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Memorable Manitobans: Donald George “Don” Starkell (1932-2012)

Canoeist, adventurer.

Born on 7 December 1932, he worked in sales until a divorce led him to reevaluate his life. Always interested in canoeing, from 1980 to 1982, he paddled 19,490 kilometers with his son Dana from Winnipeg to the mouth of the Amazon River, thought to be the world record for distance paddling, although he is not credited officially with the achievement. He later paddled the Northwest Passage, during which he lost parts of his fingers to frostbite. He later wrote about his canoeing exploits in two books, Paddle to the Amazon (1987) and Paddle to the Arctic (1996). He continued to canoe, paddling 22 kilometers each day in the Red and Assiniboine rivers. In 2010, he was badly burned during a fire at his home in East Kildonan and was forced to give up canoeing. He served on a committee of the Manitoba Centennial Corporation. He was inducted into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt (1983) and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (2006). He died at Winnipeg, of cancer, on 28 January 2012.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Paddle to the Amazon Plaque (Kildonan Drive, Winnipeg)


“Paddler trekked from Winnipeg to Amazon,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 January 2012, page B2.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 5 June 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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