Wild Winds of Nova Scotia

The Canso Causeway, Nova Scotia

When we paddled across Canada, we vowed we would come back to visit some special places and reconnect with people that were just as special. One of those places is Nova Scotia, a province surrounded by ocean, spectacular cliffs, long stretches of sandy beaches and seals sunning themselves on sand bars. 

Planning our trip to Nova Scotia, we did not anticipate the arrival of Hurricane Larry. We fully expected the hurricane to blow further out into the Atlantic Ocean toward Newfoundland before we reached Nova Scotia.

Driving into the province we encountered a day of rain with some areas predicting to receive 50 to 80 mm of precipitation. After listening to the weather forecast announcing clear skies for the next day, we chose to spend the night stretched in the back of the car with the seats folded flat, keeping us and our equipment high and dry. 

The following day with the weather moving further northward and to the east, the skies were clear and bright. We set out from the small cove at West Linwood and prepared to round Cape Jack only to be forced off the water onto a long cobble beach due to the strong wind. Here we spent the remainder of the day and night.

Our intent now was to leave very early in the morning, hoping for calmer winds. Listening to the wind blow all night we realized at 3 a.m. it had stopped. Dawning our headlights we awoke and prepared breakfast and arranged our gear to head out. Calm water awaited us and we paddled down the coast around Cape Jack and into the Strait of Canso through the Canso lock, all before noon to avoid the forecasted increase in the winds.

The Strait of Canso is a deep, narrow channel separating the Nova Scotian mainland from Cape Breton Island. The strait connects Chedabucto Bay on the Atlantic Ocean to St. George’s Bay on the Northumberland Strait, a sub-basin of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Canso lock consists of two sets of gates to compensate for the difference in water levels otherwise, strong currents would make safe navigation impossible. Water levels, due to tidal differences at either end of the Canso Canal, can vary as much as a metre.

As the winds increased, we found refuge at Pirates Harbour where we hunkered down for the rest of the day and night, nicely protected from the strong wind. This was going to be our routine for the remainder of the paddle. Arise very early in the morning and paddle in the calm covering distance before the late morning, early afternoon winds arrived. 

Lighthouse at St. Peters, Cape Breton Island

Three days and eighty kilometres later we arrived at the cobble beach at Battery Provincial Park at St. Peters, early in the morning before the winds increased again. After a planned week of rest and touring we will be heading to the 100 Wild Islands on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia where another adventure awaits us!


We had lots of fun at our book signing event at Kingston’s Memorial Centres Farmers’ Market this month! The event was hosted at the Loving Spoonful ‘Grow a Row’ booth. Not only did we sign books, but throughout the day we watched our canoe fill up with surplus garden produce donated from generous backyard growers and farmers. Then all the abundance of fresh food was distributed to Loving Spoonful partner agencies. How awesome is that! Staff and volunteers work hard at Loving Spoonfuls to ensure everyone has access to fresh, good food! If you have extra garden goodies, don’t let them go to waste! Bring it to the Kingston Public Market Saturdays from 1-5 pm; Sundays from 9 am-2 pm at Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market; and Tuesdays from 5 pm-7 pm at Raxx Billiards Bar & Grill parking lot.

No garden produce? If you are willing and able, you can also donate to Loving Spoonful ongoing support of community programs or why not consider volunteering your time!

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Mark your Calendars!

October 19th is the date! We are honoured to be a guest on the Canoehound Adventure Show! Be sure to join Dennis Rogers live on YouTube every Tuesday between 7 and 9 pm as he chats with enthusiasts passionate about the great outdoors. Listen as he covers some really great topics of canoeing, camping, bushcrafting and adventuring!


Canoe for Change: A Journey Across Canada

If you have not already purchased a copy of our recently published book for yourself or you would like to buy a copy for your family and/or friends, click the link below to get your copy today!

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The Spanish Forest

Winnie Lake

Biscotasing Loop

Off to the Spanish Forest region, northwest of Sudbury, Ontario! The weather forecast at home was once again calling for hot humid weather – what better time to get outdoors and on the water!

The trip would take us ten days and cover approximately one hundred kilometres. The route was taken from Kevin Callan’s book ‘Top 60 Canoe Routes of Ontario’. The author did a slight variation of this route due to low water levels he experienced that season; lack of water made it difficult for him to navigate and travel on many of the creeks that lay ahead and caused him to deviate from the original plan. For us the water levels were way up and things looked promising. We planned to complete the entire loop including a day of leisure as time allowed.

