February 24, 2024

Can-Am musher weds chef at Allagash race checkpoint

ALLAGASH – The bride-to-be was dressed in her red-and-black mushing jacket emblazoned with race patches. The groom was dressed in a black winter outdoor suit.

Tenley Meara finished 18th in the Pepsi-Budweiser Can-Am Crown 30-mile sled dog race Saturday, but early Monday, on a bank overlooking the Allagash River at Two Rivers Lunch in Allagash, she officially became No. 1 in Wayne Bennett’s heart.

Meara, a veteran sled dog musher and registered Maine Guide, and Bennett, a chef, were married shortly after 8 a.m. under a crisp, sunny sky.

About 20 people – mushers and volunteers of the Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Race working at the Allagash checkpoint – attended the ceremony dressed for the 22-degree temperature.

The two had known each other for more than two decades, married others, divorced and renewed their friendship while working in food services at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.

After renewing their relationship, they purchased the Acadia Sporting Camps at Eagle Lake and renamed it the Fish River Lodge. They are refurbishing the eight-camp facility.

“We went our separate ways after dating when we were in our 20s, and found out we had a thing for each other all these years after we were both divorced,” Meara said Sunday afternoon at Two Rivers Lunch, the small eatery where the reception was held. “Now we are in our 40s, we both love the out of doors, went into business and decided to get married.

“Wayne proposed a year ago on his birthday, March 12, but time flew by, and our wedding plans in October didn’t happen,” she said. “We were just too busy.

“We both love Two Rivers Lunch. The [Tylor] Kelly family is incredible,” she said. “We decided a Can-Am wedding at Two Rivers would be incredible.”

She said she had a romantic notion to have her friends and people of the community involved at her wedding. “We celebrate that with our wedding,” she said.

The bride-to-be arrived at the wedding site, a white-veiled arch attached to two spruce trees overlooking the Allagash River, aboard Kevin Malikowski’s dog sled pulled by his 11 dogs. They waited for Malikowski’s team to pull away on the river before notary public Wendy Voisine started the ceremony.

Meara was attended by two friends, Darlene Kelly-Dumond and Ruth Pelletier, both of Fort Kent. Bennett’s best man was Ed “Seagull” Dallas, a mushing friend from Minnesota.

Michel St. Onge of Morandiere, Quebec, the father of a musher in the race, sang an impromptu French wedding song, “Mon cher ami, c’est a ton tour de te faire parlez d’amour [My dear friend, it’s your turn to be to be told about love].

The newlyweds were ferried across Route 1 aboard a decorated snowmobile sled. A wedding cake was cut in the restaurant and served, just before Meara made a toast.

“To all of you and northern Maine we now call our home,” she said. “Also to Matt Carstens, winner of the 2006 Can-Am Crown.”

They were sitting at a window table covered with a white cloth and adorned with small gold winter trees. Two large paper bells hung in the window.

The original plan was for a sunrise wedding. The wedding was set back a bit to allow people to be at the finish line for the Irving Woodland 250-mile race at Fort Kent.

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