Done Brigades & Adventures
True North Voyageur Brigade
August 20 - 26, 2018
Entry fee of $450 included
- - Long sleeve shirt
- - True North Voyageur Brigade 2018 crest
- - Campground, wahsrooms, water, hydro for phones and cameras
- - Firewood
- - Breakfast and supper is taking care of every day
- - Entertainment on two evenings
- - Marketing and scouting
- - Entry fees for sightseeing (Polar Bear Habitat, Pioneer Village, Wild Life Wagon Rides and 5 museums)
- - Transportation during the brigade and canoe rental
Out of your pocket expenses:
- - Lunch and beverages while canoeing daily is your crew resposibility
- - Beverages are not included in catering
August 20, 2018
Registration and settling up your camp
Make sure to be here by 4.30 pm to not miss the
Opening Ceremony with Pickerel Fry
6 p.m. - Crew Leader Meeting
7 p.m. - Safety Crew Meeting
7.30 p.m. - Road Crew and Safety Boat Meeting
August 21, 2018
Milage for this day is 33 km of paddling
7 a.m. - Breakfast at the Brigade Kitchen
8.30 a.m. - Matheson Thelma Miles Historical Museum
10 a.m. - Canoes launch at Black River Boat Launch
Lunch at Coureur de Bois Campground close to Val Gagné
5 p.m. - Arrival at Iroquois Falls
Presentation on Jus Jordan Artifacts Collection at Community Hall
Walk through the arena and Iroquois Falls Pioneer Museum
6 p.m. - Supper at "The Station"
10 p.m. - Return to Kirk Wipper Voyageur Center
Crew meetings / campfireLook at the map
August 22, 2018
Milage for this day is 42 km of paddling
7 a.m. - Breakfast at the Brigade Kitchen
8.30 a.m. - Canoes launch from Meadow Creek, Iroquois Falls
Heading down Abitibi River to Abitibi Dam - 1 portage. Takeout point to Cochrane onto Lake Commando
Return to Kirk Wipper Voyageur Center
Crew meetings / campfireLook at the map
August 23, 2018
Milage for this day is 61 km of paddling. There will be pick up points on the way.
7 a.m. - Breakfast at the Brigade Kitchen
8.30 a.m. - Canoes launch at South Porcupine heading do Porcupine Creek
Lunch at Hoyle Community Hall
Paddling on Nighthawk Lake down the Frederick House Lake to Connaught to the beach of Kirk Wipper Voyageur Center
Crew meetings / campfireLook at the map
August 24, 2018
Day of rest / leisure
Breakfast at the Brigade Kitchen
Treasure Hunt, Poker Run, etc.
Visit to the Connaught & District Historical Society Pioneer Museum
4 p.m. - Brigade Potluck at Kirk Wipper Voyageur Center with VIPs and entertainmentLook at the map
August 25, 2018
Milage for this day is 30 km of paddling
8 a.m. - Breakfast at the Brigade Kitchen
10.30 a.m. - Canoes launch at Mattagami dam heading to The Great Canadian Kayak Challenge in Timmins. For more information see www.GreatCanadianKayakChallenge.com
Salute to The Great Canadian Kayak Chellenge, canoe race, native drumming, etc.
Museum National Exhibition Centre with two presentations and banquet
or Cedar Meadows Resort and Spa with voyageur banquet and wildlife tour by horse wagons
Return to The Great Canadian Kayak Challenge followed by the fireworks
Return to Kirk Wipper Voyageur Center
Crew meeting / campfireLook at the map
August 26, 2018
Breakfast at the Brigade Kitchen
9.30 a.m. - Closing Ceremony
Under the overview of the Canadian Voyageur Brigade Society Tim McDonagh, as the regional rep of Northern Ontario, is the brigade leader of the True North Voyageur Brigade.
Participants of the True North Voyageur Brigade have to be a member of the Canadian Voyageur Brigade Society, which will include an insurance for Zone 4 for every brigade in 2018.
The registration with the Canadian Voyageur Brigade Society is $18/adult and $12.50/child.
We make changes to the process!
West Wind Brigade - Canada Day 150
June 23 - July 1, 2017
The 4 Winds Brigades.
Where do you want to be on July 1, 2017?
How about in the heart of Ottawa paddling a Voyageur Canoe? You can be. Just join one of the 4 Winds Brigades. Think about it – 4 brigades. One from the west, one from the north, one from the east, and one from the South, each with Victoria Island (Asinabke) in the Ottawa River at the foot of the Parliament buildings as its final destination.
The date of arrival: July 1, Canada Day
Traditionally, voyageur canoes carried cargo of furs and trade goods. But these canoes will carry a different kind of payload – ideas, hopes and dreams. Our mission is to draw attention to the need for everyone, from citizen advocates to the highest political echelons live in the spirit of reconciliation - we want to see a Canada where all cultures can work and live together in peace and harmony and justice, and to reconciliation with the ecosystems that support us.
To symbolize this idea, we will take bottles of water from the beginnings of the journey that each brigade will follow and bring them to the foot of Canada's parliament buildings. The brigades will be carried out in honour of Elder William Commanda and his vision for a Circle of all Nations, with the canoe as a symbol of how people, water, and nature combine and work together to animate peace, healing and understanding.
The 4 winds brigades will all end up at Victoria Island, at the foot of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. We have picked the Ottawa site because of its 5,000 year-long tradition in Algonquin history as a place of political evolution and cultural convergence that continued with the choice of Ottawa by Queen Victoria as the capital of Canada.
The route of each of the four brigades is:
- The North Wind Brigade will paddle down the Gatineau River from Kitigan Zibi to Victoria Island in Ottawa (one week);
- the South Brigade will paddle from Kingston to Ottawa on the Rideau Canal, a World Heritage Site, National historic Site, and Canadian Heritage River (8 days);
- the East Wind Brigade will paddle up the mighty Ottawa from the Fur Trade Museum in Lachine. (1 week); and
- the West Wind Brigade will paddle from Mattawa to Ottawa on the mighty Ottawa River (eight days).
Schedule of the West Wind Brigade:June 23, 2017: Arrival in Mattawa, ON. Overnight stay at the park of the museum June 24, 2017: Mattawa,ON to Deux Rivières, ON. Overnight stay at the Antler's Kingfisher Lodge June 25, 2017: Deux Rivières,ON to Rapides de Joachims,QC(Swisha). Overnight stay at Pointe aux Pines Lodge June 26, 2017: Rapides de Joachims,QC via Deep River,ON and Petawawa,ON Black Bear Campground to Pembroke,ON. Overnight stay at Riverside Campground June 27, 2017: Petawawa,ON via Westmeath,ON to River Run in Forester Falls,ON. Overnight stay at River Run Wild Water Rafting June 28, 2017: Day of rest. Visit to Father Marc's Camp Petro in Fort Coulogne,QC or wild water rafting in River Run. June 29, 2017: River Run to Arnprior,ON. Overnight stay at Robert Simpson Park June 30, 2017: Arnprior,ON to Black Rapids Locks at Rideau Canal Ottawa where we stayed over night July 1, 2017: Black Rapids Locks to Ottawa and Victoria Island
Special thanks to
- Mayor Dean Backer from Mattawa for paddling with us
- Mayor Jim Gibson and his wife Tina for welcoming and sending us off as well as let us stay at their lodge
- Pembroke's Mayor Michael LeMay for sending us off
- Father Marc for inviting us to Camp Patro in Fort Coulogne
- Reeve Walter Stack, Arnprior, for sending us off
- River Run Wild Water Rafting for hosting us
- and the First Nations for hosting us on Victoria Island
Paddlers wanted for canoe expedition,
Celebrating the memory of Samuel de Champlain
By Richard Buell
August 05 to August 16, 2013
Funny thing about this Samuel de Champlain character.
He and some fellow adventurers set out in canoes, and enough supplies to last them until their first stop, where they’d use what they had and replenish what they could, and they’d keep paddling, day after day, week after week, even month after month, never knowing where they were going, only that they were going where none of their kind had tread before.
And he did it all without a cell phone, without internet, without a GPS.
Can we even comprehend the difficulty he and his fellow voyageurs must have faced?
Well, says Connaught canoe historian Tim McDonagh, there’s a chance coming up for three more paddlers to join the nine that have already committed to live a part of that Samuel de Champlain experience.
“It’s a perfect time for a canoe celebration,” said McDonagh, who has a wealth of experience in canoe building, canoe paddling, and canoe history. His Kirk Wipper Memorial Canoe Centre in Connaught is the north’s finest memorial to the founder of the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough.
“Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday, and at the same time it’s the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the Champlain expeditions into the interior of Canada,” he said.
He speaks ardently about involvement in these historic events, and how a celebration of canoeing has been arranged for August – the 11-day paddling excursion begins at Old Fort Henry in Kingston on Aug. 5 and ends at Victoria Island in the Ottawa River – directly behind the Parliament Buildings – on Aug 16.
“It’s basically a two-week commitment,” said McDonagh. “It’s really going to be a challenge – but not the kind of challenge Champlain faced. All we’re going to have to do is find a way to portage around 50 locks on the Rideau and Trent Canal systems. There’ll be accommodations to set up, food services to arrange, a whole lot of things to get done, but it’s going to be a memorable experience for everybody who’s taking part. A full day of rest has been planned around the Smith’s Falls area.
The memorializing canoe expedition is being set up by the Voyageur Society of Canada – McDonagh says he was contacted because of his efforts in arranging canoe expeditions and memorial ceremonies during last year’s 100th anniversary celebrations in Iroquois Falls and Black River-Matheson.
“Each canoe will have six paddlers,” he said, “and three others are required to serve on the road crews. So that’s a total of nine people per canoe – and nine canoes have been moved out of Montreal for the beginning of the expedition at Old Fort Henry.
The paddlers will be handling 26-foot North canoes, each weighing 315-360 pounds, and there will be a total of 10 or 11 overnight stops along the route. McDonagh’s group will be paddling in a canoe from the Samuel de Champlain Park near Montreal, and made by noted canoe builder John Winter.
Three of the canoes taking part will be diverted for a time to the Trent canal in Peterborough – site of the world’s largest lift lock – and the paddlers will visit the Canadian National Canoe Museum. McDonagh still requires three more participants from this area – he currently has one each from Iroquois Falls, Connaught and Kirkland Lake, a commitment from another in Smooth Rock Falls, and two paddlers from Timmins.
“Last year, the Mayors of Iroquois Falls and Matheson took part in our canoeing expedition on the Black and Abitibi Rivers - maybe they’d be willing to take part in the remembrance ceremonies during the Samuel de Champlain 400th anniversary canoe trip, to help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.”
Members of the Bear Island First Nation join Iroquois Falls Mayor Gilles Forget in a canoe demonstration during last year’s 100th anniversary celebrations. (Courtesy Tim McDonagh)
Room for one more paddler, in epic canoe challenge
By Richard Buell
How many will remember that we were taught these things in high school? Many residents of the Garden Town of the North and surrounding communities might remember learning some of the history in elementary schools of the north – but today, the need for such knowledge has been eclipsed by video games and other electronic gadgetry that doesn’t do all that well in the history department.
Samuel de Champlain, if there is anything left of his bones to turn, must be spinning in his grave.
As for Tim McDonagh, he of the Kirk Wipper Memorial Canoe Centre on the wind-swept shores of Waratowaca (which, today, we call Frederick House Lake) isn’t yet rolling around in a cemetery plot – but he’s rolling his eyes with the frustration of a man who lives in the present, but has a pipeline to the past that can’t be ignored.
