N. Glenn Perrett
A Paddler's Guide to Ontarioby Kevin Callan
One of Ontario's most popular canoeing guides takes readers on some of the province's best canoe routes. Each route -- ranging from a two-day paddle in Frontenac Provincial Park to a week-long expedition down Pukaskwa's White River -- includes detailed descriptions, maps of all access points, accurate portage lengths, and advice on everything from running rapids
One of Ontario's most popular canoeing guides takes readers on some of the province's best canoe routes. Each route -- ranging from a two-day paddle in Frontenac Provincial Park to a week-long expedition down Pukaskwa's White River -- includes detailed descriptions, maps of all access points, accurate portage lengths, and advice on everything from running rapids to shuttle arrangements.
Some of the routes included are:
- Barron River Canyon
- French River
- Spanish River
- White River
- Upper Missinaibi
N. Glenn Perrett
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: A Weekend in Frontenac
(A full page map and a page and a half of color photos accompany this chapter)
Unlike many canoeists who simply give up canoe tripping when they have children, our friends Dave and Karen Hicks looked upon their baby, Sarah, as a priceless addition to their canoeing getaways rather than a reason to keep out of the woods.
Curious about what it would be like to canoe with kids, but not yet blessed with our own child, Alana and I took the easy way out and tagged along with the Hicks family on a weekend excursion to Frontenac Provincial Park's Big Salmon Lake.
After turning off Highway 38 onto Perth Road, north of Kingston, and picking up our vehicle permit at the park office trail center (booking a reservation for this route is strongly recommended), we drove down bumpy Salmon Road to the designated launch site. Alana and I
unlashed the canoe from the truck racks, carried it down to the dock, tossed in our gear, and then sat adrift for twenty minutes as we waited for Dave and Karen to find room in their canoe for the seemingly endless baby paraphernalia. It quickly became obvious why we had chosen a route free of any portages. In fact, it soon became evident that this trip would be entirely free of many things usually associated with a regular canoe trip.
We made base camp halfway along Big Salmon Lake, at one of the three cluster sites (all campsites are made up of two to four sites, with a limit of six persons and two small tents per site), and making use of the maze of portages and hiking trails that interconnect throughout the park's interior, we shouldered our daypacks and explored Frontenac's historical treasures.
In the area of Little Clear Lake and Black Lake, north of Big Salmon Lake, traces of the Hutching, Hardwood Bay and Green farms can be found along a network of trails. The oldest settlement, the Hardwood Bay Farm, was originally established in 1842 to provide fresh hay for the horses and oxen of a local logging company. After the discovery of mica here in 1880, mining slowly replaced logging, and the construction of the two additional homesteads followed. The Hutching's shanty served as the local schoolhouse in the early 1900s.
Today the parkland's natural oasis is also worth exploring. A 495-yard (453 m) portage lead directly from our campsite on Big Salmon Lake's southern shoreline to Camel Lake and its neighboring bogs. The poorly drained wetlands provide excellent habitat for beaver, once seriously depleted in number during the early 1800s but reintroduced in the early 1940s by a family living to the west of the park.
A hike to the top of Mink Lake Lookout Hill makes another excellent day outing. The trail, also located on Big Salmon Lake's southern shoreline, meanders up the scoured slopes known to geologists as the Grenville Province of the Canadian Shield, a once-towering mountain range. The open ridges, made up mostly of diorite bedrock, have been scarred by three forest fires in the past 150 years, and provide only a thin layer of soil for sun-loving plants such as columbine and lowbrush blueberry.
Thinking back to the times spent crawling up and down Frontenac's rugged but beautiful ice-scoured landscape -- stopping to show young Sarah a delicate yellow trout lily, and seeing her gawk at "Old Thor," the 1953 truck rusting away near the Green Homestead -- my preconceived notions of all the hassles a child would bring to a canoe trip seem juvenile. In fact, exploring the semi-wilds of this natural environmental park with an eighteen-month-old in tow, teaching her to love what I love, I found I was able to slow down and rediscover that canoe routes are not so much destinations as a way of life.
A Weekend in Frontenac
TIME: 1 to 2 days
DIFFICULTY: Easy paddle for novice, especially for tripping with children
FEE: All vehicles, interior campers and day-users must obtain a permit at the trail center, To camp on one of the interior sites, canoeists must have a valid permit; these are issued for a particular campsite for specific nights.
ALTERNATIVE ROUTES: A short, weekend loop route can be made by way of Big Salmon Lake, Labelle Lake, Big Clear Lake, Black Lake, Little Clear Lake, Little Salmon Lake and back to Big Salmon Lake. However, the route has a total of six portages, three of which exceed 547 yards (500 m).
Outfitters -- At the entrance to Frontenac Provincial Park (613) 376-6220 www.frontenac-outfitters.com.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Frontenac Provincial Park
1090 Salmon Lake Road
MAPS: The Friends of Fronenac Park have produced an excellent map of the canoe routes and hiking trails within the provincial park.
Friends of Frontenac Park
TOPGRAPHICAL MAPS: 31 C/9, 31 C/10
Meet the Author
With eight titles to his credit, Kevin Callan is the leading author of books on canoeing in Ontario. He is a regular contributor to several outdoors magazines, a popular speaker at North American canoe gatherings, and a frequent guest on radio and television. He lives in Peterborough, Ontario, birthplace of the famous Peterborough canoe and home of the Canadian Canoe Museum.
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