Monday, October 1, 2012

Remembering Peter Thompson

Saying goodbye to one of our Regional Kokatat Paddlers.  Thanks so much Peter for all your support and for inspiring the next generation of paddlers!!! 

Re-printed story by Bryce Forbes and Tanya Foubert, Calgary Herald

CALGARY — A Canmore teenager whose life revolved around kayaking is presumed dead after going over a waterfall on the Cheakamus River in B.C. and not resurfacing.
Identified as Peter Thompson, 19, he was a master on the river, acting as the head coach for the Bow Valley Kayak Club, teaching the sport to kids with disabilities, and paddling all over the world.

Rob McIntyre, president of the club, said Thompson was with a group of friends Friday at a six-metre waterfall in B.C. he had done many times before.

He went over and never resurfaced. Two friends reported him missing.

RCMP called in search-and-rescue and dive teams, but after two days, the search has been called off.

“We called out Search and Rescue and have not located him or his kayak yet, but we did locate the paddle,” said Sgt. Rob Knapton of the Whistler RCMP.

The RCMP dive team was in the area to evaluate the scene on Saturday. Knapton said the biggest issue with the recovery effort is safety for the rescue workers because of the hydraulic pressure of the waterfall on the Cheakamus River.

“We are looking at our options,” he said.

McIntyre said Thompson always preached safety to his students, but tragedies happen.
“You can prepare, you can do everything right and bad things happen,” he said. “It’s an inherit risk with the sport, especially at the elite level that Peter paddles.”

Born and raised in Canmore, Thompson’s life focused on the mountains: kayaking during the summer and skiing during the winter.

He had paddled elite level rivers in Africa, the United States and all over Canada, winning numerous awards and sponsored by a number of kayaking companies.

This summer, he took on the role of head coach for the Bow Valley Kayak Club, often spending more than 60 hours a week spreading his love of the sport to local kids.

As well, he helped develop the adaptive kayaking program run through the club. Kids with disabilities would be outfitted with specially designed kayaks for the river.

“We have a tonne of young kids come through who just idolize him,” McIntyre said. “This is going to shock them.

“He just inspired so many young kids and his work with the adaptive kids was amazing.”

One of the highlights for Thompson was the 30-metre (100-foot) drop at the Ram Falls near Nordegg that he talked about in his blog.

“Once I got to a certain point I knew there was no turning back and I recall saying to myself ‘there is no turning back now better enjoy it,’ ” he wrote in an Aug. 17 post. “

The free fall was awesome, the impact was super soft. I had a good line and came out at the bottom smiling. The boys both had good lines and we were all stoked to have fired up a drop like that.”


  1. Very sorry to hear of this loss to our community.

  2. A Celebration of the Life of Peter Thompson will take place at Camp Chief Hector, Hector Lodge on Saturday. October 6, 4 pm.

    Ceremony with casual gathering to follow

    Casual dress

    Parking Limited - short walk to the venue

    We will post any additional information as it becomes available.

  3. Please join us in a celebration of Peter Thompson. An indoor ceremony will be followed by a reception with sandwiches and beverages, a bonfire, music, stories and laughter into the evening.

    Ceremony begins at 4pm sharp. PLEASE GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME TO GET THERE.

    Leave Canmore NO LATER THAN 2:30, come earlier and enjoy the surroundings.

    Parking staff will direct you to the parking area. From there it is a 25-minute walk (or a 5 min. mtn. bike) along a well marked, easy trail.

    We will have special instructions for seniors or people with mobility issue so please identify yourself to the parking attendants.

    • A photo to put in a scrapbook for Peter (pens and paper will be available to add words or thoughts)
    • Warm clothing (if you’re planning to stay for the bonfire - toque, gloves, coat etc.)
    • Sturdy footwear
    • A designated driver
    • Optional: bicycle to ride to the venue (trail or road options available)

    In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Rocky Mountain Adaptive Sports Centre:

    Camping is available at Owl group camp (next to the parking area), please see the note on this page for further details.

    Google Maps Directions from Canmore:

    Google Maps Directions from Calgary:


Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin