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Duluth Fire Department Capt. Charles Smith of Engine Company Three retrieves Erik Simula's dog, Kitigan, from the water-laden canoe in the Duluth ship canal. The firefighters happened to be nearby on their way to training when the call for a canoeist in trouble came in. They assisted Simula despite their lack of life jackets. (Steve Kuchera /

Canoe journey hits rough water in Duluth ship canal

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A canoeist making a 1,000-mile journey was rescued by the Duluth Fire Department on Tuesday morning when his heavily laden canoe took on water in the Duluth ship canal.


Erik Simula of Hovland was trying to enter the Duluth harbor when his birch-bark canoe began to swamp, despite the spray skirt he had rigged.

"The swells out there [on the lake] are pretty big, but you ride up and over them," he said later. "But in there [the canal] there's chop ... I just kind of filled up."

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