Mowat’s co-ed dragon boat team in 2013

By Scott Madill

The Mowat Dragon Boat Team was founded 26 years ago with the idea that every student should have the opportunity to participate on a sports team. In its first year, the team had 24 paddlers and then quickly grew to over 50 members (two crews). It continued to grow each year until we had over 100 members (five crews) in 1998. The team has boasted well over 100 athletes ever since, and we estimate that 2,500 to 3,000 Mowat students have taken part in this co-ed varsity sport. 

We have been fortunate to win a number of high school and provincial titles over the years, and several members have used their initial experience in dragon boat as a springboard into the world of sprint canoe. Taylor Potts and Scott Barclay, for example, made the National Sprint Canoe/Kayak team after starting the sport at the (relatively) advanced age of 14. 

The team went “to another level” in 2003 when the school was asked to form the Junior National Dragon Boat Team that would represent Canada at the Dragon Boat Worlds in Shanghai, China. That fall, 50 Mowat students competed at what would be the first of many  international competitions.

The program’s greatest achievement has been the sheer number of paddlers who have taken part. The cooperation and collaboration inherent in getting that many students safely on the water required a number of dedicated volunteers, including staff and alumni.

The future of the program is uncertain. Getting approval for on-water activities has never been more difficult, and the team has decided to suspend dragon boating for 2020 as the board reviews its safety procedures. Hopefully the team will reassemble for the 2021 season.

Scott Madill on behalf of Jill Norman, Caitlin Richardson and Donna Corcoran.