I took my son Jacob on a canoe trip to Temagami. I think I opened his eyes to a different world, something unique and beautiful. A bit of wilderness off the beaten path.
Temagami lies on the edge of the great boreal forest, mineral-rich hills blanketed by pine and spruce. Some of these stands are the last remaining old growth forests in Ontario. The lakes and rivers are pristine and unpolluted. If you travel by canoe, you can connect the dots with a well-worn network of portages and campsites. Over the years, many areas have been threatened by development whlle many portions have been protected or set aside as nature reserves through hard-fought, ongoing efforts.
Early morning on Blueberry Lake
I've done a number of trips with my brother Robert. He supplies the tent and equipment. This year I supplied the scotch and espresso, and my 17 foot kevlar canoe.
The longest leg of the trip involves turning the canoe upside-down, strapping it to the roof of the car and driving north for seven hours. I was hoping for a break in the cool, wet weather we've had so far this month. Jacob is venturing out for his first canoe trip, so I wanted to be able to rough it, but not have to be wet and miserable. He just turned twelve and I thought he'd be able to cut the umbilical from our plugged-in world for a handful of days.
Jacob is ready for launch. All we need is the canoe.
We set out from a launch on Cassels Lake in grey, breezy, cloudy conditions. We took a short paddle to White Bear Forest trails and took a hike into the forest. Jacob was really impressed with the landscape. I spotted some pink lady slipper orchids blooming at the foot of some of the tall pines.
We set up camp as the clouds separated and the sun came out. For me the canoe trip doesn't really start until you get your first swim in. I took the first chance and went in. The water is unbelievably clean and refreshing.
I put aside my sketchbook on this trip. Jacob and I decided to see how many fish we could catch.
Camp humour. My brother nearly took the end of his thumb off chopping wood for our fire. Once we bandaged it up and cooked dinner it was time for some cheap shots.
Success! This one took three attempts to land. By the time I got it, it was too late to cook it up.
We woke up in a misty cloudbank where the horizon over the water completely vanished. The sun rose, slowly burning off the fog, revealing patches of shoreline and water.
We paddled about 5 km over a lake without a ripple. Cooked up some lunch and then portaged about 700 m into Blueberry Lake. Absolutely nobody around. We set up camp on a gorgeous site, great for swimming and a fire pit perched up on a huge boulder overlooking the lake. The only problem: fish weren't biting, but the deer flies were.
I really have to thank Robert for finding this lake. There really aren't many places like this left.
We had a bit of a tough go on the way back. The wind kicked up some whitecaps and waves on the homestretch, but I've never been on a canoe trip without a good headwind. It was worth it to hear how excited Jake was when he dipped his cup in the lake and tasted the water.