March 17, 2017


St. Patrick's Day Weekend FLASH SALE

St. Patrick's Day weekend FLASH SALE - Save $100 off the already incredible price of the Riot Kayaks "Escape 12 Angler" Fishing Kayak in, you guessed it, GREEN CAMO!!

But hurry - there are LIMITED QUANTITIES of this model, and the FLASH SALE ends when the stock is gone, or Sunday, March 19th at midnight, whichever comes first.

Just use the discount code St.PaddysFLASH at check out and save $100 instantly!!
Buy online, pick up in store.




January 26, 2017


Interested in Learning to Paddle, But Don't Know Where to Start?

The single most frequent inquiry we get is from people looking to get started paddling, but they aren't sure where to begin - "I'm totally new at this. What's the best lesson for a total beginner?"

The purpose of this blog post is to suggest a "program of study" to help you match the lessons to your needs, and to help you get the most out of the various paddling lessons we offer here at Grand River Kayak.

We teach two basic disciplines : kayaking lessons or stand up paddling lessons

With-in the kayaking category, you can choose between beginner-level recreational kayaking, or more intermediate-to-advanced sea (touring) kayaking skills.

With-in the stand-up paddling category, we offer basic beginner-level Intro to SUP Lessons if you are looking to learn to paddle, and a SUP Yoga program for those looking for a program to provide challenge, balance and midlfullness while at the same time escaping to the outdoors and connecting with the water that surrounds us!

Beyond these lessons, we are happy to make recommendations of other paddling schools where you might find whitewater or river kayaking or SUP lessons, or canoe lessons.

Your first decision is whether or not some form of formal certification is important to you.
If it is, we offer the first two levels of Paddle Canada "Sea Kayak" Skills certification; Paddle Canada Introduction to Sea Kayak Skills, and then Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Skills Level 1. One of the biggest advantages of taking the Paddle Canada certification route is that you get a nationally recognized certification that can then be taken to ANY Paddle Canada designated school or instructor in the country. Paddle Canada ensures that their program is delivered in a competent and consistent fashion.

If not, then you have several "non-certification" lessons you can take with us.
Never fear, the lessons are designed and taught by certified instructors. We incorporate skills from the Paddle Canada curriculum, the nationally recognized PaddleSmart program, and our own experiences as instructors, guides and paddlers for nearly 20 years. Rest assured, you're in good hands!

Here's where we would recommend you start:

1) Intro to Kayak - everything really begins here! If you are new to the sport, just considering whether to pursue kayaking, or have been paddling on your own for a little bit but want some structured learning, Intro to Kayak is the place to start!! We offer Intro to Kayak in two formats - you can come out and take a single 2.5 hour lesson on a Saturday morning (almost EVERY Saturday all summer long) OR you can choose our Intro to Kayak 4-Week Lessons, which happen on weeknights for 4 consecutive weeks. I don't know about you, folks, but I learn best from repetition and feedback - the BIG advantage of the 4-week lesson is that we cover the same basic material as the Saturday morning Intro to Kayak, but we have SIX hours of total time, as opposed to 2.5 hours. More time in the kayak = more time paddling = more time learning & practicing!!

2) Intro to Rescue - In my PERSONAL opinion, THIS is the most IMPORTANT kayak lesson you can take for yourself and for those around you! Period.
In recent years, we've noticed a real reluctance from *new* paddlers to get in the water
and get WET!!! If you have a real aversion to being IN the water, kayaking is probably not the activity for you. In Intro to Rescue we teach the wet exit, the single most essential skill for EVERY kayaker out there. Understanding how to exit the kayak into the water in a calm, controlled fashion in the event of a capsize will save a life!
Understanding what's involved in getting out of the safely, and getting back in again, cannot be stressed enough.
In Intro to Rescue, you will learn not just the "wet exit" but several techniques to get you back in your kayak, both on your own and with the help of a partner.
We also cover basic towing skills and dealing with a sick or injured paddler.
This is the one and only lesson we recommend EVERYONE take, for their own sake.

Don't be THIS guy:


3) Once you have completed Intro to Kayak and Intro to Rescue, the world is your oyster...we have a selection of "Intermediate Skills" workshops like "Improve Your Forward Stroke", "Edging and Bracing", "Directional Control" and "Rolling Primer" as well as "Rough Water for Beginners" (one of MY PERSONAL FAVOURITES)
OR you might choose Private Instruction to focus on specific skills one-on-one with an instructor.
Either way, we are more than happy to help you get the most out of your paddling experience!