Starting at Biscotasing General Store looping south down Biscotasing Lake with its many islands into Indian Lake and Mozhabong Lake where the waters are emerald green and clear. We crossed over to Sinaminda Lake and headed north through the narrow openings of Sinaminda Creek. The region encompases one of the worlds largest old-growth forests consisting of large Red and White Pine trees that cover the spectacular steep rocky shores along the lake. Making our way into Alton Lake, Winnie Lake and Mishap Creek then into Houghton Lake following the lake as it runs parallel to railway tracks before flowing under the rail line.

Houghton Lake Railway Tunnel

Throw in the unmaintained portage or sometimes a missing or non-existent portage; an old snowmobile trail claiming to be a portage then add some marshy and mucky footing on the trails and all in all it was a great trip. One portage worth mentioning was a 700-metre trek through a swamp. In the pouring rain and burdened down with heavy packs we slogged up to our ankles in water following a moose track along a trickle of water through a peat-like bog.

Mozhabong to Dusty Lake Portage – nothing glamorous about this!
Attempting to locate a non-existent portage on Sinaminda Creek

Hot and hazy weather, frequent rain showers followed us for the first several days complete with a violent thunderstorm that caught us completely off guard just as we were trying to enjoy dinner one evening. We had arrived at Alton Lake mid-afternoon and spent the next hour searching for a spot to establish camp. With recent wind damage, some sites were non-existent with tree blowdown or overgrown from lack of use. We located the only site we could find, along the narrow arm opening of the west branch of Alton Lake and set up camp erecting tarps in preparation for another evening of rain.

A few days ago we met a great bunch of guys – a group of six paddlers including Dennis Rogers, the YouTube producer and celebrity of ‘Canoehound Adventures’. They had entered the Spanish Forest region from the south and were doing a variation of the route in reverse. We expected to cross paths later in the trip as they headed back south and we headed north. With our dinner prepared and almost ready to consume, a hot blowing wind from the south suddenly switched and started blowing from the north. With this sudden change, we heard an incredibly loud noise which caused us to look up at the narrow opening of the lake to witness a wall of rain bearing down on us. Seconds later the rain hit us like a wave, our canoe which we secured to a tree, was forced tight by the wind against two trees behind it. The rain continued to come in sheets, causing white caps to appear on the lake, and in fifteen minutes it reduced itself to steady rainfall. We quickly cleaned the meal dishes and retired into the shelter of our tent. About an hour later, with darkness approaching, we heard voices, and the group of six were making their way down the lake. They looked exhausted and soaking wet. It turned out they had been paddling and portaging for eleven hours and were on the water at the time the storm hit. It took little convincing on our part to offer and share our small site. They quickly assembled their tents and changed into drier clothes. We assisted by boiling a large pot of water and the group had a quick meal of hot soup. Sleep came easy for them that night. The next morning, while enjoying freshly brewed coffee, we shared stories, route logistics and spoke of our common love of this wild land.

Comradery in the wilderness is a great connection and we hope for a lasting friendship. Yes, the best trips are not without challenges and the easy uneventful trips sometimes one does not remember.

Dennis, Jay, Owen Glenn, Rick, Seth, Nash and 2 pooches behind the scenes, Wiley and Mollie

Check out Canoehound Adventures!

Canoehound Adventures is a website for people interested in canoeing, camping, bushcrafting and the great outdoors. Dennis Rogers has some really great videos you can check out on his popular YouTube Channel!


Chili – A Favourite Backcountry Camp Recipe!

Get the chill out of your bones on a rainy day with an easy to make Chili con carne recipe! With all dehydrated ingredients prepared at home, the meal is ideal to whip up for one of those challenging days in the wilderness when you are too tired to do a lot of meal preparation.

  • water – approximately 4 cups (909 mL)
  • 1/4 cup (57 mL) red quinoa
  • 1/3 cup (76 mL) of the folllowing dehydrated ingredients: red kidney beans, chickpeas, brown beans, black beans, corn, mushrooms, sweet peppers
  • 1/3 cup (76 mL) dehydrated tomato leather
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) of chili pepper
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) each of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) of garlic
  • TVP, ground beef, or dried sausage  (optional)

At camp boil the quinoa for 7 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients bring to a boil and let rest for 20 minutes or longer.  Serves 4.

Tip: To save precious fuel, food is cooked in a pot until it reaches boiling point and then the heat source is removed. The pot is placed in a Hot Pot Cookware Insulator (much like a tea cosy) leaving the food to cook/steam itself to perfection!

Check out more of our backcountry camp recipes here!


