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As April 1 arrives, Ely unveils 'Canoeber'

Ely city leaders are set to announce a revolution in Boundary Waters travel: a new ride-sharing app called "Canoeber." "It's like Uber, but for canoes," city officials said. It'll debut Saturday -- that's April 1, of course. The first day of Apri...

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Ely city leaders are set to announce a revolution in Boundary Waters travel: a new ride-sharing app called "Canoeber."

"It's like Uber, but for canoes," city officials said. It'll debut Saturday - that's April 1, of course. The first day of April.

"Now with a tap on the Canoeber mobile app, visitors on any of the area lakes can summon a nearby Ely-based canoeist to transport them to campsites, resorts or anywhere else along the 1,500 miles of canoe routes," the announcement states. "It also allows Ely residents to earn extra income using their own personal canoes to transport passengers."

While the need for hundreds of new cell towers around the edges of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness may draw criticism, Ely Mayor Chuck Novak said in a news release that the towers will be forgotten as Canoeber's popularity grows.

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Ely is calling Canoeber the world's first water-based, ride-sharing service - though that may be disputed by the gondoliers of Venice.

In other news, Saturday is April Fools' Day.

It's the latest publicity prank staged by the Ely Chamber of Commerce as a way to boost local tourism. Past efforts include:

  • 2008's "Canada annexing Ely" announcement.
  • The city's unsuccessful 2009 "bid" to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • The "news" in 2010 that Dairy Queen had purchased the naming rights to the BWCAW.
  • 2013's "ban" on all social media within city limits.
  • The 2014 "debut" of the new 24-hour "Ely Channel" TV network promising "all-Ely, all-the-time."
  • 2015's declaration of a "no-drone zone" in the community.
  • The 2016 introduction of the "Original Ely Electric Paddle."

The pranksters took a break in 2011 and 2012.

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