Good Morning

I have received a fair whack of material for this newsletter: updates on activities, trip reports, future brigades for 2022 and 2023, and an article on how you may best remember your big canoe adventures.  Read ON!

Upcoming Events

Canadian Voyageur Brigade Society – Annual General Meeting

Our AGM has been called for Saturday afternoon, January 8, 2022.  Given this will be a web conference video call (details to come) this means 7 pm AST, 6 pm, EST, 5 pm CST, 4 pm MST, and 3 pm PST .  All active Class A members are welcome to participate, and vote.   Class A memberships can be acquired on this link.  We will have a social hour at the end of the meeting. 

2022 Peace River Brigade – Alberta
Our brigade is planned for July 23 to 28. It starts near the Alberta – B.C. border and over 6 days and 230 km of paddling ends up in the Town of Peace River. Highlights include a stop at historic Fort Dunvegan and the beautiful scenery along the mighty Peace. We anticipate opening registration for canoe crews in January. Check the CVBS website for updates closer to the date. The brigade’s theme is “Passing the Paddle” and we hope to introduce a number of younger paddlers to the brigade experience. Questions can be directed to the organizing committee chair, Stewart Inglis at We hope to have you along!

2022 & 2203 North Saskatchewan River Express & Brigade – Saskatchewan
For all paddlers:
   2022 will see 6 tandem canoes preform what was known as a Brigade Express . From Prince Albert Saskatchewan to The Pas Manitoba. 14 days self supported.  Last week in July  / First week in August. 
    2023 will see this event continuing as a Brigade of 4 Voyageur canoes from The Pas Mb to Norway House Mb. 14 days . Self supported. All paddlers should be familiar with paddling and camping with Voyageur canoes. 
  Serious inquiries only please.   The trips will be self financed, equipped and supported. Participants are responsible for their actions, failures and liabilities.
Wayne Elliott 
Amisk Lake Voyageurs 
Text  306 688 0222 

2022 – Metis Crossing Brigade – North Saskatchewan River, Alberta
NO Brigade plans at present.

Where every dime raised and every paddle stroke promotes Peace and Understanding within the community of people living with disabilities.
September 17 to 21, 2022
150 Km on the Missouri River, finishing in Omaha
Further details available on this link.

2023 – Trent Severn Waterway – New Canadian Canoe Museum Opening
Bruce Clark is is in preliminary discussions to coordinate a voyageur canoe brigade, with possibly other craft, on the Trent Severn Waterway to help celebrate the opening of the new, now under construction, Canadian Canoe Museum, in Peterborough, ON.  At present this is all rather tentative, but as museum construction progresses, and the CCM determines the opening schedule, we will expect to complete brigade arrangements.  The Trent Severn Waterway is some 387 km long, stretching from Georgian Bay on Lake Huron to Lake Ontario- Peterborough and the new museum sits about midway along the waterway. A number of combinations of brigades, lengths, time frames, and styles are being considered.  Bruce is working to put together a planning crew, if you’d like to help him out, please drop him an email <> .

The Peterborough Lift Lock on the Trent Severn Waterway – 2018 Wooden Canoe Heritage Festival

2023 – Prince Edward Island
Chairman Brian is reporting that our PEI colleagues have been discussing a 2023 brigade possibly up the Historic Hillsboro river and into Tracadie Bay via the traditional historic portage.
Other alternatives in western PEI are also being discussed as well.  There is also discussion of trying to schedule both these 2023 Brigades to allow folk to participate in each.


Gabriel Dumont – Display in Hinton
Rick Zroback reports that the display of the former St. Johns School big canoe, Gabriel Dumont, in Hinton is now complete with interpretive materials.   If you are passing through Hinton you can find this display next to the town’s museum just west of the Switzer Drive overpass, just south of Hwy.#16.

Sault Ste Marie Friends
Mark Crofts reports that the Sault Ste. Marie “brigade” only got out for one paddle in 2021 due to the COVID situation. We used the north canoe owned by the Voyageur Cookhouse and Lodge (Batchawana Bay Ontario) and took a short trip up the Batchawana River. It was great to get out again. As fate would have it, on our way upstream we met the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy montreal canoe headed downstream….so we kind of formed a brigade, neither canoe having any advance knowledge that the other would be there. Serendipity on the Batchawana!

Travel Journal 101 – Proof of Life
submitted by Wayne Wilson

Keeping a Travel Journal (Paddle Journal) is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. While I’ve been keeping a sketchbook since I was in High School, I didn’t really start doing a Travel Journal until I was part of the David Thompson Brigade in 2011.
For 6 weeks I sketched, painted, wrote, and blogged about everything I could along those spectacular waterways. Now, I have the memories…..and more important, I have a wonderfully tangible way of keeping those memories alive for years to come. (It’s also a way to prove to my kids what a legend I am! )
Keeping a Travel Journal is a more straightforward process than most people think, and I’ll give you a few of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

