February 1, 2010

Big Jay and The River of the Last Chance

I love my friends. Every single one of them is unique. No matter how different we might be from one another, the one thing that unites us all is our taste for adventure.

My friend Jérôme (everybody calls him Jay, or Big Jay) almost kills himself every year. No shit. He dove head first in a 12-inch-deep fountain he mistook for a pool. He punctured a main artery in his leg while climbing up a fence in New-York. He was hit straight in the eye by a flying 2x4 while doing construction work... We’ve stopped counting the amounts of close calls he got, yet somehow he always manages to escape them almost unscathed.

So you will understand our worrying when he announced that he was going to spend a full week canoeing down La Romaine, a whitewater river that runs down several hundred kilometers in Northeastern Quebec...

What I didn’t know back then and only learnt some days ago is that Big Jay and 3 other friends had scheduled this trip because it was the last possible summer to explore the beautiful river... since Hydro-Québec is going to build no less than 4 dams for electricity production starting in 2009, hence transforming the river forever.

Not only will it not be possible to practice whitewater sports anymore on La Romaine, but the river as we know it will also cease to exist, being replaced by a chain of retention basins and power plants. Numerous species of wild fish thrive in and around this river, among which salmons and trouts, as well as wild animals. Native populations also depend on the river for a part of their food supply.

Wanting to see for themselves this beautiful piece of heritage before it’s too late, Big Jay and our friends Martin, Cindy and Pat packed their bags and a pair of canoes, jumped on a plane that carried them and their gear up the river... and traveled it for a week in total autonomy!

I invite you to follow their fantastic adventure through a series of videos they created to share their experience, and a last sight at beautiful, wild La Romaine before we fill it with concrete and exploit it for electricity.

And if you are interested with the La Romaine project and its impact, check out “Chercher le courant”, a French documentary film soon to be released.


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