When I found myself in a canoe, paddling in along in Algonquin Park, one of the Canada’s largest and most well known provincial parks, I couldn’t help but thinking, ‘This is so… Canadian!‘ I’ve always associated ‘Canada’ with ‘canoe’ (along with moose, beavers, maple leaves, and universal health care).
Algonquin Provincial Park is just a couple of hours’ drive from Torono and Ottawa. The wilderness heart of this 3000 sq-mile park is accessible only by foot or by canoe. Algonquin Park is truly a haven for those looking to get away from it all. It is possible to spend days out there without seeing other people.
In a way, you can say that Algonquin Park is made for canoeists with maps clearly marked with canoe routes, designated campground and portages.
A canoe glides noiselessly across the mirror-like watery surface
The silence is broken only by the wind rustling among the reeds and the ocassional squawk of birds or loons.
In my case, the silence is broken by Aaron and I arguing.
My friend Aaron and I shared a canoe and we were having problem making it go the way we wanted to. With the wind and the current, we zig zagged our way along Hailstorm Creek, getting stranded at every single clump of floating island we encounter.
“Aaron!” – I hissed. “We need to go right. Right, Aaron!” apparently he couldn’t see the clump of mud straight ahead that I’m trying to avoid.
I heard the clang of his paddle against the canoe.
“Ssssh! – I hissed again. “You’ll scare away the moose!”
I heard him hiss back, “I’m trying, Jill! Stop sushing me!”
I felt a thud as we ran the canoe straight onto the mud island.
“S*it! Not again!”
The hardest thing about canoeing, I learned, is going in a straight line.
This is Jerry, our guide telling us, “You are supposed to go around the floating island. Not into it.”
(No, just kidding. He could’ve. But he was too nice. He was actually telling us how in a few short weeks, the whole river will be lined with flowering water lilies and how pretty it would be.)
I wonder if all of the banging and the yelling was what scared away the moose that supposedly frequent the area.
Your chance of seeing a moose is highest in Algonquin Park than anywhere else in Canada. On the way to the lake, we saw 11! So I wasn’t too upset that we didn’t see any on our canoe trip. Instead I simply enjoyed the sensation of gliding across the surface of the water.
There’s something therapeutic, almost meditative really about canoeing. It’s the lack of noise I think. If done right (aka, not what we were doing) canoes can be eerily quiet on the water.
Algonquin Park: A water wonderland
In Algonquin, the option for multiday canoeing trip is virtually limitless. When I was shown the map of the area, I couldn’t stop gawking. Hundreds of navigable lakes and rivers form a 1,200 mi long interconnected system of canoe routes. So many endless possibilities, so little time.
At the end of the day, Aaron and I made it back to the water taxi without further complications (yay!). As bonus points we spotted a couple of loons, a bald eagle, and a strange island that has been over taken by cormorants.
Strange because all of the trees on the island have been killed off by the acidic waste of the cormorants.
I’d love to give multi-day canoe trip a try someday, maybe during the Fall when the maple leaves turn into this crazy display of orange and red against the blue color of the lake and the sky.
And hopefully with less cursing and less zig zagging.
Have you ever gone canoeing before? Would you go out in the wilderness for days on a canoe?
Info on Algonquin Park
Hailstorm Creek can be reached from Lake Opeongo, the largest lake in Algonquin Park. The staff from Algonquin Outfitters by the lake can help with rentals, water taxi, and logistic planning.
Water taxi rate starts from $25/per person.
This trip is hosted by Explorer’s Edge
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That is so funny – didn't realize you guys kept hitting mud islands. I lucked out – sized up the lake and knew right away, there was no way I was steering. hehehe
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That looked like a lot of fu! Algonquin looks so picturesque and peaceful. I'd love to experience the Canadian wilderness someday. With setting this beautiful, I wouldn't mind going for a multi-day canoing trip.
I went canoeing a couple times but now it is mostly kayaking in western Canada. Actually it can be hard to find a canoe out this way now.
But when I was in grade 8 I had just moved to a new town and family had come to visit our new hometown and help us settle in. My 2 cousins and I rented a canoe. We ended up losing our family members since they moved to a different beach way at the end of the lake so we had to canoe all that way in the hot sun. My cousin and I argued as well and the other cousin wouldn't stop asking "Are we almost there?" and "I'm hungry."
Today I stick to kayaking which is a solo job lol.
Yep, that's a very Canadian thing to do in my opinion as well. Many of my friends from Ontario talk about their portage trips. Just the other day my (Canadian) partner asked if I'd ever like to do a portage trip. I think I would… as soon as I get more muscles in my arms! Looks like you had a great time.
My only experience of canoeing so far was back in 2008 in Jatiluhur, which was nothing to compare with Algonquin. But I remember how nice it was gliding across the water under a clear sky. This post definitely brings back that nice memory and makes me think of another canoeing experience in the future.
Went canoeing years ago on a lake which was great fun and then again on the sea which was fun until it came to trying to get out. The breakers turned the canoe round and flipped me over. There were some young men that could have helped me but they were too busy helping my very pretty friend get out! Think I'll stick to lakes that are flat as a pancake in future.
That looks like fun. I had a short canoe trip on a glacial lake in Yukon some years ago. Definitely would like a relaxing canoe or kayak trip.
Love your hats! I find canoeing really hard-I always get confused which side I should paddle to go in a certain direction. Needless to say I always end up in the river bank shrubs. 🙂
Love it! It does look very Canadian! I'm dying to see a moose in the wild so I better get over there 🙂
What lovely red canoes! Looks like a marvellous getaway. To answer your questions, I was last in a canoe (or something like one) when I was very young. Would I go for days? Not me… An hour or two, with a coffee shop to retreat to straight after, yes!
Hahahhaa… I hear you. Multi day canoeing sounds pretty intimidating. I'd still love to give it a try just to see if it's for me though.
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Jill, thanks for sharing your experience with the world. We hope to see you return to Explorers Edge real soon. ~ Randy
Yes! You MUST come back to Algonquin during the Fall! The beauty of the season is showcased through the colors of the leaves and it's just simply breathtaking. So.. come back 🙂
Can you believe that I've never seen fall colors. Ever? I do need to come back so I can cross that off my bucket list.
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Bwahahahaha! Yes, I fondly remember you pointing in the direction we should go. And I was like, "Yes, Jill, I know we need to go that way, this is just much harder than it looks!" 😛
We did, though, eventually find our groove! And it was a pleasure to share a canoe with you!
Likewise, my friend 🙂
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It looks so relaxing to be there. From from pollution and the busy city life. I wish that once the water lilies begin flowering, you'll go back there and share a photo with us. 😉
This is exactly what I imagine Canada to be like. And I'd be right there with you guys, stranded on the mud island.
Hahaha. Yes, that looks about as Canadian as it can get! I always end up arguing when I'm paddling a canoe or dinghy with anyone else. It's so hard to coordinate! Looks like great fun though 🙂
Crazy shot of how the cormorants killed the trees. Wow!