A little taste of Canadian wilderness

Canoeing in Algonquin and Temagami, Canada

Paddling out from the mouth of the Strontian River I am always reminded of the time I spent canoeing and kayaking in the Canadian wilderness. The similarities to the parks of Temagamai and Algonquin are most definitely there…

Canoes crossing Canadian lake
Setting out on Lake Temagami, Canada, towards our base camp for the next two weeks.

Almost twenty years ago (1988) I was fortunate to receive funding from Earthwatch as part of their Millennium Fellowship Programme to travel to the ancient wilderness of Temagami north of Toronto in order to contribute my time as a research assistant towards the protection of the forest against logging. The funding opportunity was paid back by my using the experience to educate and inform others about the wildlife and habitats in another part of the world. As I was a primary school teacher at the time, it was relatively easy to integrate some of this into my teaching. Coincidentally, another teacher in the school had also been granted a Millennium Fellowship to travel to South America to ‘count rabbits’.

Research fellow at work
That’s me recoding data during the two weeks spent as a research assistant in Temagami in August 1998.

Following a couple of days training in plant ID, research techniques, GIS and canoe skills in North Bay, we were transferred to the lake and canoed to our base camp on an island in the wilderness. For the next two weeks we were to travel to different research sites by open canoe each day in order to identify, count and record trees, shrubs and other fauna in order to show the diversity, and importance, of these ancient woodlands.

A little piece of heaven on Earth?

With sunsets to die for and lakes mirror calm, this place was truly a painters masterpiece…

Canadian sunset
The sunsets were something else – just like autumn and spring in Scotland.
Calm Canadian lake and canoe
Evenings were sometimes calm and so peaceful. An ideal time to be on the water paddling solo.

Since the research project was two weeks and I had six weeks holiday from my teaching role, I opted to spend the remaining four weeks in Canada in order to explore as much as I could in the time available. This involved a solo trek in ???, a couple of sea kayaking trips in the Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay and Killarney Provincial Park and a multi-day open canoe journey in Algonquin Provincial Park, possibly the best known park in Ontario. While I was a little too early to really see the change of colour in the trees as fall (autumn) approached, I did get a small hint of the splendour that was to come…

Seas kayak on shores of Lake Huron
Setting out on Parry Sound in the Georgian Bay area of Lake Huron in sea kayaks for a three day trip.

If you ever get an opportunity to visit the region in autumn, I doubt you will be disappointed! We may not have bears, beaver or moose, but come for a canoe trip with us in Scotland and I will enthuse you about Loch Sunart and canoeing as much as my guides did for me in Canada.

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