Don’t think you can write travel stories? Start by just keeping point-form entries. You can always craft them into longer and/or more detailed descriptions later or when you get more comfortable about the writing side of things.
  1. Don’t think you can sketch or paint? Start by doing small pieces only, instead of thinking you have to fill up whole pages of a landscape scene or public market setting. Travel Journal are generally small, so start by doing small doodle-type sketches, and don’t feel you have to paint up the whole sketch. Instead of fretting about painting that whole exciting market scene – just sketch/paint the carrots or shellfish!
  2. Can’t see the value in keeping a Travel Journal. After having spent more than 30 years in the Museum and Archives field, I can guarantee that one of your descendants will want to know more about you - and a Travel Journal is a wonderful way a showing something of your keen sense perception and your thoughtful perspectives on your time in this life. REMEMBER – only those who wrote it down are ever remembered.
  3. Worried that someone will see those wonderful travel experiences differently and challenge you? First, keep in mind that this is YOUR Travel Journal, and they can darn well keep their own! Second, a simple and kind solution to this is to ask them to write their version and then you can talk about the similarities and differences – I bet they will never write it down and then…..your record will be the only one, and how fun will that be.
  4. Can’t figure out what to record in a Travel Journal, I’ll attach a link for a downloadable PDF checklist that will help you with this framework and take some pressure off.
  In the end, there are so many benefits to keeping a Paddle Journal – more memories to cherish, clearer memories, a legacy to pass along to your children and grandchildren, and an important pause in the sometimes hectic pace of travel.
Be sure to check out the Facebook Group – Hikers, Paddlers, and Travellers Journals, and go ahead and download the PDF of Travel Journal Prompts. This PDF is part of my new online course coming out soon: Travel Journal 101 – Proof of life.
Finally, for fun, here are the links to the blogs I kept on those epic paddle trips:
Wayne Wilson, Kelowna BC

Backcountry Tripping with a Big Canoe
submitted by Mike Murphy

            All my previous experience with big canoes has been in brigades on river systems or day trips in the coastal waters of my home province of Nova Scotia. The brigades on the Rideau River and the Saint John River were typical ventures – we started at one point and moved along the river supported by a convoy of cars, trucks, and trailers, sometimes moving around dams or other obstructions by taking the canoes out and trucking them to a put in site further along the route. This year, five of us (Mike Murphy, Wayne Gillis, Tim Surette, Earle Hickey, Brian Smith) decided to try something a little different. We took a 25 foot Rabaska canoe into the backcountry of Kejimkujik National Park. The plan was to paddle across Kejimkujik Lake (the big lake), then take a series of portages ranging from 1.2 kilometers to 100 meters through North Cranberry, Puzzle, Corbeille and Mountain Lakes to finally arrive in Peskowesk Lake. We would then spend time exploring a series of back lakes that are connected by portages of various lengths between 200 and 800 meters. What could go wrong?

            Well, it turns out that a lot could. We talked to the Park staff about the portages and our plan but we didn’t pick up on their subtle hints like “no one has ever taken a canoe that long and wide through those portages” and “well, that should be interesting – we want to hear how it turns out.” We had a great set of wheels for the canoe and the confidence of five men well into their retirement years so we figured this should be pretty straightforward. Not so.

Fig.1 – Paddling on Kejimkujik Lake.

            After an easy paddle across Keji Lake, we hit the first portage to North Cranberry Lake, a 1.2 kilometer trek with a number of uphill sections. We strapped the canoe onto the wheels and pushed, forced, and bullied it over roots and boulders. It took an hour but we got through to North Cranberry. A couple of quick trips back and forth brought all our gear over and we were ready to go but we were now aware of just how difficult this was going to be. We crossed the small lake quickly and got ready for the second portage, a short level one of just over 100 meters. We made it through this one to Puzzle Lake with relative ease and started to think that our plan may actually be feasible. Another short paddle brought us to our third portage and this is the one that killed the dream.

Fig. 1 – This is the 2nd (and easiest) portage.  

            This one was about 400 meters, with many twists and turns in heavy forest, big boulders all along the route, and exposed roots everywhere on the portage. We took our gear over first and quickly discovered 4 spots where the portage was less than 36 inches wide. We stopped counting after those four. The laws of physics just don’t allow a 50 inch wide canoe to go through a space less than 36 inches wide. We weren’t about to try to flip the canoe on its side and carry it. As well, we had to consider our return trip – we still had another portage to make it to our destination and then on our return, we would need to do this all over again. So we had a quick discussion and made the only decision we could: we called the park and changed our reservation. We luckily got the campsite at the end of that portage, so we left the canoe at the start point and settled in for the night.

            The next day, we took the canoe back through the two portages we completed on day one, and found our new campsite on the shores of Keji Lake. Over the next two days, we absolutely enjoyed paddling all around some coves and islands in the big lake in glorious sunny, calm, warm October weather. Lessons learned are pretty obvious: check out the route beforehand; big canoes don’t portage well, even with wheels – they don’t work in really rough terrain. But we also learned that the big canoe is loads of fun for a group in the right conditions.       

Fig. 3 – Kejimkujik Lake in its autumn glory (Photo – Earle Hickey)

Fig. 4 – Left to right: Brian Smith, Wayne Gillis, Mike Murphy, Tim Surette, Earle Hickey.

That’s a wrap crew.  Our spring Newsletter will come out about mid-March with a submission deadline of February 28th.  Now that this chore is completed Ted and I will get on with website updates.  If you have brigade relevant information you would like on our website, or in the next newsletter… send it along to me <>.