1961 – 2022
Shawn Hodgins, founder/owner/operator of Wanapitei CANOE, died peacefully on August 22, 2022, with his beloved wife and paddling partner, Elizabeth (Liz) McCarney and family friend Leslie Kirke by his side, following complications from his brief and courageous fight with pancreatic cancer. Shawn was predeceased by his father Bruce and father-in-law John McCarney and is survived by his wife Liz McCarney, his mother Carol, his brother Geoff (Patricia), and his sister Gillian (Grant). He leaves behind his mother-in-law Fran, sisters-in-law Martha and Jane, brother-in-law Michael, and many cousins, paddling friends, and clients who loved him dearly. Shawn was the adored uncle of nieces Holly (Eric), Kayla (Colin), Bronwyn (Jacob), Frieda, and Althea and his nephew Alexander. Shawn’s quiet strength made him a quintessential leader – for decades he guided some of the most ambitious and challenging white-water expeditions in remote Northern locations. He calmly led with grace and confidence, allowing his trip participants to enjoy the serenity of the natural world and focus on the transcendental beauty of the moment. Shawn also had a sly sense of humour – for example, every time his esteemed friend Peter opened his trip barrel on the Mountain River, NWT, Shawn would secretly hide another rock in the bottom – Peter was baffled by his barrel gaining weight throughout the trip; Shawn took great pleasure from this bafflement, as did the others on the trip! It’s a story that is often shared. Shawn loved raucous conversations around a campfire, a dining room table, or a kitchen counter, discussing Canadian history and politics, and maybe a little gossip. He generously shared his encyclopedic knowledge of the Canadian North with others. As a respected ambassador of Canada’s North, Shawn was loved by many white-water canoeists, wilderness enthusiasts, and northern expeditioners from across Canada and beyond. He spent his life paddling the wild Canadian waters, and more recently expanded his routes into Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Shawn had a formative influence on many young trippers, teaching them wilderness skills, which helped them build invaluable confidence and self reliance. Shawn paddled white water like an artist. He was greatly influenced by Camp Wanapitei, the Temagami wilderness, and Trent University, and perhaps most of all by Liz, his wife of 27 years who always brought out the best in him, and whom he loved deeply. Shawn leaves a huge hole in the hearts of his family members, many close friends, and those in the canoeing world. His family would like to acknowledge the expert care that Shawn received from his medical friends/clients on his Pelly River trip, the Whitehorse Hospital, the Peterborough Regional Hospital (Emergency Room, Palliative Care team, and Cancer Care teams), Toronto Western Hospital, and his friends who supported him with visits and phone calls following his diagnosis. He led his final trip on the Pelly River in the NWT in July of this year and now “lies on the marge of the old portage, with peace for company.” In Shawn’s memory, we invite you to make a donation to the Peterborough Regional Hospital Foundation to support Cancer Care at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre or the Taylor Statten Camping Bursary Fund (for Camp Wanapitei). If possible, please also consider enjoying a paddle on a quiet body of water with the wind at your back in Shawn’s honour.