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HUT! March 1992


by Dale and Laura Eggert


A location with 4,000 square miles of water, 11,352 lakes, 25,000 miles of rivers, and 141,980 registered canoes and kayaks. A paddler’s dream. Yes, this Is Minnesota and the Minnesota Canoe Association (MCA). The MCA was founded in 1966 to promote the principle that “canoeing is a sport that should be shared with anyone who loves the water and the quiet serenity of the Outdoors.” The association was formed by Betty and Karl Ketter, Eugene Jensen, and others to support the above principle and promote canoe racing and the art of canoe building and design.

Over the years, the members have created a number of canoe designs for all types of paddling. One of Mad River’s most popular cruising canoes is based on a design created by a team of MCA members. Currently the MCA offers canoe plans for about 15 different woodstrlp canoes and kayaks and detailed, step-by-step instructions on building woodstrip and fiberglass craft. Other activities in the building area are an annual builders' show and banquet, a “best boat” competition at the annual Fall Color Cruise, low-cost building supplies for members, and annual winter canoe construction projects.


In addition to the building activities, the MCA is an umbrella organization for 12 paddling clubs that represent varied 

interests and locations in Minnesota and parts of Canada. These clubs represent interest groups such as kayak touring, racing, voyageur cruising, whitewater, and dragon boat racing. In 1990, the MCA became international with the addition of the Thunder Bay (Ontario) Kayak and Canoe Club.


The Thunder Bay club was formed in 1980 in response to a need for an organized body of whitewater and tripping enthusiasts. There are now 261 members in four interest areas: whitewater, marathon, sprint, and recreation. This club has an active instruction program, with 155 people receiving training in 1990 and a junior development program instituted. At present, the group is focused on fighting a proposed dam in the only three-season whitewater site in the area, the “Gorge” of the Kaministiquia River.


Other clubs in specific locations are the Headwaters Canoe Club in Bemidji, MN, the Twin Ports Chapter, and Southern Minnesota Paddlers. The Headwaters Club, which derives its name from the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi, is mainly a social paddling group, including matchmaking.


The Twin Ports Chapter draws members from the area of Duluth, MN, and Superior, WI, and maintains a busy year-round schedule featuring social paddling and outdoor activities.               ( continued)


 HUT! March 1992

(MCA OVERVIEW continued)


The Southern Minnesota Paddlers are a diverse group. Their annual Big island Rendezvous Is the highlight of the year and an opportunity to showcase the group's 30-foot Montreal voyageur canoe, built by the club.The event is complete with a voyageur brigade camp.

The Voyageur Chapter of the MCA is dedicated to paddling the MCA’s three voyageur canoes. One of these, a thirty-footer, is a cedar stripper built by past members. Another is an “original” wood-canvas, and the third is a 24-footer built by the Chestnut Canoe Company of New Brunswick, Canada.


The Unisys Chapter, mainly comprised of employees of that company, is another MCA club. This group sponsors numerous cruises during Minnesota's paddling season. In fact, they have a cruise each weekend from late April until September.


Another special interest group is the MCA Women’s Chapter, which was founded to train Minnesota women paddlers to race dragon boats. Members of this chapter have competed in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vancouver (British Columbia), and Dubuque, IA. The Women's Chapter also encourages women to participate in canoeing.


The Racing Chapter is another group that focuses on paddling fast. This group of MCA members officially kicks off the season on the first Monday after the start of Daylight Savings Time and continues meeting until mid- to late September. They travel to races almost every weekend.                                                                            
In response to the increased interest in sea kayaking, the MCA also boasts a Kayak Touring Chapter. This group paddles on Minnesota's own inland freshwater “sea,” Lake Superior, as well as the Mississippi River and lakes of the BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness). 
 The highlight of their season is a three-day paddle rendezvous in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior.    River and lakes of the BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness). The highlight of their season is a three-day paddle rendezvous in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior.    

The Rapids Riders is the MCA’s whitewater canoe and kayak chapter. Founded in 1983, this chapter has evolved to the point where they now teach 60 to 65 students each spring in beginning and refresher whitewater courses. The group includes 15 ACA-certified whitewater instructors and numerous teaching and safety assistants. The highlight of the classes is the annual Canoe U Weekend at St. Croix State Park. Weekend activities include the whitewater classes, the MCA efficient paddling class, and various cruises. In addition, participants enjoy a pig roast and square dance on Saturday evening. In 1991, 125 paddlesport enthusiasts joined the fun of Canoe U weekend.

The clubs and chapters of the MCA make it a busy group. The communication link that helps tie all the interest areas together is HUT!, in the MCA’s high-quality magazine sent to all members each month. The organization’s key social event is the Fall Color Cruise.


The MCA maintains its original goal to share and teach the sport of canoeing. If you are in the area,

 “Come Paddle with Us!”


Minnesota Canoe Association, Inc.

Founded: 1966

Total Membership: 1,450

Dues: $15 per year (basic membership)

Newsletter: HUT!


Direct inquiries to:

MCA, Inc.

P. O. Box 13567

Dinkytown Station

Minneapolis, MN 55414

August 1970 HUT!


On The MCA

An Incomplete History of the MCA

Author - Joe Conrad 

Why 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

It 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.


Boat Building Program

Polyester 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.

To 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

To 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

Under 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.

As an 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 and swing.

What 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.

Our 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 nuts.


Lately 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.


Our 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.



What 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.



Today 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 paddles.
August 1970 HUT!