He wasn’t there, back in 1613, when Champlain – arguably Canada’s greatest historical figure in terms of exploration – was nosing around, searching for some kind of canoe route to the Great Northern Sea. (Today, we call it Hudson Bay, although before that, in geological terminology, it was the Tyrrell Sea, and it was frozen solid, the last great Ice Age having settled over much of northern North America until a few thousand years ago).
Anyway, Big Sam Champlain was paddling his big canoe around an area where another river emptied into the Ottawa River. These words are written in his journal – “There is an island in the centre, all covered with trees, like the rest of the land on both sides, and the water slips down with such impetuosity (sic) that it makes an arch of four hundred paces, the Indians passing underneath it without getting wet, except for the spray produced by the fall.”
Samuel de Champlain thought the waterfall represented a sort of a curtain, a curtain of water.
In his native France, the word for a curtain of this sort was rideau.
So that’s how Rideau Falls, the Rideau River, and, eventually, the Rideau Canal got their names.
The Rideau Canal was opened in 1832 – 35 years before Confederation – as a supply route between Montreal and Kingston. It was designed to let the early traders and explorers avoid the St. Lawrence River, where there were not only some rapids, but also the possibility of being tormented by the odd invading American or an unfriendly Native or two.
The canal is about 200 kilometres – 100 miles – long – and Tim McDonagh and a group of other folks who love the history of their country are excited about being able to dip their paddles into the canals’ water in a few weeks – and relive the Samuel de Champlain experience by paddling between Old Fort Henry in Kingston and Ottawa – landing at a spot just behind the Parliament Buildings
The excursion begins Aug. 5 and ends Aug. 16.
It’s not exactly a panic situation – but the local canoe historian needs one more paddler to leave Old Fort Henry with a full complement of voyageurs on Aug. 5.
“Besides myself, we have four canoeists already on board, so almost have a full canoe,” said McDonagh. “From Iroquois Falls we have Scott MacDonald from the MacDonald Aubèrge Inn and Ed Tremblay, Fred Sabet is an experienced voyageur canoeist, and he is joining us from Kitchener, and Mark and Nick Chiasson are coming from Timmins. Mark is a very experienced canoeist – and Nick is experienced as well, even though he’s just 14 years old. It’s the first time such a young canoeist has been allowed to take part in one of these canoe marathons. We just need one more – that will give us a complete crew of six.”
Those familiar with the outdoors, and with the lakes, rivers and streams around Iroquois Falls and area, know that the standard canoe is 14 or 16 feet in length. The canoes that will be taking part in the August excursion are 26 feet long –and there are a whole new set of parameters to become comfortable with.
“Actually, the paddling is always easier with a big canoe,” said McDonagh. “These big canoes can carry more than a ton of goods as well as a crew, so they’re a lot more solid in the water – in your smaller canoes, you’re always paddling like crazy to keep up with the rest of the canoeists in your party, and because they’re so much lighter, two people with gear in a small canoe can always be fighting the wind.”
The canoes being used in the upcoming Rideau Canal excursion are called North canoes – they’re manufactured by five different companies in Canada, and McDonagh asks the public to be aware of the fact that the iconic Temagami Canoe Company, makers of some of the country’s finest custom-built canoes, is not only a maker of North canoes – but is also actively looking for a canoe-building apprentice to carry on the canoe-building tradition that was started when the current owners emigrated from Chicago many years ago.
Tim McDonagh knows canoes, he knows the waters of the north, he has built his own kayak (he built one when he was a student at a school in Cooksville, Ontario) and he has been exploring northern waterways for most of his adult life. Last summer, during the Iroquois Falls 100th anniversary celebrations, he joined with municipal officials and paddled the waterways between Matheson and Iroquois Falls, and worked with Native Canadians in the construction of a birch bark canoe on an island in Lake Temagami.
He needs one more paddler, one more canoeist, one more person with a love of Canada’s history, to take part in the Rideau Canal commemorative canoe expedition.
