Trip Reports

La Vérendrye Park: La Roulette

Photo 7La Vérendrye Park: La Roulette

August 15-19, 2023

After discussions starting in May about destinations, Greg, Grant, Jane and Jim finally headed out on
August 15 th to paddle Route #30 La Roulette in La Vérendrye Park. La Roulette is described as a 2-night 3-day route but we added a rest day which turned out to be a good idea considering the winds and the rainy weather. Our route was 45 kilometres long with 4 portages totalling 700 metres. By starting at the Canimina put-in and finishing at the Nichotea put-in we were able to reduce the portage length by 800 metres.


Photo 1

We left the shed around 9:30 am and picked up Grant in Wakefield around 10:15 am and arrived in Le
Domaine by 1 pm for lunch and to check in with the park. There was a whiff of smoke in the air that
would persist until Wednesday and we had been reminded of the wildfires in northern Quebec as we
passed the SOPFEU base in Maniwaki. You can no longer camp for free in front of the office but now can
reserve a spot and need to pay a fee of $25 to camp there. It is also the first year of campsite
reservations for canoe campers. It is about 30 kilometres up Highway 117 to Route 28 which leads to
the Nichotea campground after 29 kilometres. Route 28 is a well maintained gravel road and is used by
logging trucks which you have to be on the lookout for. We spent our first night in a campsite
overlooking Lac Nichcotea – which we were lucky to get due to a cancellation. Grant cooked us a dinner
of fish fillet, vegetables and rice.

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In the morning after Jim’s breakfast of oatmeal, back bacon and French toast we packed up and drove
the two kilometres to the Lac Canimina put-in to set off although Greg and Jim drove back to Nichotea
campground parking lot to leave the cars and walked back to the Canimina put-in.

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It was a sunny warm day on Wednesday and at about 11 am we started to paddle up an arm of Lac
Canimina to the main part of the lake and then with a wind behind us we paddled to the eastern end of
the lake where a campsite was mistaken for a portage.

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After a little investigation we found the carry-over of a beaver dam and continued in our way for about a kilometre to our first portage which was 150
metres long. It was about 2 pm when we had lunch at the end of the portage. Jane and Greg provided
lunch during the trip. We then paddled another kilometre to the next portage of 160 metres.
Completing the portage by about 4 pm we decided to stay at the large campsite (#30-83) at the end of
the portage. After making camp the large canoe party referred to below arrived at the portage at
around 6:30 pm. We offered to share the campsite but they decided to push on. That evening Jane
served us spaghetti with pesto sauce with oysters as an appetizer. We had completed 10 kilometres of
the trip.

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On Thursday after the standard breakfast of orange sections, oatmeal and toast we packed up and
started paddling at about 9:30 am. We paddled up Lac Longevelle again with a breeze behind us. About
6 kilometres farther on we arrived at the next portage of 265 metres. After completing this portage we
paddled through several small waterways to reach Lac au Barrage which is the headwater of the
Coulonge River. The wind had increased and as we turned south into Lac au Barrage we were paddling
against it. We would be paddling against the wind for the rest of the trip.

We paddled across Lac au Barrage and down the Coulonge River having lunch at campsite #30-05.

As we approached the portage of 115 metres at Route 28 a large logging truck passed in full sight in a cloud of
dust. It would have made a good photograph with canoes in the foreground. After completing the
portage we paddled down the Coulonge River to Grande Lac. As we rounded the point to Grande Lac there
were white caps on the lake but they dissipated before long and we proceeded down the south shore of
the lake to our campsite (#30-24). From the clouds forming in the west we could see that some sort of
weather was approaching. After we made camp Greg served us (dehydrated) meat chili with rice and
stuffed vine leaves and sardines as appetizers. We had travelled about 20 kilometres on Thursday had
15 kilometres more to do to complete the trip.

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While the last forecast we had on Tuesday called for showers on Thursday evening and rain on Friday we
went to bed not expecting it to rain. However early in the morning I heard a little bit of rain on my tent
and got up to take down and put the food pack under a canoe. It proceeded to rain a bit but by
breakfast time it had stopped. We decided we should put up the tarp. Friday was our much needed rest day and

it was spent taking it easy most of the day although Grant did some exploring. It rained several
times during the day but stopped in the latter part of the day. Jim served a meal of lentils, vegetables,
tuna and rice.

After we went to bed it rained heavily during the night but had stopped by Saturday morning. Some
pieces of equipment did get wet. After breakfast we packed up and were on the water by 9:45 am. The
sky was overcast and the wind picked up now coming from the northwest and moving the clouds

Photo 8

We paddled to the west end of Grande Lac and then down the Coulonge River to Lac Nichotea. At a
narrowing of the Coulonge River there was a bit of swift water at the site of an old logging road and a

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sluice for logs. In the days of the river drives logs from this area would have gone down the Coulonge

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River to the Ottawa River. Upon reaching Lac Nichotea due to the northwest wind we followed close to
the east shore most of the way back to the put-in. The sky started to clear. As we approached the north
shore the wind died down and we had lunch on a lovely sandy beach just east of the put-in around 2 pm
and were packed up at about 3:30 pm. One benefit of the heavy rain in the night was that there was no
dust on Route 28.

On the way home in Maniwaki we took a look at the Resolute Forestry Products saw mill, where the
logging trucks we had seen were headed and where the chip trucks seen regularly on the Highway 5
close to Gatineau came from on their way to the paper mill in Gatineau. We enjoyed a nice meal in the
Resto pub Le Rabaska in the L'Auberge du Draveur where we settled the trip accounts.

As to wildlife all we saw were pairs of loons but Jane and Greg inspected several beaver houses.

Almost all of the 6 or 7 canoe parties we passed were families with one or two small children in the centre of
the canoe and very often with a dog. One two-family party of nine in three canoes arrived coming in the
opposite direction at the end of our second portage where we were camped. I am sure they were
hoping to camp there. While we were concerned about where this party might camp as it was about
6:30 pm and there were two portages to get to the next campsite at the end of Lac Canimina where
another large similar party was likely camped, they had lots of energy and spirit so I am sure they were

It was in some ways a more traditional canoe trip travelling with an equipment pack and a food pack,
eating communal meals cooked with a two-burner Coleman stove (which allowed us to have toast every
morning) with a fairly complete kitchen and food being hung at night although Jane did bring a small
barrel for her food. We had a campfire every night thanks to Grant but did not cook over them.

It was a good trip enjoyed by all although the wind made it a bit challenging. I had last done this route in
1991 with club in a group of 8. This time I was able to learn more about the area. La Vérendrye Park is
different than Algonquin Park being much farther north and is similar to what you find in northern
Ontario with logging ongoing and fishermen in boats. (On the water we only saw two boats.)
Jim Young

Note: Draveur is the French name given to the men who drove the logs down the rivers and a Rabaska is
a large canoe that was used in the fur trade. The word rabaska is a Canadianism from New France. It is derived
from athapaskaw, a word common to Algonquin and Cree. This word designates the Athabasca River
and its original meaning is "grass and reeds here and there" (Wikipedia).