CONSTANCE BAY – For owner and founder Paige Munroe, when the Kinburn resident launched Northern Off Road Girls in 2020, she was expecting her business to be hosting events in-line with the female-empowering outdoor brand. But COVID-19 made sure that wasn’t going to happen.
Now, nearly two years after launching Northern Off Road Girls, Munroe is set to host her lifestyle business’ first community event, the Constance Bay Charity Ice Fishing Derby set for Sunday, Feb. 27.
Munroe grew up in Constance Bay and was immediately attracted to the outdoor lifestyle, something her family and community encouraged,
“I was always encouraged to try things,” Munroe told West Carleton Online from the shores of the Ottawa River Saturday, Jan. 29. “I had a younger brother who had Tonka trucks, and nobody ever stopped me from playing with those trucks. Then as I got older, it was kind of like, oh, I like playing with ATVs, snowmobiles and stuff, I like fishing and things like that, and nobody stopped me. It was always an open door. ‘Yes, go for it. Do what you love.’ I was growing up in this area, surrounded by a lot of women who do these things, who snowmobile, who ATV, who fish and go hiking and enjoy all these fun outdoor activities. So, it’s been a really great influence, and now I want to influence the next generation, or potentially, even women new to the area, who came from deeper Ottawa or Toronto, and this is all new to them. I want to show them how fun it can be and how empowering it can be.”
Munroe says Northern Off Road Girls is dedicated to connecting and empowering Canadian women who have a passion for leading an outdoor lifestyle. Munroe launched the business in June 2020, and while branded clothing is certainly a big part of the business plan, creating opportunities to bring community together, women, men and children, by hosting events such as the charity fishing derby, was a big part of the plan as well, derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic which started just before her business launched.
“Originally the intent of being more of a power sports company for females, but when looking further at it, I came to the realization there was a lack of representation of women in all of the outdoors, whether its hunting, fishing, hiking, camping,” Munroe said. “All of these recreational sports you don’t see a lot of women advertised in it. So, that’s kind of where the idea started. Off road can mean all these things. It means you’re outdoors; you’re going off the beaten path; and paving your own way. I’ve always been very passionate about being outside in nature, so that’s where that line of thinking came from.”
Munroe says she has felt the support for her dream since the day she launched.
““I had a lot of really great family and friend support,” she said. “As soon as I launched a line, I had a lot of people commenting immediately, ‘I love this, this is great, this is a great message, keep going.’ I’ve retained those same people – they are still followers today, and I’ve made some really good friendships. I’ve met a lot of amazing people, and I’ve met a lot of women that have similar styles, similar brands, similar companies they’ve started. I’ve been able to connect with other young, female entrepreneurs, and it’s been really building this community of women who are passionate about the outdoors.”
That support has been critical, because months and months of planning, could have been scuttled by the arrival of the pandemic – something that has had a devastating effect on the economy.
“I have had a lot of really good online growth, and now I’m excited to be able to start hosting some events like this fishing derby,” Munroe said. “Because that’s really what I wanted to be able to do from the beginning. To get the community involved and encourage people to get outside, have fun and participate in these events. So, I’m very excited to be hosting the first official Northern Off Road Girls event.”
Munroe, with the held of her “expert ice-fisher” friend Bailey Kausch, have been spending the last couple of months organizing the charity fishing derby, and she’s excited to be able to raise funds for an organization close to her heart.
“I wanted it to be a charity derby because I wanted it to be about the community,” Munroe said. “So, I wanted to find a good Ottawa charity that supports women, because we are a woman-empowerment brand. I discovered Harmony House women’s shelter, which is a Stage 2 women’s shelter. When a woman is in crisis, they go in to an immediate shelter to get immediate help. What Harmony House does, is they are the next step once that immediate crisis is solved. They help women get back to living a regular life. They take them from that survival state, to learning how to live a regular life again. It is super important. I find a lot of people, when they get caught in a crisis, they get stuck in survival mode, Harmony House shows them how to come out of that, to just living a joyous life again.”
This year Harmony House is celebrating its 35th anniversary.
“We’re going to have a representative come out at the end of the day to accept a donation, so it’s going to be very exciting,” Munroe said.
Win or lose, Munroe expects it will be a great day to get on the river and fish the hard water.
“Living in Constance Bay all my life, I’ve seen lots of fish caught around here,” Munroe said. “It’s very exciting. I’ve got a lot of support from the community. I have had a lot of sponsors who have stepped up to put together some really cool prize packages and we have some really cool draw prizes as well.”
Entry to the tournament will be $20 for adults and $10 for kids. $5 from each entry goes to Harmony House with the rest of the entry fee going to the grand prize. Fishing prizes will be awarded based on weight. There will also be runner-up prizes as well as raffles and draws throughout the day. Access to the tournament will be on the public access at Constance Bay Road near Baillie Avenue.
If you are interested in pre-registering for the tournament, you can do so here.
For more information on Northern Off Road Girls, you can visit their website here.
To join the Northern Off Road Girls Facebook community, click here.