Anyone interested in commemorating the memory of Samuel de Champlain can call Tim McDonagh in Connaught at 705-363-2122.
A true Voyageur at heart, Tim McDonagh and a group of five other canoeists – including two more from Iroquois falls – will be taking part in a Rideau Canal canoe expedition between Aug. 5-16.
The Power of the canoe
May 1 to August 8, 2012
By Conor Mihell
Things had a way of working out in 2012 for outdoor educator Adam Wicks-Arshack and his colleagues at Voyages of Rediscovery, a Washington-based nonprofit. Last spring, CanoeKayak.com first reported on their KickStarter campaign to reintroduce aboriginal youth to birch-bark canoe-building on Ontario’s Lake Temagami. Having achieved their fundraising goal of $10,000, Wicks-Arshack, and fellow environmental educators John Zinser and Dan Cassell traveled across the country from their base on Washington’s Columbia River to Temagami in May and set up camp near the baseball field at the Ojibwa reserve on Bear Island. Just when they thought they might have to import bark for the construction project, a local craftsman showed them a secret stash of suitable birch. In the end, the team constructed two canoes with the help of native youth, parents, elders and the greater Lake Temagami community.
100. Anniversary Matheson / Iroquois Falls / Timmins
August 1st, 2012
‘Twas the canoe that gave us Canada
Local canoe historian invites public to take part in journey from Matheson to Iroquois Falls to Frederick House.
My seams gape wide so I’m tossed aside
To rot on a lonely shore
While the leaves and mould like a shroud enfold,
For the last of my trails are o’er;
But I float in dreams on Northland streams
That never again I’ll see,
As I lie on the marge of the old portage
With grief for company.
from The Old Canoe by George Marsh 1908
By Richard Buell
“We don’t have the time,” says Tim McDonagh. “Things were happening too slowly, now they’re happening too fast. We need to get a story into The Enterprise this Thursday. This is the 100th anniversary celebration, and it’s never going to happen again, so people have to know what they can do, how they can take part. People have to know – it was the canoe that gave them their country. They have to know how it was done, how they can relive the experience.”
And that’s the way it was left as I loaded the border collie into the Sebring and began the troubling drive back to Matheson, wondering all the while how people could be informed about the one chance in history they might have to settled their bottoms into a 20-foot Voyageur canoe – the same type that was used by La Vérendrye, by le Chevalier Pierre de Troyes, by Sieur d’Iberville, by the, dare we say, the early Indians who inhabited this land of the beaver and the elk, the muskrat and the moose, the rapids and the cataracts.
McDonagh is making every effort to carry on the tradition of the late Kirk Wipper, the celebrated canoe historian, canoe builder, and the founder of the Canadian Canoe Museum down in Peterborough. On McDonagh’s Connaught land, there are the beginnings of what could eventually become a great northern memorial to canoeing, the Kirk Wipper Memorial Voyageur Centre – but for the moment, the retired Abitibi papermaker just wants the public to know there is going to be an important canoe component to this year’s 100th anniversary celebrations in Iroquois Falls
The program begins on Tuesday – July 31st, with a slide show in Matheson, at the family Lodge. Matheson residents know where the Lodge is located - but visitors will find it at 378 Second Street, hard by the south bank of the Black River, the area’s highway to the north long before somebody named Howard Ferguson dreamed of a dusty road that bore his name, or a guy named Latchford pounded in a spike to start a railway to James Bay. The slide show is titled “The Power of the Canoe,” and it’s a remarkable and eloquent tribute to this most basic and most necessary form of transportation in early Canadian history.
Following the slide show, those interested can join a brigade to the north – beginning at 3 p.m. a number of canoes – the big Voyageur canoe holding as many as 20 passengers (who will also be paddlers) will be heading up the Black River to the Coureur-de-Bois Campground at Val Gagné. The paddling should be relatively easy – but bear in mind – those wanting to make the trip must bring their own paddles and their own life jackets. Arrival time at the campground is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., and the Power of the Canoe slide show will be repeated at 9:30 p.m.
The canoeists will overnight at the campground, and leave at 7 a.m. for more paddling, this time to the Black River Boat Launch where the Black and Abitibi Rivers meet, there to be joined by Iroquois Falls Mayor Gilles Forget, Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren and Timiskaming-Cochrane MPP John Vanthof. The brigade is expected to reach the Meadow Creek Boat Launch in Iroquois Falls at 1 p.m., and then will portage one of the canoes to the De Troyes Expedition 1686 Historical Plaque, where a presentation will be made by noted local historian Ed Pedskalny.
Following the presentation, the Brigade will walk to the Jus Jordan Arena (the Complex Hall), toting all the canoes. The public will be invited to met all the paddlers, and the paddlers will have an opportunity to interact among themselves and share thoughts about their experiences. The guest speaker at this event will be John Zinger, from Washington State, who has a wealth of experience not only in Columbia River canoeing but in the history of canoe building as well. He will talk of the birchbark canoe building project currently underway at Bear Island in Lake Temagami. There will be a third showing of The Power of the Canoe slide show, this one for residents of Iroquois Falls.
At 4:30 p.m. the Brigade will travel to the Kirk Wipper Voyageur Centre near Connaught to camp for the night, and enjoy a potluck supper and bonfire.
From 6 to 9 p.m. on August 2 (Thursday) all canoeists – are invited to join in the opening ceremonies for Iroquois Falls’ 100th anniversary celebrations at Anson Park, where the birchbark canoe will be on display.
On August 3 (Friday) in Connaught, the brigade will gather at the Frederick House Massacre memorial Plaque on Highway 610 at Barber’s bay, and will be invited to enjoy a day of paddling on Frederick House Lake. The public is invited to come with a canoe or kayak and enjoy a day of canoeing and fellowship.
There will be a ceremony and gathering at 3 p.m. at the Connaught Museum.
The Brigade canoes available at press time are as follows:
24-foot Birch Bark canoe – Voyages of Rediscovery;
22-foot De Troyes Expedition 2011 supplied by Scott Canoes, New Liskeard;
36-foot Voyageur Canoe, supplied by Northern Spirit Adventures;
26-foot North Canoes (2) – supplied by Iroquois Falls Secondary School;
16-foot Black Ash Canoe (built by Dave Purdy)
26-foot North canoe (from Kirk Wipper Voyageur Centre – host)
We thank the chief of Bear Island, the youth canoe builders and John Zinser for participating with their 26 foot birch bark canoe and also by suprise a 14 foot birch bark canoe just finished build by the youth of Bear Island/Lake Temagami.
Also special thank to Mayor Gilles Forget as he proudly paddled with the Chief of Bear Island and the youth into Iroquois Falls for its 100. Anniversary celebration.
The True Canadian Portage
April 28, 2011 - May 1, 2011
Many thanks to Neil Sorbie for organising this!
Tim McDonagh walked the entire 130 km in behalf of everybody that couldn't be part of the True Canadian Portage.
Kirk Wipper Portage UofT to Canadian Canoe Museum
We are organizing an event whereby the many friends, colleagues and former students of Kirk, as well as people who care for our planet like Kirk did, may show their love and respect for a “true Canadian”. As well as paying tribute to Kirk we would like to raise funds for the Kirk Wipper award at UofT and the Canadian Canoe Museum which he helped establish. The essence of the tribute is portaging a canoe from Hart House at UofT to the Museum, in Peterborough in his honour.
The event will begin on Thursday April 28/11 at Hart House and finish at the Museum on Sunday May 1/11 at 2p.m. which will coincide with a memorial already planned at the Museum.
We will be portaging approximately 40km/day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and the final leg will be 10 km on Sunday. The route will be divided into 13 sections of 10 km each and will essentially follow a Google map walking route from Hart House to the Museum with some tweaking. In order to ease the organizational aspect we are looking for an additional 12 section leaders who will take responsibility for a particular to 10 km section.
Above all we are looking for friends of Kirk who would like to demonstrate their respect for him by taking responsibility for portaging the canoe 500 metres each. It would be fantastic if each portage would/could raise a minimum of $100.00 (more would be even better) that will be donated to either the Kirk Wipper award or the Museum.
Please note that some of you may not have the capacity to carry the canoe but that’s not to say that your children, relatives or friends could not do it on your behalf. Creativity is more than welcomed. Please feel free to contribute any additional ideas for this fun event.
One suggestion that has been made is that individual sections could be portaged by specific groups of friends of Kirk. This could be an individual PHE graduating year or a group of campers or camping staff.
If you are able to be involved in this please email Neil Sorbie and indicate if you wish to be a section leader, portage, spotter or other (or all of the above).
Thank You, Neil Sorbie
Voyageurs Cry 2000 "On Great Lake Abitibi"
August 11st to August 20, 2000
Expedition exposes untapped potential of northern canoe routes
By Tim Ruhnke, News Editor, The Enterprise Iroquois Falls
They travelled back in time on a route that could have a promising futures as a tourist destination.
Local canoe promoter Tim McDonagh led a nine-person expedition through a portion of the route travelled by the DeTroyes/D'Iberville expedition of 1686.
The expedition began August 12 at Duparquet, Quebec and arrived five days later at Twin Falls.
Voyageurs Cry 2000 was a millennium project spearheaded by McDonagh, who took part in a 1995 voyageur expedition from Mattawa to Iroquois Falls.
Among the participants in the special millennium journey were three women from Ohio who met McDonagh five years ago at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park near Mattawa. Barbara Langlotz and Joan Selby said they had never canoed before and agreed with some trepidation to join McDonagh in a canoe trip on the Mattawa River.
One day and seven portages later, the women discovered that they loved the experience and wanted more.
"We all appreciate Tim for introducing us to canoeing," Linda Engel said.
The voyage on Lake Abitibi was one that all participants would remember. The weather took a nasty turn after three days of good conditions. Strong winds and large hail stones made for quite an adventure. One of the tents blew away, and a man from across the lake ventured out and assisted some of the canoeists.
"It was wild up there," said McDonagh.
But the harsh weather gave participants a sense of what it must have been like for travellers whose options would have been limited. As tough as it may have been, the women from Ohio had no regrets about taking part in the expedition.
They cited the natural beauty, lack of development and the friendliness of the people as reasons they enjoy visiting the region.
All three women indicated they would like to return; however, they are not interested in making a second run at Lake Abitibi. Selby said she found Abitibi to be much more difficult to handle than Lake Nipigon.
The paddlers got together at a social gathering last Thursday at the Glendale in Iroquois Falls. On hand were representatives from the Lake Abitibi Model Forest and Kirk Wipper, a former president of the Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association.
McDonagh has established a canoeing information centre on former highway 67 near the Connaught turnoff. The centre was named in honour of Wipper, a university professor who collected hundreds of canoes during his travels and donated most of them to a national canoe museum.
"I do hope his concept of a centre will evolve into something very significant," Wipper told The Enterprise.
Wipper, who hails from Northern Manitoba, said he considers this region to be part of what he calls the true north.
Many people who live in this area may not fully understand its unique character and potential. He believes projects which change attitudes and bring people together are needed; Wipper admires McDonagh for his vision of a canoeing centre.
As for McDonagh, he is hoping to add a slide, video and book library to the sitting room he has set up at the centre.
Other features will be added to the property, but McDonagh noted it will be a lengthy process.
McDonagh pointed out that Iroquois Falls is the only town located on the Abitibi River, and the community should tap into the potential that the river system has to offer.
"Anyone who doesn't think there's money in canoeing doesn't know what they're talking about," he said.
