The Missing Canoe


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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