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Adventure seekers flock to Ottawa Outdoor Adventure and Travel expo

The annual Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show was held at the Nepean Sportsplex this weekend and there was a little something for anyone looking to get out of the house.

Hundreds of adventurers were in attendance to check out the latest on outdoor gear and equipment, family activities, camping and travel destinations.

Many participants at the show said their experience with the pandemic helped them rediscover the outdoors – and they’re not looking back.

Clayton L’Heureux came looking for a new adventure for his family this summer. An avid fan of the outdoors, he’s hoping to spend at least part of his summer fishing.

“There are a lot of people that are looking for things to do because they were stuck in the house and they found a lot of new adventures outside the house,” L’Heureux said.

“We like kayaking, canoeing, camping and rugged adventures.”

In the almost half a century since Joe Kowalski founded Wilderness Tours in the Ottawa Valley, he says the industry has grown and changed.

Originally, he only offered white water trips down the Ottawa river, but today, that has grown to everything from lazy river tubing and mountain biking, to family adventures and camping.

He is even offering wine tastings and a brew pub as part of the experience.

“You can only live on YouTube for so long and people want to be a little bit wet, a little bit muddy, a little tired and you want to interact with people,” Kowalski said.

“I think people want to be back to nature.”

Dave Brown, who has organized the show for over a decade, says two of the biggest local trends he sees is the popularity of paddle boarding and the desire of people to stay close to home, with many heading into the Ottawa and St. Lawrence River valleys to spend time on the water.

“There are outdoor clubs here, the Rideau Trail Association is here, the RA centre, lots of clubs say, ‘come with us we will lead you on a hike.’ Those things don’t cost any real money,” Brown said.

The Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show wrapped up on Sunday afternoon, with many likely coming away inspired to get outside this summer.

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