Simon Lebrun, pilot and event creator
The Bota Bota Montreal Ice Canoe Challenge, that’s him. La Vitrine maritime, the magnificent exhibition of marine photos on De La Commune Street, him again. The Classic Boat Festival, all three editions, still him. And with a little luck, when the Montreal Maritime Museum sees the light of day, it will also be thanks to him.
Simon Lebrun, St. Lawrence pilot, can’t stay still. More than anything, he wants to share his discoveries and his passion for the marine world. When not at work guiding a vessel on the Montreal-Trois-Rivières sector, this whirlwind of energy is working on one of his many projects. His goal: showcase our marine heritage and get Montreal on the circuit of marine cities that provide tourist attractions. “I’ve been to the most beautiful port cities in the world: Barcelona, Venice, Miami… They’ve all developed events on the water, they all have their own maritime museum and they draw attention to their port character. Montreal can do the same! It has enormous potential,” he said.
Héritage Maritime Canada
To oversee his projects, in 2009 he set up a non-profit organization called Héritage Maritime Canada. The Classic Boat Festival, featuring close to 100 classic boats, tugs and sailboats in the Old Port, was successful but it ended in 2011 for lack of funding. In contrast, the Bota Bota Montreal Ice Canoe Challenge is alive and well. The last edition in February generated a great deal of interest: 36 teams of five canoeists took part in the race on the river across the ice, urged on by about 6,000 spectators.
The Port of Montreal is one of the sponsors of the event. Bota Bota is another. This floating spa housed in the ferryboat formerly known as the Arthur Cardin, docked in the Old Port, belongs to Geneviève Émond. “Geneviève and the Bota Bota team love being on the water as much as I do!” said Simon with a smile.
Simon Lebrun, the pilot...
Next summer, on the promenade along De La Commune Street at the foot of King Street, the Vitrine maritime will continue to offer visitors an exhibition of large format photos of the marine and aquatic worlds.
...and the event creator.
Each project takes countless hours of work. “My reward, my satisfaction is seeing people stop, admire the photos and read the captions. That makes me feel like I’m helping to generate interest in the marine world,” said Simon Lebrun.
Access to the river
“People don’t seem to realize it, but we already have great access to the river!” stated Simon. He cited the 14 kilometre-long Lachine Canal, the Old Port, the Boucherville Islands and the Longueuil shoreline, to name but a few.
In his free time, the pilot drives his small boat docked at the Clock Tower Quay. In summer, he drops anchor at Pointe-aux-Trembles and takes a dip in the river. “The water is beautiful! Sometimes there are around a hundred of us in small boats, and everyone goes swimming.”