Nova Scotia

$5M Banook Canoe Club makeover underway

Renovations will include larger decks that will be fully accessible, making it much more inclusive for anyone with mobility issues. Club executives say the massive renovation will not impact summer programming in 2024.

Massive renovation will not impact summer programming in 2024, club executives say

A red house-like building by a lake
The oldest part of the Banook Canoe Club in Dartmouth, N.S., has been raised on supports so that its foundation can be replaced as part of a $5-million upgrade. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The Banook Canoe Club in Dartmouth, N.S., looks very different these days.

As soon as the paddling season wrapped up, work began on an ambitious renovation project that will transform the club. The oldest part of the club that was built in 1903 is now about three metres up in the air on supports. The structure's foundation is being totally redone.

"That has to be removed and rebuilt," said Deborah Windsor, a member of the Banook Canoe Club renovation committee. "Part of the building on the side has been removed."

That's just the beginning of what will be a busy winter at the club that has been the focal point of paddling on the shores of Lake Banook for more than a century. A small section that connected the two main structures has also been taken out and work crews are now focusing on preparing a new foundation and then lowering the structure down from its supports.

When the idea of a club renovation was first conceived it was a $3.5-million job. Now that price has grown to $5 million. The project was kick-started by $3 million from the provincial government. Other governments have also kicked in funding, but the club still needs to raise $1.1 million through its Paddles Up Capital Campaign.

"We just recently received a $10,000-shopping spree gift from Mic Mac Mall and we are using Rafflebox for that," said Windsor. "We'll continue with our fundraising and hopefully we'll hit that $5-million mark that's required."

a red house-like building with docks at a lake.
This artist's rendering shows what the Banook Canoe Club will look like following the renovation work. (Submitted by Banook Canoe Club)

Renovations will include larger decks that will be fully accessible, making it much more inclusive for anyone with mobility issues.

"From a community perspective I think these renovations are huge and it will be transformative," said Jacob Woods, a Banook paddler who competes in the Para Canoe Division. "As a person with a physical disability, the upgrades are going to open up so many doors to so many youth and individuals with disabilities who will be able to come out here and participate."

Because the older part of the club has a heritage designation, plans first had to be submitted and approved by the Halifax Regional Municipality.

A red house-like building next to a lake.
The old section of the Banook Canoe Club is currently raised up well above lake level. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

"It is going to look very much the same and that is the heritage part of the project," said Windsor. "It's very important we maintain the look of the building because it's an iconic building for the paddling community."

The foundation work to be completed this winter is part of the first phase of the construction plan.

The Banook Canoe Club, one of four clubs on Lake Banook, is extremely busy in the summer months with the majority of its 600 members being youth under 16.

The members of the club executive say no programming next summer should be interrupted by the renovations.

The south end of Lake Banook will have a different look once the renovations are complete because both the Banook Canoe Club and the nearby judges' tower will be newly upgraded.

In addition to local sports clubs, Lake Banook has been the venue of a number of international events including the 2022 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships and the North American Indigenous Games in 2023.


  • We initially reported that the club received $3 million in federal money. In fact, that funding came from the provincial government.
    Dec 01, 2023 3:57 PM AT


Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across Nova Scotia for 30 years.