People already come to Ucluelet from all over the world for crazy sea kayaking adventures.
Now, locals and tourists can visit for more than just wild rides.
There’s a new space in town where folks can learn about the history behind the sport, enjoy the true spirit of the sport – and maybe even build their own kayak.
It may be new, but it’s in a familiar spot.
The old ‘Wreckage Building’ has been transformed. It’s now wholly dedicated to kayaking.
“One day, I was walking by and poked my head in the front window, and I had a vision for this space. I saw a kayak museum and a community space and an area where we build kayaks,” James Manke, founder of Manke at The Wreckage, told Westerly News.
Manke has been a sea kayaking instructor for 12 years. He got international acclaim after winning gold for Canada in the National Greenland Kayaking Championships individual kayaking rolling competition.
While he has taught and competed worldwide, Manke was always drawn back to Ucluelet.
“Every time I’d come to Ucluelet, and I’d leave, I’d get heartache. I’d literally feel like I’m leaving home. So, last year, we decided that really is a true sign that this is home for us.”
When he finally made the move, he wanted to give back to the community through the sport he most loved.
“There’s been a lot of talk about this building and how it holds a lot of significance for a lot of elders in this community who grew up here,” Manke said.
By creating the new venue and making it a proper communal workspace, he hopes to honour that significance.
“It’s just a place where people can come and collaborate and be together. This is my way of giving back. This is for the people.”
Manke’s already filling the space with traditional kayaks, paddles, and frames for people to learn from – but he wants to take the learning a step further for people interested.
During the winter, Manke will be running workshops so local youth can learn to build kayaks using traditional skin-on-frame techniques. Through this, he hopes to inspire the next generation of kayakers.
“It will help expose traditional kayaking and the history of kayaking to people that may not have had the chance to ever experience something like this.”
He’s raising funds to make this as affordable as possible, and hopefully share his passion with anyone, no matter their circumstance.
“This particular space is really intended to help rebuild and bring people back together and let people collaborate and share that stroke.”
One small stroke for kayakers, one big stroke for Ucluelet.