TORONTO -- Matt Thompson is lending out his canoe to help connect people with nature.

The Hamilton, Ont. resident first launched the canoe-sharing program last March.

“What if I had the canoe at my house and people could knock on the door or shoot me a message on Instagram... they could just borrow it and I could have all the gear for them,” he said.

Thompson said he has lent out his canoe, and even a cart to transport it, dozens of times in the past year.

Michelle Diplock is a community member who says she has benefited from the program.

“It was really nice to be like ‘Hey, I know a guy. He lends his canoe out to people,” she would tell friends and family.

They’d transport the canoe down the bike path on James Street in Hamilton, where access to water is nearby.


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Thompson loves his red canoe. He said he wants to share it with people to remove some of the barriers that come along with the sport, such as access to equipment.

The impact of the pandemic on mental health has been well documented and Thompson said he hopes his canoe can get people outside and exploring their own backyard.

“This is going to be a year of a lot of loss and a lot of grief,” were some of thoughts that came to Thompson’s mind last March.

“Can I use this thing, this canoe, to bring people together,” he wondered.

Users of the program say canoeing is a COVID-friendly escape.

“It’s a great social distancing sport. You don’t get close to people — the canoe is 17-feet long,” Diplock said. 

Thompson recently picked up his second canoe, which means more people can benefit from the free service.

Anyone interested in the program can contact Thompson here