Celebrate Canada’s 150th
Lake Superior by 36 ft Voyageur Canoe
Six Quintessential Sesquicentennial Paddling Adventures
A nation emerged in the wake of the birchbark canoes, the engines of the fur trade, Canada’s first industry. The canoe epitomizes our history.
To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, Naturally Superior Adventures is recreating the fur trade experience with the Lake Superior Voyageur Canoe Brigades. The program consists of 6 guided, all-inclusive wilderness adventures by 36 ft replica voyageur canoe, each paddled by up to 12 trip participants. Starting July 2 in Lake Superior Provincial Park, each “brigade” will travel 5- to 10-day legs, finishing August 19 at Fort William Historical park, Thunder Bay.
Each of the 6 legs of the journey will focus on a quintessential Canadian theme: First Nations, voyageurs, Group of Seven art, folk music and lighthouses. Our intention is to host each section with an expert on each theme and feature a Canadian singer-songwriter (aka “paddling minstrel”) to serenade participants around evening campfires.
Brigades will be led by experienced guides with an intimate knowledge of the coastline. They have advanced wilderness first aid training, superb navigation knowledge and time-tested backcountry cooking skills.
“When you paddle a voyageur canoe on Lake Superior you fall back in time. There are no distractions, no human intrusions. This coastline is still wild. It’s a timeless place where the voyageur legend is alive and well.” Conor Mihell, Author & Adventurer
#1: Spirit of Superior: Agawa to Wawa (Michipicoten)
Sunday July 2 – Friday July 7.
Paddling a voyageur canoe, it’s easy to see why First Nations people revered the coastline that is now Lake Superior Provincial Park. This 80-km journey from Sinclair Cove to Michipicoten radiates a special energy from its ancient rock paintings, enchanting rock monoliths and mysterious moss-covered boulder beaches.
Here, the French Canadian voyageurs were quick to adopt the Native tradition of making tobacco offerings at sacred places like the Agawa Rock pictographs and Nanabush Chair. We’ll do the same, asking the spirits of Lake Superior for safe passage.
Lake Superior Provincial Park encapsulates the best of the North Shore: A diverse geology ranging from lunar landscapes of volcanic rhyolite to stalwart granite cliffs; sheltered coves; outstanding hiking; and wilderness camping. If you crave solitude but don’t have the time to paddle the Pukaskwa coast, this is your next best bet.
#2: The Big Wild: Wawa to Marathon (Pukaskwa National Park)
Sunday July 9 – Wednesday July 19.
Pukaskwa National Park is the wildest freshwater coastline in the world, 180 kilometres unchanged since the voyageurs plied these waters. Experience exquisite solitude and wonder as you discover secret campsites, trackless beaches and awe-inspiring cliffs. Pukaskwa was a favourite destination of Bill Mason, a legendary Canadian filmmaker, artist and environmentalist.
The theme of this trip is iconic Canadian wilderness and we’re fortunate to travel with his daughter Becky (and husband Reid) who has carried on her father’s legacy of wilderness canoeing and environmental appreciation (redcanoes.ca/becky).
#3: Lawren Harris Country: Marathon (Pukaskwa Park) to Rossport
Saturday July 22 – Friday July 28.
The rugged coastline, stark islands and hardscrabble villages of Lake Superior’s north shore inspired some of Canada’s most famous landscape paintings. Today, Pic Island in Neys Provincial Park still captivates the senses the way it did in the 1920s when Group of Seven painter Lawren Harris immortalized its smooth curves on canvas.
This 120-km stretch of wilderness coastline is one of the most infrequently travelled paddling routes on the Great Lakes. You’ll revel in the stunning scenery and intense solitude—the perfect elements to inspire your own photographs and sketches. You’ll rest at age-old campsites, marvel at views of the Coldwell Peninsula and encounter ghost towns that once bustled with fishermen and railroad workers.
#4: The Singing Wilderness: Rossport to Red Rock
Sunday July 30 – Friday Aug 4
Musical gifts were cherished in the community of voyageurs. The best singers were awarded extra pay and an esteemed place in the canoe; folk tunes and ballads were the soundtracks of voyageur brigades, setting the pace for flashing paddles. The tradition continues in Red Rock, a small north shore town that bustles each summer with some of Canada’s finest musical acts.
The island-strewn waters of western Lake Superior are unique, marked by agate beaches and rugged volcanic geology and protected by the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. We’ll enjoy secluded campsites and a special night at a wilderness sauna. Be sure to bring your own musical instruments.
#5: Beacons on a Lonely Shore: Red Rock to Silver Islet
Sunday Aug 6 – Saturday Aug 12.
Two hundred years ago, French Canadian voyageurs paddled Superior’s coastline on gut feeling alone, racing fogbanks and navigating the island-choked waters at the lake’s northwest end by the seat of their pants. As commercial traffic grew, the need for lighthouses became apparent to safeguard mariners from disaster. Just as 2017 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary, so too is it the sesquicentennial of the first Canadian lighthouse on Lake Superior. This 75-km voyageur canoe journey visits several lighthouses, providing glimpses of their colourful history and the essential services they provided. We’ll stay over night at the Phorphery Island light station.
A crescent of remote islands comprises the coastline between Red Rock and Silver Islet. They are recognized for their unique geology and communities of flora and fauna by the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area designation. Sign up for this voyageur canoe adventure if you’re looking to experience the wilder 30,000 islands, unmarred by cottage development.
#6: En Route to the Great Rendezvous: Silver Islet to Thunder Bay
Monday Aug 14 – Saturday Aug 19.
Towering cliffs, flat-top mountains and watery horizons mark the final leg of the Lake Superior voyageur route. Here, the canoe brigades plied open waters beneath the 300-metre flanks of the Sleeping Giant, a geological monolith and Ojibwa icon resting at the mouth of Thunder Bay. Tracing the rugged coastlines of Pie, Thompson and Victoria islands, it’s easy to imagine the paddles flashing as big canoes raced to be the first to arrive at the infamous rendezvous at Fort William.
Fur trade historian and singer-songwriter Rodney Brown will be our special guest on this 75-km journey (rodneybrown.ca). Not only will you enjoy wilderness camping, stunning scenery and great campfire entertainment, you’ll also experience the timeless experience of paddling a voyageur canoe into the reconstructed fur trade post at Fort William Historical park culminating our summer-long journey.
Are these trips for you?
You’ll get the most enjoyment from the experience if you’re in moderate to good physical shape and have some paddling and camping experience. For those who are active but inexperienced, our guides will be happy to help get you organized and into the swing of things. A typical day includes about 8 hrs of paddling with regular breaks for bio-breaks, lunch, snacks and site visits.
Trip voyageur canoes are 36 feet (12 metres) long, 5 feet (1.5 metres) wide and carry 12 to 14 paddlers plus a lot of stuff on multi-day trips. They’re stable, easy to paddle and fully outfitted according to Canadian Coast guard regulations. They are perfect for novice paddlers and diverse groups.
Details & Sign-up: