The funding means sport in Nova Scotia will be more inclusive, more competitive and more successful. It will also allow more of our athletes and coaches to stay and train in Nova Scotia, and in the end, give back to their own communities.

Jamie Ferguson, CEO
Sport Nova Scotia

Katherine Harman

A life on the water, is a life well lived
Community Program

The Halifax Rowing Club provides recreational and competitive opportunities for those who enjoy the sport of rowing and who want to learn more.

Dr. Katherine Harman knows the benefit of the sport firsthand. She has been rowing for a decade and during that time her passion and commitment to the sport has only grown.

“Friends still laugh at me when I question a total stranger ‘What’s your sport?  Have you ever tried rowing?’” Katherine jokes.

Katherine is an Associate Professor of Physiotherapy in the Faculty of Health Professions at Dalhousie University, so it goes without saying that she has a special interest in therapeutic activity. Katherine tried out rowing ten years ago, and about four years ago started the adaptive rowing program. What she didn’t realize that she would be finding therapy for herself in the sport.

At age 50, Katherine was diagnosed with breast cancer. A diagnosis in November led to a mastectomy of her left breast in January. Although it was a scary time, she had always promoted an active lifestyle and therefore wasn’t about to let an illness keep her from remaining active. 

Rowing is a total body sport that is also low impact, so it is the perfect workout. But as helpful as the sport was in improving Katherine’s physical recovery, it was the mental and spiritual aspects of the sport that really drove her to continue.

Katherine would start her day surrounded by still waters and salted air. Many mornings she would race to the Northwest Arm, arriving at the Halifax Rowing Club before the sun had risen in the sky. Watching the day’s light cascade over the water was a transcendent experience.

“It’s a beautiful way to start each day,” she explains.

During the months of recovery following surgery, Dr. Harman trained hard. When she entered into the women’s singles over 50 division at the 127th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, she was in peak shape. As Harman glided over the finish line and won first place, her reward was so much bigger than the medal she received.

“I could hear my name being called and lots of cheers as I was approaching the finish,” said Katherine in an interview with Dal News. “It was just the greatest feeling.”

In that moment, Katherine felt stronger than the cancer that had threatened her life. Harman recognized the healing properties of rowing, and she wanted everyone to share her experience.

Thinking back on starting up the adaptive rowing program, “I got excited when I learned that we could make my sport accessible to people with disabilities,” she says.

Katherine knew that if she could acquire the proper equipment, that an accessible rowing program could really take off. All throughout the country, adaptive rowing was a fast-growing sport, and more clubs were offering programs from coast to coast.

The Support4Sport funding program allowed Katherine to put her plans into action. And with additional assistance from Rowing Canada, Sport Nova Scotia and the Department of Health and Wellness, Katherine piloted an adaptive program at the Halifax Rowing Club.

With the purchase of some new equipment and a few simple adjustments, the new program quickly gained in popularity. 

“Adaptations included changes to the seat and oars, and pontoons to increase stability,” she explains. “As with other adaptive sports, a classification system helps to even out differences among athletes, ours is based on the motion of the rowing stroke: Arms only; Trunk and Arms; Legs, Trunk and Arms (people with visual or hearing impairment would be in this group).”

Katherine is now able to share her love of rowing, and she’s currently coaching a number of athletes with disabilities.

“I always loved being on the water and this gives me a chance to be competitive and be on the water,” says Keith, a member of the adaptive rowing program. “I am now more active and a little more social and [rowing has] helped me make new friends.”

Katherine's commitment to rowing is really making a difference in her community. This year, she received the first Patrick Covey Recognition Award for her excellence as an athlete and her work with the adaptive rowing program.

For more information on the Halifax Rowing Club or the Adaptive Rowing Program, visit


Halifax, NS
44° 38' 14.6076" N, 63° 35' 19.9212" W


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