Canoe for Change: A Journey Across Canada

If you have not already purchased a copy of our recently published book or you would like to buy a copy for your family and/or friends, follow this link to our website Canoe for Change.ca

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Adventures of a Canoe Cart

Our canoe cart has a long history with us, and with this history many adventures. It is a piece of equipment we could not do without. We acquired this cart from a young man who thanked us for assisting him with his financial situation. We had previously rented a canoe cart for an excursion and mentioned to the young man how easy it was to reach our portage by pushing the cart down an old abandoned logging road to reach our designated water system. As gratitude, we were presented with a collapsible canoe cart with removable wheels. So begins our attachment to our canoe cart.

Wolfe Island Ferry, Kingston, Ontario

The cart made the logistics simple for us to do certain trips. On an outing with one of our granddaughters, we placed our canoe on the cart and walked to the Wolfe Island Ferry. Avoiding the long vehicle line, we stood and waited our turn with other pedestrians and cyclists to board the ferry, eager to start our adventure. The deckhand informed us he had never loaded a canoe onto the ferry on a cart before. After conversing with his supervisor, he said it was similar to a bicycle so parking it with the other cyclists was easy. Once at Wolfe Island, we made our way to the shoreline, disassembled and stowed the cart. We set out to paddle back to Kingston, but not before spending the night in our tent at Cedar Island, one of the many islands of the Saint Lawrence Islands National Park system.

Some time ago someone thought they needed our cart more than we did and attempted to hide it in order to steal it from us while we were on a backcountry outing. We did find it after many hours of persistent searching. Now, whenever we are on an outing we always lock it to a tree, off the trail, with a bicycle chain.

The cart served us well on our cross-Canada canoe trip as we navigated in and out of waterways that were obstructed by large hydroelectric dams contained within massive fenced-in areas. We relentlessly carted down roadways on days that were too windy to be safe on the water on the east coast and in western Canada to push and pull our canoe over the Rocky Mountain range. 

Crows Nest Highway, British Columbia
Mactaquac Dam on Saint John River, New Brunswick

From years of usage, the canoe cart tires and tubes have been changed. The paint has faded, it is worn and battered-looking (much like us) but it still works well, ready to take us on more adventures!


Biscotasing Lake Canoe Trip

Biscotasing Lake in northern Ontario, approximately a four-hour drive north of Sudbury, is where our next adventure will start. From Kevin Callan’s book ‘Top 60 Canoe Routes of Ontario’ we singled out a route that will take us to an area of crown land that we have not traversed before. The portages are not marked or maintained and we expect to do a little bushwhacking to get from one lake to another – but that is all part of the adventure of discovering new places. We may wander off the route to a scenic neighbouring lake or water system to take in the beauty of a special spot for a couple of days – who knows we may find another favourite place to paddle!


Canoe for Change: A Journey Across Canada

If you have not already purchased a copy of our recently published book or you would like to buy a copy for your family and/or friends, follow this link to our website Canoe for Change.ca


Last month we wrote a blog called ‘The Missing Canoe’. Since that time, Zack at Frontenac Outfitters has produced a fun video explaining some practical safety recommendations. For those interested, check out the YouTube video! “Zack shows you the 5 things you need to be ‘legal’ on the water, along with some items that actually help keep you safe on the water”. You can purchase your safety equipment at Frontenac Outfitters, and while you are there, pick up a copy of our book from their shelf as well!

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The Missing Canoe

Temagami

We are off to our favourite camping spot! A piece of paradise on a beautiful lake that rarely sees another soul except for the odd wildlife that wanders through during the early morning hours. A special retreat that is worth the challenge endured getting there. With cart trails converted from old logging roads, portages from hell and bugs swarming through the swampy creeks and marshes it is worth every drop of sweat to get to. As with any remote location, extra care is needed to stay safe. This brings us to recount an incident that happened last year (2020) shortly after the first wave of the pandemic had dissipated.

Even the most experienced paddlers have had an embarrassing moment, but few will admit to it. Whether we tell the tale or not, we all learn from it. That moment is “the missing canoe”.

For us, it happened in another great location in Temagami on a day with little to no wind. After a full day of paddling, we were ready to establish camp on an island with a beautiful view of the lake ahead of us. Pulling our loaded canoe up onto the smooth rock we proceeded to unload our packs and haul the gear towards the centre of the island. The moment the canoe was empty and our backs were turned, a stiff wind made its way down the lake and gently pushed the canoe back into the water, only to blow it further away. A short but frantic chase ensued as the canoe seemed to fly down the lake as it skimmed along the surface. As hard as we tried we could not swim fast enough to catch it, and watched it vanish from our sight. Once we swam back to the island we resigned to the fact that we were safe, had all our gear and enough food to wait for days if required. 

