Expeditions


Royal Geographical Society Lecture, 22nd January 1998

By Christopher Reeves

May I first of all thank everyone for making the effort to attend this evening? I know many have travelled some distance to be here tonight and your support is greatly appreciated.

As you will all be aware tonight's lecture is in aid of the Leukaemia Research Fund. Leukaemia can affect anyone, at any age, at any time; old and young; male and female.

  • Every year in Britain 7,000 people will be told they have leukaemia
  • Around 450 of these will be children.
Almost all expeditions require funding of one kind or another and my expedition was no exception. Consequently I believe it of vital importance to recognise those who have assisted me in providing the necessary sponsorship.

Behind me is a list of companies who have done just that and I thank them all for their very generous support.

It is however not just financial support that is important. Moral support is just as vital.

You need to be told that your goals are achievable and no greater support have I had than that from friends and family and not least my wife Fiona.

So, why leave a loving wife of just 8 months to spend a total of 120 days in the Alaskan wilderness? The 8 months by the way refers to the length of time my wife and I had been married and is not a reference to Fiona`s age.

The answer lies in this children's book called "Paddle to the Sea". It tells the story of a North American native boy who in the frozen months of a Canadian winter carved out the figure of an Indian perched inside a canoe.

On the bottom he wrote the following words... "Please put me back in the water - I am Paddle to the Sea". His work finished he laid his creation on the snow at the headwaters of a mighty river.

With the onset of spring, the snow melted and the book tells of the Indians' adventures through the Great Lakes into the St. Lawrence River and eventually out into the Atlantic Ocean.

It was the first book I had ever read and it left a lasting impression- One day I too would make such a journey.

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