Monday, November 5, 2007

End of the journey ..... ?

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." Ursula K. Le Guin
Yes, we did it ....... 22 days of adventure and experiences of a lifetime.......

Special thanks goes to Birgit, our Chief Communications Officer and Media Executive :-), and Rick from Tony Martin's office for coordinating the recent media event........
Check out the coverage at these links.

Ben and Ross

Zoom in on the map below for a view of the route with stops.....

View Larger Map
Check out the links near the bottom of the blog to a few other recent content from other trips like this one.

The classic 1960's NFB production "The Voyageurs" that spawned journeys like this.

What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you already a child of nature.– Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Here's an excerpt from an interesting critical look at "fur trade route" canoe trips. (dead link)
The canoe is often represented in Canadian popular culture as a founding myth of nationality. Voyageur canoe routes represent cultural diversity and "the three founding peoples" of Canada, highlighting the foundational role of the landscape in Canadian identity, and emphasizing Canadian unity. The canoe appeals to Canadians because it offers an adventurous escape from the city, an imaginative encounter with history, a discovery of national identity, and an opportunity for a spiritual quest within nature (Francis 1997, 149-51). For Francis, this significance "emerges" from a survey of our national history, in which, as he states, "The canoe is omnipresent" (129). He recounts a history stretching from the First Nations birchbark canoe, through the Jesuit missionaries, to "our familiar textbook heroes, the explorers" (131), early twentieth-century Ontario summer camps, and Pierre Trudeau, tracing the way that the canoe links all these disparate events and individuals in a single narrative. (Dr. Misao Dean;Journal of Canadian Studies. Volume: 40. Issue: 3. Publication Date: Fall, 2006.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Flat Water

We enjoyed a calm evening paddle heading to Blind River on day 3. The area of Lake Huron coast along the North Shore at the mouth of the Mississaugi river is undeveloped and seems to be a jewel of beauty still preserved.

Weather break

On an island next to Turnbull Island east of Blind River we had time to take some pictures while sheltering from the waves...

Portaging on the Mattawa

There are about 9 portages on the Mattawa between North Bay and the Ottawa River.
They're all longer and more technical than the French River though in retrospect not as long or complicated as those on the Ottawa River.

Portaging in Ottawa/Gatineau

Our last day arriving in Ottawa involved a few more portages. Here we are along one of the Gatineau bike trails. The video shows how "Place de la Portage" has developped from Voyageur times.....

Northwest Company store

North Bay remains today an important centre in the fur trade. The Northwest Company...yes descended from the original NWC and Hudson Bay Co......has one of their major exchange locations in the city. They distribute beads, skins and craft materials to aboriginal communities in this sector of Canada and serve the wholesale market taking in furs and other trade goods from as far north as Nunavut.
Note the rack of Narwhal tusks from Baffin Island with each tusk identified by a tag with details including the name of the inuit hunter who harvested the animal......

Driving back to the Sault

Driving back to the Sault we stopped at some familiar places while retracing our steps...strokes.....

French River Sailing

Althought the French River is upstream when going from west to east, the winds are said to be predominantly from the west. Check out some footage of us going upstream....please note that it is difficult to steer a canoe and capture video simultaneously... :-), thus the choppy image.

Here's some Video

This is some evening-scape on an Island between Spanish and Little Current. The geography of this camp site was drastically different from our trip to that point. The Island was made of limestone and not the granite of the Canadian shield. The water was perfectly clear and the layers of limestone formed ideal flat steps starting from beneath the water and rising to the area where we had set up the tent along the shore. We arrived at this site after braving open rough water and rain an hour earlier. We chose not to continue to Little Current due to high waves and this site, in the lea of the wind, proved perfect. We were even greeted by an otter that hung around watching the novel humans. The day ended with a post storm sunset....and of course the moon that followed for the first week.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

End of the journey ..... ?

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." Ursula K. Le Guin
Yes, we did it ....... 22 days of adventure and experiences of a lifetime.......

Thanks to all our ardent fans, wellwishers and fellow paisans who helped us make this journey a success.......and a special thanks goes out to Birgit, our Chief Communications Officer and Media Executive........
Now that we're sitting in a non floating position, over the next few weeks we'll try to share some of the better pictures, video, and update an overview of the trip.

Ben and Ross

Constance Bay

We found out where we were....Contance old cottage area north of Ottawa. Turns out there's a restaurant nearby....
Saturday morning update. As of 11am, we expect to be in Ottawa by about 1:30pm....the wind is blowing in our direction.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Arrival Update

Well, the last day isn't the last day....Red sky in morning sailors take warning ...We left Arnprior early in the morning and spent a bit more time than usual finding the portage around the dam without good maps. Later going downstream ...on an unknown lake making up the Ottawa River a wind blowing against us has grounded us till further notice(15km from the city)...quelle domage...but a storm is still beautiful ...hopefully we'll arrive at our destination late morning tomorrow.