The model forest has a program which could lead to the identification and development of canoe routes, according to McDonagh. Expeditions on other river systems in the north are in the works.
McDonagh said there is no end to the potential for canoeing, kayaking and hiking in the region.
The De Troyes Expedition re-enactment 1995
August 1 to September 1, 1995
Author Pathways - The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education, Volume 6, No. 5, Summer 1994
Some individuals, mindful of Canadian history and heritage, struggle to reunite Canadians with their past. One such individual is Tim McDonagh, President of the Iroquois Falls Canoe and Kayak Club. Currently, McDonagh is organizing a re-enactment of part of the De Troyes Expedition route, from Mattawa to Irqoquois Falls.
McDonagh is organizing a re-enactment of part of the De Troyes Expedition route, from Mattawa to Iroquois Falls.
McDonagh's prime objective is to have the Mattawa to James Bay passage designated as a Canadian Heritage Route. This is a long, tedious process involving the elicitation of community, provincial and federal support.
Iroquois Falls, McDonagh's home community, lies on the northern leg of the expedition route. Street names - namely, De Troyes, D'Iberville and Ste. Helene, leading members of the original expedition - serve as reminders of the region's history. McDonagh learned this history during his youth.
The idea of re-enacting the expedition route occurred to McDonagh when he mat Don Meany at Canoe Expo in Etobicoke, Ontario, two years ago. Meany had been part of a canoe expedition from Vancouver to Montreal marked to coincide with the opening ceremonies of Expo 67. McDonagh was enthralled by Meany's tales of adventure. Remembering the voyageur history of his northern homeland, he entertained the idea of bringing De Troyes' expedition route to prominent attention.
McDonagh discussed the feasibility of a re-enactment with friends and associates. Six months later, the idea turned to action. he began to plan, organize, and seek sponsorship.
The re-enactment is scheduled in August 1995. It will start at the Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, west of Mattawa, and will finish at Iroquois Falls. The course, covering about 400 kilometres, will be broken into three sections: from Mattawa to New Liskeard, from New Liskeard to Lake Abitibi, and from Lake Abitibi to Iroquois Falls. These divisions will allow canoeists to complete segments of the expedition. Public information stopovers are being negotiated in Temiskaming, Ville Marie, Haileybury, New Liskeard and Matheson.
Participants completing the full circuit will travel by voyageur canoe. This canoe, fully loaded, can average 80 kilometres a day, and without diversion, could complete the course in about 10 days. Re re-enactment, however, is not a race; it will be spread over a three week period.
A three-day regatta on Frederickhouse Lake, Connaught, Ontario, is currently being organised for the summer of 1994. This regatta will be a meeting place for all canoesits interested in the Re-enactment. Specific departure/arrival dates, stopovers, and supply requirements will be decided and established during this meeting.
De Troyes' water route will offer scenic beauty, solitude, repose, fun, education, and as many challenges as an experienced canoeist can handle. The participants will gain a lifetime of memories and friendships.
The discovery of the Montreal-James Bay voyageur route is attributed to Chevalier Pierre De Troyes. In the mid-1600's, the British established several forts in James Bay to negotiate fur trade with northern Amerindian tribes. The French, sovereigns of the land, saw the British encampments as threats to their dominion and to the fur trade. In 1686, the French Gouverneur dispatched De Troyes to capture these British forts and to entrench French rule. Historically, the venture is known as the De Troyes Expedition.
To reach James Bay, De Troyes and his men had to cut through unchartered landscapes. The path from Montreal to Mattawa along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers was well known to early trappers and fur traders. Little was known of the region north of Lake Temiskaming. With nothing but a compass, a sketchy knowledge of watersheds, and the sketchy directions offered by Natives the expedition met along the way. De Troyes coursed his way to James bay along waterways skirting the present day Ontario-Quebec border. It was an arduous, 400 km-journey.
Thank you Bob Henderson (Queens University Hamilton) for that very informative write up on the De Troyes Expedition Re-enactment.