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Canoe eatery staff give $5,000 in gratuities to Salmon Arm Road Rescue

Canooligans’ Lake Lounge opened mid-June
The Canooligans’ Lake Lounge team and Salmon Arm Rescue Unit volunteers celebrate a $5,000 donation made to the Rescue Unit on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. The donation represents 10 per cent of gratuities received by Canooligans’ staff over the eatery’s first two months of business. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

After two months of receiving “amazing” support from customers, it was time to give back.

Canooligans’ Lake Lounge opened its doors mid-June 2023 at 4940 Canoe Beach Drive. From day one, a large sign could be seen inside the Canoe eatery, on one of the east-facing windows, explaining how tips are divided. At Canooligans, 90 per cent of gratuities go towards kitchen and service staff, with the remaining 10 per cent being set aside for a charity chosen by staff. For Canooligans’ first two months, staff chose the Salmon Arm Rescue Unit to be their beneficiary.

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, Canooligans treated the Rescue Unit’s treasurer and president, Dawn and Tim Alstad, and its vice president Relan Johanson, to lunch – accompanied by a $5,000 donation.

Dawn said the money would be going towards the Rescue Unit’s ongoing fundraising campaign to purchase a new truck.

“We started the $500,000 fundraising campaign to replace our truck, which is almost out of date, in March, with a big fundraiser that Fair Realty put on for us…,” said Dawn. “We netted $36,000 from that.

“$500,000 is a very large goal, $5,000 is a very large contribution. We appreciate anything from everybody.”

Canooligan’s front of house manager Jacob Isaak expressed his appreciation to staff and everyone who supported the restaurant as it was getting started.

“The two months were amazing,” said Isaak. “We could not believe the amount of sales we did in the first two months. The community helped us out so much and this is a way of saying thank you, and saying thank you to the charity chosen by the staff.”

Dawn hoped Canooligans’ support of the Rescue Society kicks off a landslide of donations.

“Our community, it’s funny, this little town, as quiet as it is, is very loud when it comes to something that really matters, and it’s sounding to me more and more like Salmon Arm Road Rescue Unit matters to everybody…,” said Dawn. “We really do need the help. We need a new truck. We need new equipment. We’re available 24/7, all volunteer, we don’t get a stipend… we do it because it’s the right thing to do. And to quote one of our youngest members, ‘we do it because no one else would.’”

The Salmon Arm Rescue Unit has been responding to on-road emergencies since 1963. To learn more about the organization and its fundraiser, visit To make a donation, email

For their next charity, Canooligans’ staff have chosen Shuswap Paws Rescue Society. To learn more about the restaurant, visit

Read more: ‘Embrace the weirdness’: New Shuswap business embraces story of the ‘Canooligan’

Read more: It’s full-paddle ahead, as the Shuswap’s Canooligans draws closer to opening
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Canooligans’ Lake Lounge front of house manager Jacob Isaak adds the staff’s next chosen charity, Shuswap Paws Rescue Society, to a sign explaining how tips are divided. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)