By the time you have completed the lessons we have to offer, you may be looking for more intermediate/advanced skills that include overnight camping, dealing with coastal conditions/tides, advanced rescue or recovery techniques....if we can't help you directly, we can help find you a qualified instructor who can!

If you have ANY questions about the lessons above, or any other paddling-related question you'd like to ask, feel free to contact us!

Ed & Tanya Sullivan

December 07, 2016


"Kayak Free" Kayaking

"Kayak Free Kayaking" is the latest outdoor adventure parody from Mark Odlum & John Dabrowski of the sketch comedy group "The Smart Department".

November 15, 2016


Our "Better Than Black Friday" SALE

Shhhhh.....don't tell anyone...


Canadian Thanksgiving was more than a month ago, and we've always thought of "Black Friday" as a U.S. retail "event" to coincide with their Thanksgiving Holiday, to drive early Christmas sales.  Folks would line up for miles and miles around to get deep discounts, one day only.
Then along came "Cyber Monday" and just today we started hearing about "Small Business Saturday"....
Black "Friday" has now become an entire weekend.
Not to mention many online retailers now start offering their "Black Friday" discount prices several days before and after the actual U.S. Thanksgiving weekend.
The incentive to camp out at a store's front door over night to be the first one in line to get that big screen TV at 60% off just isn't there any more.... Why wait in the cold when you can shop from the comfort of your living room??

Why is OUR sale "Better Than Black Friday"?
We're helping our customers get the jump on great discounts RIGHT NOW - Sale starts November 15th and runs through November 27th.
PLUS, the SALE is STOREWIDE! YOU get to pick and chose whatever YOU WANT from our entire selection of products and services!
SAVE AN EXTRA 20% OFF ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, including all 2017 "PRE-ORDER" ITEMS - Buy NOW & SAVE, and take delivery in early 2017 (in PLENTY of time for paddling season!)

Use Discount Code BlackFriday2016 at check-out and SAVE 20% OFF everything on the website - in-stock products (some at already reduced sale prices), all remaining used & demo boats and boards, all "pre-order" products that will be arriving next season, as well as all paddling lessons and guided tours for the 2017 Season.


*In-Stock Items can be picked up in store, by appointment only, before November 20th, or after November 29th.
All orders that require shipping placed prior to November 17th will be shipped November 18th. Orders placed after November 17th will be shipped November 30th.
If you purchase any Pre-Order Item, you will be notified when your merchandise arrives.


November 04, 2016


Current Trends(??) in Paddlesports, According to Grand River Kayak

You'll notice the question marks after "Trends"?

We've been in this business a long time. Long enough to know that no two paddling seasons is ever the same, and that consumer choices change constantly, and that regional trends are not always in sync with national or industry trends.
So, these are simply OUR observations of the shopping trends that we have seen here at Grand River Kayak over the last couple of seasons. In some cases, we are hearing from other retailers that they are experiencing similar results....but in other cases it's a completely different story.

Big winners here over the last couple of years have been Fishing Kayaks, Recreational Kayaks, and Day Touring (or Light Touring) kayaks in the 12 to 13 foot range.
Customers still seem to be choosing the lower cost of polyethylene kayaks over the lighter (but more expensive) thermoformed or composite options.


One of the most common concerns we hear from first-time buyers is that they don't want to spend "too much money" in case they "don't enjoy the sport".... While we can certainly understand the concern, there is such a thing as selling yourself short - not all kayaks are created equally, and a less-expensive kayak is going to have "less" of everything else (like COMFORT and PERFORMANCE).

The relative safety and stability of more basic kayaks also seems to be creating a false sense of security amongst consumers, and lack of knowledge when it comes to the basic safety gear (required by law) that goes with each kayak purchased. No matter how inexpensive, basic, stable, or "safe" you might think your new kayak is, and regardless of WHERE you paddle it, you are still required by law to have a lifejacket or pfd, a bailing device, a sound signaling device, 50 feet of buoyant heaving line, and a paddle..... as well as a white marker light when paddling in low light or low visibility conditions. Selling yourself short on the mandatory safety gear could cost you as much as $750.00 in fines....
We're not trying to be judgmental here, folks. If you want a basic recreational kayak to use the proper way in the appropriate conditions, and nothing more - then by all means go for it! But don't buy a recreational kayak and then expect to go out an paddle for a day on any of Great Lakes with it!

