Paddleboarder making epic journey across Canal, Hudson and Niagara

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 August 2023 at 11:32 am

Dan Rubinstein says traveling by water is great way to slow down and reconnect with oneself, nature

EAGLE HARBOR – A lone standing figure, on an inflatable paddleboat, is slowly working his way across the Erie Canal.

Dan Rubinstein, 49, has spent the past two weeks paddling across the Erie Canal, going about 20 to 25 miles day. He made it to Albion on Monday. He camped overnight and today is headed west to Gasport.

The canal trek is part of bigger journey that started June 24 in Montreal. Rubinstein, an Ottawa resident, went to New York City on the Hudson River. From there he took a bus to Albany to get on the Erie Canal.

After he reaches Buffalo, he will cross the Niagara River and head to Toronto.

The paddleboard expedition is part of a book he is working about our relationship with water. Not only is water critical to life, but it has the power to help people connect to themselves and nature.

“When we’re on water things slow down,” he said this morning, paddling in Eagle Harbor.

He goes about 3 miles an hour and feels like a metronome, losing himself in the repetition.

Rubinstein is a writer whose project immerses him in “blue space.” He has been interviewing people along the way – some in planned discussions but most in serendipitous encounters.

Dan Rubinstein cuts a path through the water this morning. He has been traveling on the canal the past two weeks.

On Monday evening, he met Doug Miller and Susan Starkweather Miller of Albion. They are featured on his Instagram page that chronicles his journey.

“Everybody has been welcoming and generous, and sharing their stories,” he said. “Everybody has been amazing.”

Susan Starkweather Miller, the village historian, talked about Albion’s canal history and some of the notable events and people in the past, including the 1859 bridge collapse on the canal that killed 15 people. She directed Rubinstein to the Pullman church and its 41 Tiffany stained-glass windows.

“He is a really nice guy and personable,” Starkweather Miller said. “He is very interested in hearing stories.”

She volunteers at the Brockport Welcome Center and her brother is a retired tugboat operator on the canal.

She was impressed Rubinstein took on the physical task on rowing against the current on the canal, and made the effort to hear from local people along the way.

Dan Rubinstein paddles on the 14-foot-long board.

Rubenstein said the canal brings people together of all backgrounds. He has met wealthy people on large boats and others struggling to get by who are fishing for food.

The canal became noticeably more interesting with lots of joggers, walkers and cyclists as he got near Rochester and headed east.

His trip aims to explore sustainability, health, equity, social justice and community.

“To me, paddleboarding — on rivers, lakes and oceans — is a unique way to interact with both natural and human aquatic ecosystems; it can help connect us to this vital natural resource that we often ignore or neglect,” he states on his website about this project. “Standing upright on the water, moving with or against the flow, you see yourself and your surroundings in a new way.”

Rubinstein has a working title for the book, “Water Borne.” He is also the author of “Born to Walk: The Transformative Power of a Pedestrian Act.” The book was published in 2015.

For more on Rubinstein’s Water Borne project, click here to see his website. Check here to see his Instagram account.

Rubinstein passes through Eagle Harbor headed west towards Medina.