Drowning victim had a ‘joy of life’

NANAIMO – Vancouver Island’s whitewater paddling community lost one of its own Tuesday

Vancouver Island’s whitewater paddling community lost one of its own Tuesday with the death of Mackenzie Schafers of Nanaimo.

Schafers, 26, drowned after his kayak overturned on the Cameron River near Port Alberni, trapping him under a log.

His 37-year-old friend’s efforts to revive him failed. The friend then hiked to an area where he got cellphone service and called for help.

Both men were experienced kayakers, and Cpl. Jen Allan, Port Alberni RCMP spokeswoman, said there was nothing to suggest it was anything but a tragic accident.

The news of Schafers’s death shocked staff members at Strathcona Park Lodge, where Schafers first took his guide training program several years ago, and worked at times teaching the lodge’s Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training program.

Jamie Boulding, lodge executive director, said the best word to describe “Mac” would be gregarious.

“Right off the bat you could sense a really outgoing, warm personality,” said Boulding. “He had an extensive network of friends and people were really fond of him.”

When working at the lodge, Schafers took on a number of roles from instructing in whitewater paddling and guiding, to equipment maintenance.

“Anytime he was interested in working for us we snapped him up because he was talented in any department,” said Boulding. “He was good with any age population. He was charming with the seniors and tons of fun with the kids.

“If you think over the last five or six years of the people who have worked for us, he would be right at the very top for quality of employee.”

Boulding said it was difficult to receive the news of Schafers’s death, gather those who knew him and talk about it.

The loss is equally significant for members of the Vancouver Island Whitewater Paddling Society, of which  Schafers was a member.

Dave Prothero, society member, said Schafers’s death is a significant loss to those who knew him.

“He was a lovely man – very warm, very sharing with a joy of life,” he said.

Prothero knew Schafers for a number of years and spent time together paddling Island rivers, including the Puntledge and Oyster rivers near Courtenay.

“He had a passion for life overall, but really enjoyed being out on the water,” he said. “He was a good kayaker and had fun when he was out there.”

Schafers was also a graduate of the Green Building and Renewable Energy diploma program at Vancouver Island University.

– with files from Wawmeesh G. Hamilton

Just Posted

The Nanaimo sign at Maffeo Sutton Park could be hazardous for children, says letter writer. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Nanaimo sign will cause falls

Children can’t resist climbing on sign, says letter writer

John A. Read, who was inspired to leave his former career to become a professional astronomy by the purchase of a $13 telescope, will give beginning astronomers key pointers on how to set up and get the best performance from their instruments at Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting June 24. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Read)
Astrophysicist will talk about getting the most out of a telescope at Nanaimo astronomy meeting

John Read’s purchase of a $13 telescope led to a degree in astrophysics and a career in astronomy

Nanaimo rapper Sirreal plays the Port Theatre on June 25. (Photo courtesy Alanna Morton)
Nanaimo rapper Sirreal and friends play the Port Theatre

Live-streamed concert the second in venue’s Discovery Series highlighting local artists

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, stating that Nanaimo will see temperatures between five-10 degrees above seasonal the next two days. (News Bulletin file)
Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, stating that Nanaimo will see temperatures between five-10 degrees above normal the next two days. (News Bulletin file)
Heat wave will see Nanaimo temperatures rise 5-10 degrees above normal

Sun with highs of 28 C forecast by Environment Canada for Harbour City on Sunday and Monday

According to a staff report, Regional District of Nanaimo has seen some $13.6 million in grant applications approved between Jan. 1 and May 15. (News Bulletin file)
Close to $14 million in money granted to RDN in first half of year

Successful grants include more than $4 million for transit service in Regional District of Nanaimo

Robin Dutton, left, and Peter Sinclair are taking their mountain bikes and travelling down trails in the Mount Benson area June 19 as part of a 24-hour fundraiser benefiting Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Full-day mountain bike fundraiser gives financial support for Nanaimo food bank

Event part of Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank’s Food 4 Summer campaign

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding partnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read