With no cell reception to request assistance, the hours passed slowly. Finally, a canoe appeared at the opposite end of the lake, and we were able to get the attention of the paddlers by flashing our compass mirror. We were embarrassed but extremely grateful, as they transported us down the lake to find the lost canoe several kilometres away. We are now even more diligent in tying off the canoe as we step out, and securing it moments later by a rope to a tree no matter where we are. It is much more fun paddling a canoe rather than chasing after it!

Some hints to avoid losing your canoe!

1) Secure your canoe or kayak to a tree or rock, even if it is out of the water.
2) If in a current or strong wind, face the bow of your boat upstream or against the wind to safely exit the canoe.
3) Cell service is not usually available when in the backcountry! In the event of a potential emergency (and for peace of mind) consider taking an alternate communication device like a SPOT Tracker, inReach or Satellite phone.
4) Be knowledgeable of your surroundings at all times. 
5) Always have an emergency contact who has your route information and dates that you will be away.
6) Mishaps can happen anytime, but more so when overtired, overconfident or when exposed to weather/natural events.
7) In addition, read Transport Canada information on Mandatory Safety Equipment.


In The News

We were delighted to be interviewed by Global TV and CTV this past week interested in our recently published book: ‘Canoe for Change: A Journey Across Canada‘!  

To watch the interview with Maegan Kulchar of Global News CKWS Morning Show in Kingston click: Kingston couple documents their journey canoeing across Canada through a new book.  

OR with Annette Goerner of CTV Morning Live in Ottawa click here.

You can purchase a copy of our recently published book by visiting our website Canoe for Change: A Journey Across Canada.


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Books, Camping and Paddles!

Books!

The long wait is over! After sixteen months of work and the amazing support of many, our anticipated book order arrived at the door! If you want a sneak preview, check out the first twenty pages at Goodreads! To purchase your own copy, visit our website Canoe for Change: A Journey Across Canada.


Camping!

A rare sandy beach along the shores of Georgian Bay.
The Old Voyageur Channel. Narrow passages through corridors of rock faces resembling miniature canyons.   
Wind-bound at Big Rock Bay, Philip Edward Island!

The first significant paddle of 2021 under our belt, short as it may seem, was extremely rewarding. Ten wonderful days along the beautiful Georgian Bay coastline, Ontario’s inland sea.

Circumventing Philip Edward Island, paddling down and into the Old Voyageur Channel of the French River and back. Exploring every cove and bay we could find. One could get lost for hours absorbed in the sights of weathered islands and old-growth Pines. Pines that are firmly establishing their existence rooted into the smooth rock surface. We even located an old wooden boat hull submerged in a bay most likely the result of a violent encounter with a storm from decades ago.

The area is an exciting maze of islands called The Foxes, Hawk Islands and The Chickens among others. The land here is extremely sensitive, unregulated and not maintained in any way. It is important to accept the responsibility to protect and respect these islands. As in the past, we follow no-trace camping leaving sites cleaner than we find them, allowing others to continue to enjoy the beauty of the area.

We are glad to have returned and explored this area in greater detail with our canoe. The last time we were here was during our cross-Canada paddle and we never stopped to admire the majestic scenery, except for the occasional glance over our shoulder.

Camp kitchen set up on the shores of Cedar Lake, Manitoba.

When we paddled across Canada, people would frequently ask questions about what food we would take, how to prepare it etc. Following is what we learned, which works well for us:

  1. Fresh food is dehydrated and vacuum-sealed for freshness. It is possible to dehydrate anything from carrots to pasta sauce to bananas! Dehydrated food is lightweight to carry, does not spoil and stores well in bear barrels. No need to hang food in trees!
  2. A sarong that serves as a table cloth keeps the camp kitchen organized with less chance of losing something vital.
  3. A small stove is used to cook food ninety per cent of the time. In remote locations with less chance of restocking fuel, food was cooked over a fire. The goal is always to always leave no trace!
  4. To save precious fuel, food is cooked in a pot until it reaches boiling point and then the heat source is removed. The pot is placed in a Hot Pot Cookware Insulator (much like a tea cosy) leaving the food to cook/steam itself to perfection! (Note: brown rice or quinoa must be cooked a bit longer.)
  5. Four servings are always cooked at the end of the day. Two are eaten at supper and two are saved for lunch the next day. Cold food is delicious as well!

Check out some recipes here!


