Trip Reports

Voyageur Canoe Trip - Sept 6-10, 2018

Voyageur Canoe Trip Sept 6-10, 2018

Voyageur Canoe Trip 2018 03Driftwood Provincial Park was the gathering place for the
beginning of our trip and the first night stay after dropping a
vehicle at the Pembroke Marina for the car shuttle at the end.
It felt like a family reunion since we were 10 of the paddlers
from the East Wind Brigade of last June.

Friday began with the club percolator bubbling away as we
packed up to meet Alistaire Baird and our boat at The Swisha

The mist hung low over the river as we lifted the 33 ft boat
down from the trailer, checked the maps, listened to Alistaire's
advice on our route, packed our gear and gathered for a
tobacco ceremony before slipping into the calm water of the
Ottawa River.

We easily fell into a paddling rhythm after being trained on
last years' voyage. Gouvernail (stern paddler) steered while
communicating with the Avant (bow paddler), who set the
pace while watching for obstacles.


With 65 km of paddling over our four-day trip, we had the luxury of pulling up on one of the many sandy beaches lining the river for lunch, a swim, photos and simply enjoying the beautiful weather.

This part of the Ottawa is truly a gem, hosting sandy beaches for camping and picnicking with the North Shore forested and wild.

For wildlife, we saw bald eagles, heron, various other birds, and bear and deer tracks on one campsite.

LeeAnn's Dad kayaked over to greet us during our first lunch stop and we waved at her Mom as we paddled by their home. Schyan Point was our first night's stay. Schyan Depot, which is now a grouping of abandoned buildings, was once used by loggers working the Ottawa and Schyan Rivers.

This is where we also learned a lesson about the river. Our boat was pulled fully out of the water for the night but imagine our surprise as we woke in the morning to see it floating on the other side of the bay! Boat retrieved and lesson learned.

Our navigators led us to other historic sites each day with our Saturday lunch at Pointe aux Bapteme (Baptism Point) where Voyageurs were baptized as they travelled the river.

Saturday night's plan was to camp at Oiseau Rock, an historic sacred rock face featuring First Nations' peoples pictographs. We were also looking forward to stretching our legs on the hike to the top for a view of the river.

After stopping to marvel at the beauty of the rock face, we rounded the corner to our intended overnight stay to find the beach lined with a variety of boats.

We were invited to squeeze onto the beach and ended our day with an invitation to join our fellow boaters' campfire and sing-along, complete with guitar and spoons.

Next morning, wanting an opportunity to have a photo of our boat and Oiseau Rock in the background, we dropped a very trusting LeeAnn off on the shore with camera in hand. We almost lost Phil after deciding he should balance in the front of the canoe to take another photo of the group. Luckily he survived and we have some lovely photos.

Gibraltar Island was our intended stop for lunch that day. With the river becoming wider and islands more frequent, navigation became more challenging but we finally found our destination.

Most places we stopped for lunches and overnight are managed by river associations, providing picnic tables, outhouses and garbage cans.

We understand from other boaters that this stretch of the river is very busy during the height of the summer.

Our last night would be spent at Black Bear Campground near Petawawa. We enjoyed camping on two sites along the sandy deserted beach. Most enjoyed a chilly but refreshing swim finishing with a hot shower to clean off the layers of sunscreen.

Donning jackets, hats and gloves, we ate our last dinner of pasta and vegetables before making plans to get on the water early to beat the forecast rain for our final days' paddle.

Phil led the morning reading as we paddled out with Les as Gouvernail and Jeff sitting Avant to navigate the beautiful islands reminiscent of Georgian Bay. Strong winds and crashing waves tested our skill and concentration as we paddled toward the Pembroke Marina.

The drivers left to retrieve vehicles, while the rest sorted gear for the trip home.

What a privilege it was to paddle in the path of those who have paddled this great river for at least 8000 years and given us the gift of the canoe!

We all wish to thank Dot B. and Phil C. for planning this trip and Phil for leading.

Judy O-O'R.
Photos by Lee Ann S.


Going over the route with Alistair

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Tobacco offering led by Phil

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Preparing to launch from Rapides des Joachims (da Swisha)

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Fraser's Landing, stopping for lunch

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Setting up camp near the Schyan

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Leisurely  breakfast at the Schyan campsite

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The old Schyan Depot from logging days on the Schyan River

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Paddling past the Chalk River Laboratories

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Lunch spot at Pointe aux Baptêmes

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Looking up at Oiseau Rock

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Looking down from Oiseau Rock

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Various watercraft camped at Oiseau Rock, parting as friends after an evening of campfire songs

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Voyageur salute in front of Oiseau Rock

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In front of Oiseau Rock. Photo by Phil

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Gibraltar Island for lunch

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Sunrise at Black Bear Campground, Petawawa

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The crew, Black Bear Campground, Petawawa

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