Montreal ice canoe race a nod to Quebec’s past

Click to play video: 'Ice Canoe Challenge'
Ice Canoe Challenge
WATCH ABOVE: The icy waters of the St. Lawrence River hosted 35 ice canoeing teams for the fourth annual Montreal Ice Canoe Challenge – Feb 20, 2016

MONTREAL -While most Montrealers think of skiing or hockey as the quintessential winter sport, Simon Lebrun begs to differ.

Lebrun is race director for the Montreal Ice Canoe Challenge, that took place Saturday afternoon in the Old Port.

“It is absolutely the best winter sport you have ever witnessed,” Lebrun said.

The Ice Canoe Challenge is in its fourth year in the city but the sport has been around for quite some time.

Lebrun says ice canoe racing has been around for over 120 years.

The first race reportedly took place in Quebec City in 1894.

Ice canoes were formerly used as a mode of transportation to cross the St. Lawrence but Lebrun says it has evolved into a highly competitive sport.

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This year’s race attracted over 35 teams who paddled along a 13- or 17-km course in the icy waters surrounding the Old Port and Parc Jean-Drapeau.

In an ice canoe race, teams alternate between navigating the frigid waters and running across ice floes dragging their canoes when necessary.

Last year’s event attracted more than 7,000 spectators.

Organizers hope that today’s challenge thrilled an even larger crowd.

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