We offer custom trips on Canadian rivers for groups of adventurous and skilled teen and adult canoeists who are in good physical condition and who are mentally prepared for a hardy expedition. While our primary concern is to run a safe, enjoyable wilderness trip, the nature of most Canadian trips creates many challenges and occasional hardships, sometimes unexpected.
This is real wilderness camping. There are few ready-made campsites. On some trips we are a long way from outside help. When the bush plane leaves us at the start of the Mistassini or Mistassibi we are several day’s paddle from the nearest road. Most trips have portages, occasionally long, and most also require lining canoes from the rocky shore or tracking them through the water. We take these factors into consideration, and use special canoes and lighter equipment and food than on our Maine trips. The menu remains generous and well-planned, and includes freshly baked breads and pastries from our reflector oven each day.
All our Canadian trips have plenty of rapids. Except for the Nepisiguit trip, previous whitewater experience and training is required! If you don't have experience, or want to brush up on your skills, we can recommend sources of instruction before your trip.
Several wild beautiful rivers flow from the northern highlands of Quebec into Lac St. Jean. We first ran the Mistassini in 1971, and have since added the Ashuapmushuan, the Mistassibi, and the Rivière du Chef. We usually meet people for these trips either at our base in Greenville, in Quebec City, or two hundred miles further north at Lac St. Jean.
Soon after the ASHUAPMUSHUAN RIVER begins in the Ashuapmushuan Reserve, it picks up the flow of the Rivière du Chef and becomes a waterway of major proportions. This river provided a primary access route to the northern interior for 18th century French explorers, who traveled upstream against its powerful current. Rapids on the Ashuapmushuan are often long and wide with multiple options. Big water is usually more of a concern than rocks. When possible, we do some technical "sneaking" along the side of the bigger rapids, involving lots of scouting and some lining. One long, spectacular falls and a few class IV-V drops require portaging. Campsites vary from sandy beach, to ledge outcrop and puckerbrush, to softwood forest floor. Blueberries are abundant in August, and fishing for northern pike is good.
The RIVIÉRE DU CHEF begins further north, close to the town of Chibougamau, and ends where it joins the Ashuapmushuan. The Chef flows through similar country, with lots of rapids and some falls and portages. The MISTASSINI starts as a tiny stream in near-tundra forest, and gradually evolves into a large and powerful river, running between small mountains with cliffs and waterfalls on either side. We must portage around two magnificent waterfalls, one 200 feet high, as well as several other cascades. Challenging whitewater stretches alternate with narrow ponds and swiftly flowing river. Fishing for trout, walleye, and pike is excellent. Access to this wilderness trip of great variety is by floatplane.
The MISTASSIBI is equally scenic and wild, and the Northeast Branch has canoeable rapids for almost half of its 130 miles. There are only a few short portages in the section we run, but some rapids and ledge drops require lining or tracking, and much time is spent scouting. Trout fishing has been excellent on this outstanding adventure trip, which can be reached only by floatplane.
Two of our favorite coastal Canadian rivers make perfect late spring canoe trips that take less than a week to run. We meet in Greenville or Bangor and drive straight to the headwaters.
The BONAVENTURE is true to its name. This pristine river flows out of the Chic Choc Mountains of the Gaspé Peninsula, and its upper course cuts swiftly through steep hillsides, producing a surprise around every corner. Its remarkable crystal-clear water and cobblestone riverbed combine with forested banks to produce a deep emerald color, as the river hurries to meet the sea. This trip is for the hardy canoeist with good whitewater skills.
The NEPISIGUIT RIVER flows about 70 miles from its narrow headwater lakes near Mt. Carleton in northern New Brunswick to the ocean at Bathurst. It starts small and picks up water quickly, with fast steady current and beautiful views, and builds to an exciting river with rapids, gorges, and waterfalls, and several portages. Whitewater enthusiasts may choose to run some of the heavier, more technical rapids just after the take-out. The Nepisiguit is open to canoeists of any experience level, and in spring offers bountiful fiddlehead picking.