See you in Ottawa...

We made it to Arnprior for dinner after being tossed around by waves and fighting a headwind on Chats Lake most of the way. We're excited that tonight may be our last night tenting....yeah... The morning was a pleasant paddle past a pulp mill and scenic bridge over the Ottawa River. The town of Portage du Fort...the one we had been dreading (where Ontario Hydro has a huge dam and since the town has "portage" in its name, it must be brutal) has an easy portage and the canoe seemed especially light. Since the most commonly asked question is what do you eat,....I had peanut butter and banana sandwiches for bkfst, some scrambled eggs with multi grain bread for lunch and more pb sandwiches and half a large pizza with pepperoni, green pepper, and sausage for dinner with orange juice not from concentrate to wash it down.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

2 days left....

We spent the day navigating the Chalumet Chanel and stopped for services and lunch at Campbell Bay. It was chilly in the morning with obvious signs of fall. We are happy to be ending soon. Lots of fish jumping in the overcast environment but with no Quebec fishing licence they go on jumping. Changes in scenery and development are new with low river banks, fewer rocks and farmland making up the topography. We ended the day with a difficult portage around the Chalumet Falls and hydro dam. The Hydro Quebec worker took notice and advised us to be careful. We set up camp along the river's edge not far from an electric fence to keep the cow's in. we chased one of the 4 deer we'd seen today to another resting spot.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Here's a brief list to new vocabulary being introduced to Canadian Vernacular via Bangalore....
If you'd like to add any, just send an email....

Shoe Bite: The pain that new shoes/boots cause when first wearing them. - I'm getting shoe bite from these new boots.

Piddle: The act of urination. - I need to piddle

Chamiana: Tent/gazebo. - There's a nice chamiana

links to other websites

Here are some links to other sites:

Destination Nord Ouest - French language reality tv program that retraced the Voyageur route.

2011 Cross Canada Cannoe trips
Candian Canoe Odyssey Human propelled journey from Pacific to Atlantic
2010 DTB trip (dead link)
Rich site for historic maps and link to David Thompson Brigade 2008 (original content modified)
Future trips and general resource
Voyageur Brigade Society
Canada Canoe Pageant for Expo 67, CBC content.
The Centennial Voyageur Canoe Pageant as Historical Re-enactment (link to academic research)

The Institute for Canadian Citizenship (with whom we have no affiliation) - Forensic Science Portal

The year 2007 marks the 150th anniversary of the selection of Ottawa as Canada’s capital.

Parsi Worship Ceremony

We stopped at a town called Chapeau this morning on Allumette island.
It's a mainly English speaking community in eastern Quebec reliant on
beef farming and tourism. When addressing a local resident for
directions in French I was ignored but once I switched to English we were pointed
the right way. Our trip may be demonstrating a natural east-west
development for Canada but so far one cannot disprove the 2 solitudes....
We used the internet quickly and stopped by the local bakery for some
great cinnamon buns and the Canadian icon of butter tarts. Later in the
day we were caught in the widest section of Lake Coulange during a
torrential downpour. We pulled up on an island and after standing and
waiting for the rain to stop we decided to set up the tent to keep dry
and warm. Ben is not praying to a Parsi god but trying to dry the
inside of the tent.
We had some time to look at our rough map and are estimating arriving in
Aylmer between 5-5:30pm and on the water at the museum of civilization
between 7-7:30pm on Friday September 14. There are a few significant
portages before Ottawa so plans are yet flexible.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Alumette Island

We made it to Stonecliffe and Driftwood provincial park after paddling much of the day. The Ottawa River is a much wider river than the others. We met a father and son canoeing from Montreal since 2003....doing a part each year....hoping to get to the Sault in the next 2 years. They gave us good advice for the 2.5 km portage tomorrow in Des Joachim. It's the longest they said but not the toughest.

Chenal de la Culbute

We left our comfortable abode at the Kelly's in Deep River and have set
up camp on a beach in the Chenal de la Culbute. It's a beautiful spot
surrounded by cottages and historic isolated farms on Quebec's
Allumette Island. We safely negotiated the initial rapids...mainly through
portage and line drifting the canoe. We ran into some help along the way
near Chalk River from Dan and company and had them sign the paddle...
See photo...

"The Route" Then and Now

"The Route" Then and Now
A section of a map of the fur trade route followed by Rene Menard in the late 1600's. The "Journey of Citizenship" started in Sault Ste Marie on August 24/07 and has a planned completion date of September 12/07 in Ottawa.

.....and the journey has begun

.....and the journey has begun
Ben demonstrates a potential new Olympic sport....Canooling

Photos from the start of the journey

Photos from the start of the journey
last minute preparations

As well-wishers cheered, off they went.