After buying their first canoe in 1942, Chester and Stella Heavner were hooked. So were their friends. After constantly loaning out their red-canvas Old Town canoe, the pair invested in two more and started charging a nominal rental fee. In 1953, they made it official with a patch of riverfront property, eight canoes, and a trailer.
Today, Heavner Canoe & Kayak Rental is run by Chester and Stella’s eldest son, Alan. He and his staff manage an inventory of more than 200 canoes and kayaks, which they rent at three locations along the Huron River.
As a pair of kayaks rounds a bend in in the Chippewa River, the paddlers spy a blue kingfisher diving into the water to grab a fish before flying away with its catch. Nature continues its daily course as people gently float down the river's gentle currents on tubes or propel themselves along in kayaks or canoes. Chippewa River Outfitters helps renters make their own river-bound memories with trips that last from 1.5 hours to overnight. With a paddle or tube in hand, explorers get to take advantage of the river's cool waters and nature's free shows regardless of age or propensity for boat-tipping.
For four decades, Buckley’s Mountainside Canoes has sent visitors paddling through the calm currents of the Chippewa River, winding through miles of natural forestland in Sylvan Solace, Deerfield, and Meridian Park. The river’s clear, unpolluted waters stretch before paddlers during trips that range anywhere from one to seven hours. Maintaining its longstanding tradition of keeping the river clean, Buckley’s equips paddlers with debris bags so they can snag rubbish along the way, if they choose.
Ride the Wave fills its 6,750-square-foot water-sports wonderland with swimwear, boating accessories, towable gear, wakeboards, and all manner of accessories. Frolicking fashionistas can grace sun-soaked, wave-lapped shores attired in Billabong, Oakley, or Quiksilver brands. Slip on a pair of O’Neill Alameda boardshorts ($48) or Fox flip-flops ($16) before taking a sultry speedboat spin around the public pool’s deep end. Boating mavens can upgrade their flotation devices from sandwich bags filled with air to safe, stylish nylon foam core O’Brien life vests ($39.95) that withstands the intense wind resistance of being towed at top speed in an HO Sports Hornet 54-inch tube ($54.95). For more adrenaline-soaked activities, peruse Ride the Wave’s ski loft and wakeboard room, which boast buoyant conveyances from brands such as Connelly, Radar Skis, Hyperlite, Liquid Force, Ronix, and CWB.