Our route is based upon that taken by the early Voyageurs and fur traders as they explored Canada. We are, of course, doing it backwards, but there’s far more chance of us doing it in one season that way.
We begin in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, on the North Saskatchewan River. From here we paddle downstream through Edmonton and the Battleford into Saskatchewan, reaching the confluence with the South Saskatchewan River just east of Prince Albert. Here the river becomes the Saskatchewan River, and continues east into Manitoba, eventually draining into Cedar Lake after around 1700km.
From Cedar Lake we portage across to Lake Winnipegosis and head south, portage to Lake Manitoba at Meadow Portage, then join the Assiniboine Diversion channel just west of Delta. We paddle up the diversion to the Assiniboine, then downstream to Winnipeg to join the Red River. This leads to Lake Winnipeg, where we head eastwards along the shoreline, around a northern spur and into the mouth of the River Winnipeg. We then head upstream for 235km until we reach Keewatin, portaging around 7 dams en route and passing into Ontario. A quick hop from Keewatin brings us to Lake of the Woods and Kenora.
From Kenora we head south, passing Sioux Narrows and portaging across to Kakagi Lake around 30km south of here. We then follow an indistinct series of lakes, rivers and (maybe many) portages including Pipestone Lake, Loonhaunt Lake and finally Rainy Lake to reach Fort Frances on the US border.
From here we head east, intending to stay on Canadian soil/water but following the border through Rainy Lake and into Quetico Provincial Park at Lac la Croix. The route continues to follow the border all the way to the Grand Portage trail which heads into the US. We are intending on continuing on the Pigeon River, portaging the several falls and rapids, but staying in Canada to reach Lake Superior just north of the customs office! We then follow the northern shore of Lake Superior to the eastern end, where it drains into Lake Huron via the St Mary’s River.
We paddle through to Georgian Bay where we reach the mouth of the French River. Paddling up this we reach Lake Nippissing and head for North Bay. A portage takes us to the Mattawa River, which flows down to join the Ottawa and eventually the mighty St Lawrence, which takes us finally to Quebec City.
The total distance is around 5600km, we think.
All sounds easy on paper…