Donations to protect watershed health keep GMPE founder’s legacy alive

GMPE Cheque Donation

MWC Chair Geoff Ross (centre) accepts a donation from GMPE organizers Pat Schofield (right) and Dave Near (left).

Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC) received a generous donation at its monthly meeting on February 28th. Pat Schofield and Dave Near, organizers of the Great Muskoka Paddling Experience (GMPE), presented a $2,000 cheque to MWC’s new Chair, Geoff Ross. In total, $3,000 was donated to watershed protection organizations in Muskoka from the GMPE event held last October.


The Great Muskoka Paddling Experience is an annual paddling event held on the Thanksgiving weekend in Bracebridge for canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for participants of all ages and skill levels. The 2019 event was held in memory of GMPE’s founder, Sandy Schofield, an avid paddler who passed away last spring. Despite a late start to the organizing, the 2019 event was a success with 173 registered paddlers from across Ontario and beyond!


The GMPE donation will go to support MWC’s Algae Monitoring Program, which was initiated in 2019 with a pilot program on four Muskoka area lakes that recently experienced blue-green algal blooms. According to Ross, “the pilot program will continue in 2020 and, depending on the results and funding, will be expanded to additional lakes across Muskoka in 2021.” The Algae Monitoring Program uses volunteers to gather information on the distribution, abundance and seasonal cycles of algae so that, over time, it may be possible to identify conditions favoring algae, detect trends in abundance, and provide management advice.


The Great Muskoka Paddling Experience was voted as the 2019 ‘Race of the Year’ by the Ontario Marathon Canoe Kayak Racing Association, the sanctioning body for the event, and will be returning in 2020 on Saturday, October 10th. Will we see you there?


Learn more about the Great Muskoka Paddling Experience at