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April 13, 2017: Dave Adams and John Ceprano; Animators of snow and ice, rock and water.

April 13, 2017: Dave Adams and John Ceprano;
Animators of snow and ice, rock and water.

By Allyson Domanski.

Rare is the passionate dedication to craft found in locals Dave Adams and John Felice Ceprano. One look at John’s hands and one minute with Dave’s enthusiasm and you’ll get what I mean.

Animators of snow and ice, of rock and water, these men transform the Ottawa River north of Tunney’s Pasture into something more vibrant than ever before. The people of Ottawa can now experience the river’s beauty and its glory in all four seasons.

In the warm months, John uses art to bring people back to nature. In the cold months, Dave uses recreation to bring people to the river. Both animate the formerly ignored, under-appreciated riverscape, bringing it back to the fore and into our lives.

To Dave Adams, the snowmobile-driving snow-groomer behind the creation of the SJAM Winter Trail, it’s all about accessibility. In winters past, the vast spaces between the Sir John A. Macdonald (SJAM) Parkway and the Ottawa River were inaccessible. “By smoothing the snowy surface and evening it out, it’s become more appealing to users,” says Dave, a keener by any standard. “Now everybody, from new Canadians to seniors, can get out there and enjoy this immense resource.”

To John Felice Ceprano, the rock-sculpture artist celebrating thirty years of turning Remic Rapids rocks into fantastic work of art, “Bringing people closer to the river that runs through town makes Ottawa so much more beautiful.”

“It’s the people’s trail,” beams Dave, who turns 50 this year.

“It’s the people’s river,” smiles John, who turns 70 this year.

They’re their own Mutual Admiration Society, with good reason, too.

Both developed projects that align with the National Capital Commission’s Riverfront Park Concept Plan, intended to enhance the natural asset of riverfront lands by offering recreation activities that bind people to the spirit of the Ottawa River and make it an attractive destination.

Their projects have the backing of NCC President Dr. Mark Kristmanson. “Mark is the visionary,” insist Dave and John. “We’re the facilitators.” Committed ones at that.

Dave put 2,500 km on his snowmobile in 120 days, delivering his service day and night, monitoring the weather to groom fresh snow ahead of the cold. He crowd-sourced $27,000 since October 2016 but needs more so he can purchase equipment, bring the project back next year and work toward sustainability. His salt-free trail respects an environmentally-sensitive shoreline.

Since 1987, John has been donning hip-waders or steel-toed rubber boots, unifying the energy of his entire diminutive body to exert force on the physics and dynamics of river rocks to lift and balance them on top of each other.

The trained physicist, artist, former nurse and practicing Taoist is a terrible swimmer who’s nearly drowned. But his complete trust in nature allows him to follow its path and create art out of the environment.

He’s gone through lots of gloves but you’d never know it from examining “his tools,” the mangled, lopped-off fingers of a hand dedicated to craft. Both men acknowledge the public’s support, the NCC and that of Newswest.

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Mutual Admiration Society

Photo Caption: Artist John Ceprano and outdoor enthusiast Dave Adams work year round to increase the appeal and accessibility of Kitchissippi’s portion of the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway. Photos by A. Domanski.

man shows right hand to camera with clear damage to finger tips

Old hand.

Photo Caption: The artist’s hand shows its wear.

2 men, table and stone statues at Remic Rapids

Open Workspace

Photo Caption: Remic Rapids on the Ottawa river makes for a great place to work in stone or snow.

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