Started 1921  

Named in honor of Frederick William Gunn: father of the American Camping Movement, and mentor to Keewaydin's founder, Gregg Clarke


"The trophy sits on a shelf in my living room and is a regular reminder of that summer and the whole Keewaydin experience. My parents and family were up for the presentation and the memory of the award still brings a pause to my father's heart. I was lucky and he was proud."

Steve Lubrano, 

winner 1976




Photo: competitor during Gunn Canoe competition, Keewaydin Camp
Photo: Sandy Chivers

Gunn competition. Contestant preparing to flip canoe. Judge Frazier on the left.

This is Keewaydin's most prestigious award, rigorously testing the oldest campers on a variety of canoeing and tripping skills. The competition is held on the last day of camp after all of the Temagami sections have come in. The crowd of parents, campers and staff that gathers is reminiscent of the hushed crowds at the U.S. Open.


Eligibility: Any camper in a Temagami section

Competition: Judged on the basis of points by two judges. The competitor with the most points wins. Each participant brings a paddle and a canoe, which must be a Keewaydin trip canoe a canoe that has been out on a trip. A second paddler, a wannigan and a double-pack are provided. The non-competing paddler must react to commands only from the participant. No back paddling is permitted.

There are two parts to the competition. 

A) Competitor tumps his canoe in time allotted and it is inspected by the judges for completeness, fit, evenness, etc.

B)  Competitor begins a designated set of activities. Once the course is begun, everything the competitor does is judged. 

1. Flip canoe on weak side.

2. Take canoe to the shoreline and flip it down. 

3. Load the canoe with the double-pack and the weighted wannigan.

4. Paddle out from shore in the stern in a straight line.

5. Turn canoe 90 degrees to the right.

6. Turn canoe 90  degrees to the left.

7. Switch paddling sides and return to shore.

8. Switch paddling position, putting the competitor in the bow.

9. Paddle out from shore and repeat steps 5 and 6.

10. Switch paddling sides and return to shore

11. Unload the canoe without bowman's help.

12. Competitor solos out again and paddles a  figure-of-eight.

13. Land and flip up the canoe on strong side.

14. Put canoe away, flipping down on strong side.

Over the years, we have seen everything! Contestants tumping the canoe backwards (that's the way I like it!). One tump knot facing forward, the other backwards, contestant falling into the canoe while changing sides to complete the tump job, having the bowman jump out twenty yards from shore so the canoe will not hit the rocks, to one contestant beaching the canoe up on the rocks because he froze at the last minute. We average one upset canoe every other year. One contestant forgot which canoe was his, and so it goes! 

       Carl Schneider, long-time competition judge, 11/7/99


  1921 Richard Buck
  1922 T. J. Gaines Jr.
  1923 Harlan Ellis
  1924 William L. Shearer Jr.
  1925 Nathaniel Clifford
  1926 Charles D. Draper
  1927 Francis L. Howe
  1928 Eugene N. Foss II
  1929 Benjamin Foss Jr.
  1930 C. Peyton Nicholson
  1931 Albert L. Stratton
  1932 David Cook
  1933 Edward D. Brown
  1934 Henry Klaus
  1935 Marston Gibbs
  1936 Richard Wilson
  1937 George Aycrigg
  1938 Dan Tuttle
  1939 Frank Campion
  1940 Richard Muzzy
  1941 Stoke Adams
  1942 James Cleminshaw
  1943 Harry Hake III
  1944 Ted Thompson
  1945 Hobie Cleminshaw
  1946 Heath Oliver


George Moerlein
  1948 Warren A. Beh, Jr
  1949 Edward A. Deeds, III
  1950 Charles Foster
  1951 Carl Hilker, Jr
  1952 George Meinig, Jr
  1953 Joseph Meinig
  1954 Peter Meinig
  1955 Douglas Payne
  1956 Peter Meinig
  1957 Doug Payne
  1958 Bob Sessions
  1959 Charles Janeway, Jr
  1960 Jeff Schneider
  1961 Jeff Schneider
  1962 Rick Barnes
  1963 Bill Welles
  1964 Ray Banghart
  1965 Ward Dunning
  1966 William Cavaney
  1967 Matt Ridgway, Jr
  1968 David Celentano
  1969 Steven Bissell
  1970 Paul Johnson
  1971 Jon Webber
  1972 John Skewes
  1973 Mike Davison**
  1974 Richard Daley**
  1975 No contest held*
  1976 Steve Lubrano
  1977 Eric Bates
  1978 Bruce Stone
  1979 Glenn Lower
  1980 Carl Schneider, Jr
  1981 Henry Huntington
  1982 David Steinglass
  1983 Ted Kenneally
  1984 Ted Kenneally
  1985 Bo Martin
  1986 Tempel Smith
  1987 Robert Turner
  1988 Eric Deeds
  1989 Jon Turner 
  1990 Charlie Beyer
  1991 Brian Lechner
  1992 Whit Shonk
  1993 Isaac Arms
  1994 David Ries
  1995 Dave Parker
  1996 Dan Freed
  1997 Brooks Yellen
  1998 Connor Burke
  1999 John Vick
  2000 Reed Ryan
  2001 Brian Keith
  2002 Phil Haigh
  2003 Willy Olmstead

* No contest held due to time constraint. That year the sections came in and left the same day, as reported in Heb's 1975 log.

** In 2001, the winners listed on plaques on the trophy were Matt Webber and Corky Ellis, for 1973 and 1974 respectively. Richard Daley commented to Sandy Chivers, a neighbor, after seeing this first version of this page, that he had won the trophy, not Ellis. How could the trophy be wrong? I tried to find Ellis or someone from that era who could tell me who won, but didn't. Dan Carpenter found a mention in Heb's 1974 log of Daley's win. And Daley popped over to Chivers and showed her his miniature trophy. No more incredulity. 

But the story is not over. In 2006, Ingersoll Mike Davison visits the island and mentions that he won the Gunn, "despite what the trophy says and what the Bible says," Ingersoll said. Ingersoll found no way to verify this until February 25, 2009 when he found tubs containing old files, including old Gunn score sheets. Sure enough, Davison won over Webber by four points. (Daley scraped past Ellis by a single point.)

Ingersoll checked the score sheets for the other years of that decade and the remaining winners are correct. Amazingly nobody noticed the errors all those years -- or didn't believe there could be an error. And who can explain them?

Names collected from the trophy plates by Matt Ambler

Verification of score sheets for 1970s by Bruce Ingersoll

Contribution on rules by John Frazier and Carl Schneider, judges during the 1970s, 80s and 90s

Lodge of Fame

KEEWAYDIN WAY:   Home   Long Trips   Outpost List

OTTERTOOTH:   Home   Rupert Battle   Rupert River   Temagami   Forum   Crees   Camps  

                          Canoes   Keewaydin Way   Che-Mun   Search   About   Contact Us

Maps and information herein are not intended for navigational use, and are not represented to be correct in every respect. 
All pages intended for reference use only, and all pages are subject to change with new information and without notice. 
The author/publisher accepts no responsibility or liability for use of the information on these pages. 
Wilderness travel and canoeing possess inherent risk. 
 It is the sole responsibility of the paddler and outdoor traveler to determine whether he/she is qualified for these activities.
Copyright  2000-2013 Brian Back.  All rights reserved.
We do not endorse and are not responsible for the content of any linked document on an external site.