Paddles!

Upon our exit from Georgian Bay at the Municipality of Killarney, we had the absolute pleasure of meeting Mike Ranta! Mike is a solo paddler and has accomplished three canoe expeditions across Canada! Of course, he could not have done any of his trips without his faithful companion, a pure-bred Finnish Spitz called Spitzii. Mike was honoured with the Governor General’s Award Meritorious Service Medal in 2020 for melding his passions with advocacy work for youth, veterans, and first responders.

When Mike is not paddling, his latest project is building the world’s largest paddle! The Big Dipper at the water’s edge in Killarney is indeed an amazing sight to behold! The paddle is 107 feet long, 17 feet high at the blade and has a built-in compartment for a time capsule.

Mike assisted us with route logistics for our own paddle across Canada and we can’t thank him enough for being a positive influence and an inspiration to both of us! What an amazing guy!


Gorgeous Georgian Bay!

Crown Land and Provincial Parks in Ontario are now open for backcountry camping! And outdoor enthusiasts couldn’t be more ready! A change of plans and a last-minute decision to paddle for a couple of weeks around Georgian Bay near Killarney in hopes to still our restless souls for the great outdoors. Greeted by pink granite rocks, watching the sunsets over Georgian Bay and paddling through the incredible collection of islands, quiet inlets, rocky and wide-open spaces, this is truly a beautiful corner of Canada. During the final leg of our cross-Canada canoe trip, we vowed to come back to explore further! We couldn’t be happier!


While we paddle, we wait in excited anticipation for our book order which is scheduled to arrive by the end of the month! ‘Canoe for Change: A Journey Across Canada’ is now on FriesenPress Best Seller list! To purchase your copy please visit our website here!

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Rolling on the River! Check out the article published in Our Canada Magazine’sJune/July 2021 issue: Paddling with Purpose!


Book Launch!

Exciting News!

We have published a book called ‘Canoe for Change: A Journey Across Canada’! After our exciting adventure of paddling from coast to coast, we felt inspired to share our remarkable journey! To reveal the incredible experience of being connected with nature and discovering the culturally rich diversity of this great nation and its peoples. Come and paddle with us – experience the journey!

Canoe for Change: A Journey Across Canada is available in hardcover, softcover and eBook by major online retailers throughout North America. To find out how to purchase your copy please visit our website here!


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News from Canoe for Change!

They say it takes many months of work and dedication to write a book… and they are right! With extra time spent at home during the long pandemic lockdown, we took on the project of writing a book called ‘Canoe for Change‘. Writing about the amazing experiences of our coast to coast canoe trip enabled us to relive the adventure through pages and pages of journal entries and hundreds of photos. Like paddling across Canada, becoming ‘co-authors’ was an adventure of learning and self-discovery!

Stay tuned for when ‘Canoe for Change‘ is published in the not-to-distant future!


10 Adventures

We were delighted to speak with Richard of 10 Adventures in Calgary about what it is like to paddle in a canoe over 8,515 kilometres on Canada’s magnificent waterways as a husband and wife team! We invite you to watch the YouTube conversation and video clips!

If you want to dream and learn more about incredible adventures on every continent on earth, listen to Richard’s great collection of Podcasts/Videos where he speaks with people passionate about the outdoors! Also, check out some of the amazing trips the team at 10 Adventures has to offer including self-guided hiking and walking treks. Thank you Richard!


We continue to champion our favourite organization, Loving Spoonful, and the amazing work they do to connect people with good food. Their vision for a healthy, sustainable, food-secure community is more important than ever.

When asked to submit a story by ‘Our Canada’ Magazine, we jumped at the chance to write about why we raised awareness and funds for Loving Spoonful. ‘Rolling on a River: Paddling with Purpose’ is included in the magazine that is filled with stories of regular Canadians like us. Canadians from coast to coast who bring our country to life through vivid images and photographs! Our Canada Magazine, a subsidiary of Reader’s Digest, is available at your newsstands now!

superheroes_victory_garden.jpg
Victory Gardens were created during wartime to encourage people to grow their own vegetables, herbs and fruit at home or in neighbouring parks. The food was used to feed themselves and also to boost morale! Loving Spoonful has recently developed an exciting and similar campaign called ‘Garden for Good‘. If you are new to gardening, why not start small with a patio or window box container to grow some of your own produce! Check out the information and tips on Loving Spoonful’s website and find out more about a sustainable food culture!

If you are able, Loving Spoonful would appreciate your support!

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Welcome to our blog! You have received our blog because you are a friend or supporter of Canoe for Change!