Likewise, sales of gear and clothing meant to extend the paddling season have declined greatly as more "fair weather" paddlers have taken over the market. Neoprene hand and footwear, drysuits, sprayskirts and the like have all seen a dramatic decrease (at least in our market) over the last few seasons. Hardly anyone we know continues to paddle through the late Fall, Winter and early Spring seasons. Of course, there are always exceptions. But the truth is, exceptions DON'T drive market trends..... that's WHY they're called exceptions.

The death of sea kayaking?
There's no denying that sea (touring, expedition, etc) kayaking at the local level has been on the decline, almost since we opened our business over a decade ago. Sales of sea kayaks have been on a slow, but steady, decline right from day one. We tried to fight this trend, but in the end the customer drives the "demand" side of the "supply and demand" scale. When there isn't enough demand for sea kayaks, retailers will naturally stop carrying them, and manufacturers will eventually stop producing them. Look at Necky Kayaks as an example - in the beginning they were almost exclusively a touring kayak, sales of the Rip series recreational kayaks and Manitou series day touring kayaks have dominated the sales (and therefore the manufacturing priorities) of their company. Hence the demise of the Chatham series of skeg-equipped sea kayaks.

They had a loyal, but too small, following that no longer justified to continued production of the series.
You don't have to look too hard to find further evidence of large-scale paddlesports brands putting moving their focus away from larger, more advanced touring kayak designs.
We've even heard from a couple of well-established brands that where they are trying to hold on to a line of touring kayaks, they are moving completely away from more expensive fibreglass and kevlar composites and are instead focussing their manufacturing on exclusively plastic boats.

Likewise, gear sales and lesson choices have slowly moved away from the more serious, touring-related and more towards the basics of recreational paddling. Getting out on the water an having fun is the number 1 goal, but safety and ergonomics should not be ignored.

The final big trend is the inability for people to leave their "tech" behind when they go paddling - so many new products on the market to help you keep your smartphones, cameras and other electronics protected and functional while you are the water.
Our favourite new electronic tech gadget has to be the DryCase "DryVibes" waterproof blutooth speaker - it sounds amazing, it's waterproof AND it floats!! Use the built-in suction cup to stick this amazing speaker to the deck of your kayak, connect it wirelessly to your smartphone or other device, and BAM! Music on the go for every paddler!

When you shop at Grand River Kayak, not only do you support a small family business, but you get the benefit of our experience and expertise to help you make the best choice for YOU! We are paddlers first and retailers second. We can confidently guide you through the maze of models and options to make sure you make the best purchase for your needs.
Let us help find the kayak, canoe or SUP board of your dreams!

Ed & Tanya Sullivan

November 02, 2016


Buy NOW For Next Season & SAVE!

Shop from our wide selection of new products coming for the 2017 Season, and SAVE THE TAX for a limited time.
When you purchase any Pre-Order item from the qualifying list of products from Aquabound Paddles, Bending Branches, Blu Wave SUP, Boreal Design, Malone Auto Racks, Necky Kayaks, Ocean Kayak, Old Town Canoe & Kayak, Pulse SUP, Riot Kayaks, Werner Paddles at the following link:
Just enter code  2017SaveTheTax  at check-out, and we'll discount an amount equivalent to the HST on your purchase! The price you see is the price you pay!
Pre-Order inventory will start to arrive early in 2017, but we guarantee your purchase will be ready to pick up, or ship, before the start of paddling season! We will advise you as soon as we have a confirmed arrival date for your order.
November 02, 2016


Hamilton's #1 Kayak & Canoe Shop - AGAIN!

Once again, we are proud and humbled to have been voted the NUMBER ONE Kayak & Canoe Store by the Hamilton Spectator "Reader's Choice Awards"!!

THANK YOU to our customers and followers who voted for us, we once again beat out the "big box" competition for the right to call ourselves "Hamilton's favourite place to purchase a kayak, canoe or SUP Board"!!

Once again, you the customer, have chosen experience and customer service over the limited options and lack of knowledge of the "big box" stores - Good for you!! :)

Given the personal challenges we faced this year, this is an especially rewarding and satisfying "award" !!!

Thanks again,
Ed & Tanya Sullivan 

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