By MAGGIE M, Editor, thewedge.LIVE
An exciting, new feature was added to beautiful Murphy Park & Centennial Park, Smiths Falls, this weekend. Nicola Thomson, the town’s former DBA Coordinator, got the idea early in 2017. The 29-year-old outdoor enthusiast recently left her desk job to launch her first business with husband, Chris, on water’s edge. The business name, Niknaks Paddle Shack, is a take-off on her own. The business is a natural choice as she has been kayaking for 20 years.
Niknaks adds myriad activities to visitors and locals in a beautiful setting on the Rideau. You can rent a kayak or canoe and set out just a few feet from the shack. If water is not your diversion, bikes are for rental too. Stand-up paddle boats and pedal boats will be added shortly. All the equipment you need is included, even sunscreen. You can also drop in the water for a swim or take a short jaunt to the adjoining miniature beach.
Thomson is a knowledgeable tour guide having walked the town by foot and navigated the Rideau in Smiths Falls and its locks for 2 1/2 years. She offered aerial photo-maps of the waterways and the town with ‘granular’ direction. She can guide you to the Heritage Museum and the Railway Museum. “It’s just a 5-minute bike ride,” Thomson qualifies.
The first renters of the day, Spencer and Graham, came all the way from Ottawa. The two had planned an 8-hour trek to Ithaca, New York; but, on viewing a friend’s internet post about Niknaks, they set out for Smiths Falls. They were very happy with their last-minute decision.
I watched Thomson go through all the steps with the two young men from transaction to safety. She was thorough, poised and professional. Anyone would find calm trying a kayak for the first time under her leadership.
The park’s snack shop is under Niknaks’ management; but now, it is engaging in some serious fun. The shack is the only spot to quench your thirst or get a snack in the park. This is a fertile opportunity for people to ask questions and plan an exciting activity.
“I feel cautiously optimistic,” Thomson responds to my question about how she feels launching her first business. “I’m a little bit scared and a little bit excited.” When she speaks, you may notice a slight British accent, because she was born in Britain; but, you will not miss her charming manner.
A natural attraction nearby is tiny, Turtle Island, which sits in the middle of the Rideau. Today, it featured a teepee as a related event was in progress on adjoining, Duck Island.
There can be no doubt that Smiths Falls is rising with each day. And that Murphy Park, Centennial Park and Victoria Park, are together one of Ontario’s precious jewels. Now, with the addition of Niknaks it is also an outfitters’ destination.