ACA Celebrates 125 Years


What’s happened in those 125 years? Here are 12.5 highlights:


1. First Call—The National Canoe Congress: A general convention of canoeists will be held at Caldwell, Warren County, NY – head of Lake George – August 3d, 4th, 5th, and 6th, 1880, at which it is proposed to perfect the organization of a National Canoe Club, of which local clubs now existing will be branches, and to take such further action in the interests of the pastime as may be deemed expedient.—Nathaniel H. Bishop


2. Sugar Island: In 1903 the ACA acquired Sugar Island, a small island on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence River. It is still the location for annual summer encampments open to all ACA members.


3. Olympic Achievement: In 1934 the ACA joined the international governing body of canoe sport, which became the International Canoe Federation (ICF) in 1946, and has participated in the Olympic Games since 1936. The ACA fielded the first paddling team to compete in the Olympic Games. Notable past Olympic athletes under the support of the ACA include gold medalists Frank Havens, Steve Lysak and Stephen Macknowski, Greg Barton and Norm Bellingham, and Joe Jacobi and Scott Strausbaugh. The ACA shifted its national governing body status to USA Canoe/Kayak in 1997, but the association continues to be a proud supporter of the Olympic athletes.


4. Women and the ACA: On August 14, 1902, at 10:30 a.m. the Squaw flag was raised and dedicated to the women of the association. In 1944 the constitution and bylaws were changed to admit women as full governing members of the association.


5. Instruction Program: In the early 1970s the ACA began its renowned safety education and instruction program. The instruction program, educational brochures, fliers, posters, books, and manuals are used broadly throughout the country and in scattered parts of the world.


6. Adaptive Paddling: In 1990, Janet Zeller came to the ACA, chaired the ACA’s Disabled Paddlers Committee, and formed the Adaptive Paddling Program. That same year the ACA published Canoeing and Kayaking for Persons with Physical Disabilities.


7. Finlandia Clean Water Challenge: Racers in the world’s longest canoe and kayak race paddled 1,200 kilometers from Chicago to New York City in 1993, 1994, and 1995. The winners of this endurance event received $25,000. As a result of the relationship with Finlandia, $100,000 was awarded by the ACA for grassroots clean-water projects.


8. Event and Instruction General Liability Insurance Program: The ACA offers coverage for its instructors, members, clubs, and affiliate organizations. The insurance program supports more than 1,400 events annually, more than 4,000 ACA instructors, and nearly 200 Paddle America Clubs.


9. Clean Water Act Enforcement: The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, seeks to reduce pollution discharges into our nation’s waterways. Between 1996 and 2002, the ACA filed more than 15 Clean Water Act cases and joined other organizations in filing several more.


10. The Official ACA Magazine: In 1997, the ACA purchased Paddlesport Publishing Inc., making it majority owner of Paddler and Paddle Dealer magazines. The ACA later added Kayak magazine to its portfolio.


11. Subaru Sponsorship: In 1995, Subaru of America began its tenure as official vehicle and sponsor of the ACA. With the backing of Subaru, the ACA has been able to support numerous events and activities in the past decade.


12. Coast Guard Support: Through the Coast Guard’s grant-funded programs, the ACA has produced safety and educational materials, including Smart Start for Paddlers and Know Your Limits.


. . . and a half
The 125th Anniversary Gala will be held November 12, in Fairfax, Virginia. Learn more at www.acanet.org.

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