The Godfather of canoeing in Britain has joined twitter. John MacGregor registered the @macgregorpaddle account with social networking site Twitter on Wednesday 15th July 2015, 150 years after paddling 1,000 miles in a Rob Roy canoe on the lakes and rivers of Europe.
MacGregor, born in Gravesend and educated at Cambridge University, rose to fame as a result of his boat building skills – most famously designing the ‘Rob Roy’ canoe – and because of his legendary tales of adventure. His new-found social media presence hopes to inspire and educate a new generation of canoeists and kayakers.
In 1865, MacGregor set off in a Rob Roy canoe from London on an epic voyage to explore the waterways of Europe. His account was published one year later in the book ‘A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe on Rivers and Lakes of Europe’.
MacGregor has so far tweeted a selection of extracts from the riveting first chapter of the book, which makes a compelling case for the merits of canoeing over rowing.
For instance, he tweeted, “[The canoeist] sees all his course, and the scenery besides. With one sweep of his paddle he can turn aside when only a foot from destruction”
He also notes the practicalities of the Rob Roy canoe for travelling in Europe: “Built of oak, with a deck of cedar. She was made just short enough to go into German railway waggons #robroy pic.twitter.com/VQ8Aey59ED”
MacGregor has taken to twitter like he when first took to the water all those years ago. So far he has taken part in Twitter’s ‘Throwback Thursdays’, tweeting: “#TBThursday: It’s 150 years since I paddled 1000 miles on the rivers and lakes of Europe. How time flies… #tbt #travel #travelblogger”
And he’s also been contacted by one of the most ubiquitous global brands in contemporary canoeing, Pyranha Kayaks, who tweeted, “@macgregorpaddle Well, we must say you’re looking good for someone who is 190! We’ve named several kayaks after you…”
MacGregor’s place in canoeing history is remembered through the MacGregor Paddle trophy, which were MacGregor’s own wooden split paddles. They have, each year since 1977, been awarded to the club with the most points at the BCU Inter-Club Sprint Racing Regatta.
The Twitter feed hopes to inspire the current generation of canoeists and kayakers, who may know the names ‘MacGregor’ and ‘Rob Roy’ but are unfamiliar with the story behind the man that is credited with founding the modern sport of canoeing and are entirely unaware of his romantic tales of adventure.