On The MCA
An Incomplete History of the MCA
incomplete? Because of lack of time, space and knowledge on the author‘s part
of the early days of the club And the firm belief that the MCA will outlast any
history because the special attractions of canoeing will live as long as there
are rivers and races to run and lakes to cross.
Minnesota Canoe Club becomes the
Minnesota Canoe Association
began in 1961 when a group of pro racers who had competed for many years in the
old Aquatennial Canoe Derby formed the Minnesota Canoe Club. Its chief aim was to
promote participation in canoe racing events.
This informal group was reorganized with a
constitution in December 1965 and became the Minnesota Canoe Association in
January 1964. The purpose was broadened to “encourage canoeing as a recreational
activity and to improve and promote canoeing as a competitive sport." We
owe a great debt to the pro racers who founded the club, not only in terms of
technical knowledge (canoe building paddles, style) but also in terms of their continuing
service to the club. An incomplete list of names would include Russ Scott, Willy
Kronberg, Alvin and Wally Wizniak, Gene Jensen, Buzzy Peterson and of course
Karl L. Ketter. The newsletter was begun in 1963 edited by Russ Scott with
ditto master printing. Janet and Janice Robidoux became editors in November
1966 of the now mimeographed production and christened it "HUT!” In June 1967,
the first edition of the printed magazine with pictures appeared under the twins’
editorship and has steadily I grown under the successive editors Bob O'Hara,
Karl and Betty Ketter and now Ed Chute. In seven years of monthly publication,
our newsletter has never been mailed late, a record unmatched by any other
canoe club in the USA over the same period.
resin and fiberglass have been available to members through the club since
before June 1965. It has always depended on the efforts of the volunteer salesmen,
which include the late Wally Wizniak, John Musil and now Jerry Kress and Cliff
Lee. Today it is a principal source of club income.
mention resin sales without mentioning the building program would be absurd.
The "old pros" developed the cedar strip technique prior to 1960 and
built many racers gradually perfecting the process. Curt Mommsen built the
first guide model and Karl Neal Ketter wrote up the first edition of the build
book in early 1966. This is a phenomenal activity of our club, perhaps the most
important single factor in its growth.
Incorporation and Liability
continue the chronicle of general club history we find concern about personal liability
for sponsored events heading to the incorporation of the MCA in May 1966 under
the laws of the State of Minnesota. Royce Sanner provided the necessary legal
work as a volunteer service. By this time, the club had already grown to include
many out of state members and was destined to become a large regional
organization. Curt Mommsen was present during the incorporation planning year
and Karl Neal Ketter was elected as its first president in October 1966.
Growth and Activities
Karl Neal’s very able leadership and enthusiastic promotion, the club took on
its present form as an organization supporting recreational and competitive
activity performed with paddle and or canoe. In these years, a concern for the preservation
of our favorite canoeing waterways began to stimulate a conservation movement
within the club.
illustration of growth, in December 1965 Willy Kronberg reported $304.71 in the
treasury. Today it is about ten times that amount. We had 113 members in May of
1966. Today a little over 1000 are not only concentrated in the Twin Cities
area but are located also in Wisconsin, outstate Minnesota, neighboring
Midwestern states, New York, California, Canada and wherever else paddles dip
besides a general rise in canoeing interest across the whole country has
contributed to this phenomenal growth? I believe first it is our building program,
which has been copied in method by canoe clubs all across the country. Second,
it is our excellent newsletter, which ranks in quality if not in coverage with
the productions of the national organizations:
the ACA’s “American Canoeist”, the USCA’s “Canoe News”, and the AWA’s
“White Water”, all of which are published only on a quarterly basis.
monthly meetings are a third factor in growth. They have covered the gamut of
canoe activity and have proved interesting enough to the public that attendance
has gone from 50-100 up to 150-300. Some meetings have drawn up to 350 canoe
we have continued sponsorship of a range of outdoor events in canoes, which
give us all something to read about if not to join. Probably the oldest club
event is the Jensen Handicap Race for club members only. A gut-busting early
spring race, it is always full of tension and drama—a good show to watch and a
greater one to be in. Our competitors have raced in (and in many cases won)
just about every major canoeing event in the North American continent with the
exception of Olympic Flatwater races. Our pro’s rank with the finest of Michigan
and Quebec as the best long distance racers in the world.
annual cruises are quite popular with those within driving distance, particularly
the Lockwatennial, begun by the Robidoux twins in 1966, the Fall St.Croix
Cruise and Builder’s contest begun by Joe Conrad in 1966, and the early spring
whitewater cruise-always full of spills and chills.
else has made our club grow to greatness? In addition to those people mentioned
above and at the risk of omitting some who should be named, I would credit
Terry McGaughey with the vision of a large regional club; past-presidents Karl
Neal Ketter and Joe Conrad for its promotion; and Karl L. Ketter and Betty
Ketter who were always there when someone was needed to print the newsletter,
keep membership records, gather, stitch and fold “HUT!”, mail “HUT!”, write for
“HUT!” , run races, edit “HUT!”, get meeting places, find cheap supply sources
for trophies, patches, paper, etc., plan and run cruises---they did it all and
set for all of us an example of dedicated volunteer service to our club.
the club is better grounded than ever before to fulfill its many functions
under the recent presidents, L. Ketter and Jeff Howe. We are big and that
means some work, some sacrifice, and in some cases less personal contact, but
as long as we all chip in our two bits worth we will continue to have an MCA which
brings us the finest in canoeing and helps us all to find those small personal
events on, in and around water which, after all, is why we all love boats and
August 1970 HUT!