The “Canoe Crusade for Life” held August 8-19, 1984, from Edmundston, New Brunswick, to Saint John (430 km) met with considerable success.  At the start, the canoeists received a blessing from the Bishop of Edmundston and were privileged to have the Bishop of Main canoe with them for a day.

There was a great response among the communities along the Saint John river.  In Florenceville, N.B., the group was presented with a banner saying “Canoe Crusade for Life” in both French and English, with our logo on it.  This was faithfully hung wherever we stayed.

In Grand Falls, a crowd turned out and gave their support in a prayer rally.  And, in Woodstock, the canoeists were asked to do a radio talk show.  In Fredericton, an ecumenical prayer rally encouraged support for the pro-life cause.

The finale to the crusade was an outdoor prayer rally in Saint John. Approximately fifty persons were in attendance to listen to five speakers, to sing songs and to listen to a soloist, Wendy Murphy, sing “Son of the Unborn Child.”

Four canoeists travelled the whole distance; Dick Deshane from Madawaska, Maine, Victor Forrester from Vancouver, B.C., Marcel Arsenault of Guysborough, N.S., and Mike Murphy from Saint John, N.B. Diane Leblanc of Moncton, N.B. joined the crusade in Florenceville, N.B., and Gwen Giddins from Quisparnsis, N.B., joined in Fredericton, N.B. Others actively participated by canoeing parts of the way, through letter writing, distributing pamphlets and group fundraising projects.

We would not have made it without our road crew-Jim Burke and his Jamie, who joined us in Hartland, N.B. Jim carried  all our gear and traveled on ahead of us to the next disembarking point where he arranged overnight accommodation.  People were very gracious along the way in giving us places to stay and food to eat – put your trust in God and He will provide.

Throughout the entire trip, prayer was of paramount importance.  Together, each morning a passage of scripture was read along with prayers to send us on our way.  At some point in the day, we said the rosary, dedicating each decade to pro-life intentions.  We had a special prayer for the crusade – unique to canoeing; for each dip of the paddle, one person would call “Jesus” while the rest counted, each of us taking a turn to call – 200 Jesuses, on for every baby reported aborted in Canada.  In having an American canoeing with us, we took one day and did 4,000 counts or the 4,000 reported abortions a day in the United States.  The canoeists also adhered to a bread and water fast each Friday for the support of the crusade and what its purpose was.

We made sure that everyone who saw us knew who we were by singing out our song:

Everywhere we go, people want to know, who we are, so we tell them, we are the crusaders, crusaders for the unborn, started in, Edmunston, on our way to Saint John, heading for heaven. Amen

We also gave them a song of blessing:

May the blessings of the Lord be upon you, We bless you in the name of the Lord.

To our surprise, we had this song sung back to us.

Thanks to everyone for all the support in donations and prayers and to those who caused part of the way with us.  Special thanks to Alliance For Life who had the pamphlets printed for the Crusade.

The allocation of funds raised is as follows: 70 per cent will be used by the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Right to Life groups to purchase films, literature, advertisements and other educational projects: 20 per cent is directed towards baby and maternity materials for those in need; 10 per cent goes to Alliance for Life.

The Canoe Crusade is in the planning stages for next summer and, with an earlier start on its organization, it should prove to be a greater success.  Again, active support is greatly needed in prayers, donations, pamphlet distribution, canoers, groups fund-raising projects – even starting a local pro-life group. Please contact us and let us know how you can help:

Marcel Arsenault

Larry’s River

Guysborough Co., N.S.


Mike Murphy

Box 8, Site 8, R.R. No. 1

Grand Bay, N.B.

E0G 1W0