Canoe Trip Log #3:  Algonquin Park, Aug. 11-16, 1996 


One-way -- Achray Campground to Squirrel Rapids on Barron River, via Grand, Stratton, St. Andrews, High Falls, Ooze, Opalescent and Brigham Lakes, and Barron Canyon

(Adapted from a map produced by The Portage Store)


Louise, Lucie, Margaret, Melanie, Sandee K., Sandee S., Lucie's Cocker Spaniel


3 X 16' Scott Kevlar Canoes (50 lbs. each)


The Canyon is just a 2 1/2 hour drive from Ottawa, and it is possible to travel the length of the canyon as a day trip, so this route was far more populated than any interior canoe route we had experienced previously. During our two days and nights in the canyon we were not only visited by numerous day-trippers, but were also "treated" to the sound of tank fire round-the-clock and were buzzed by military helicopters several times... apparently the Petawawa Military Reserve, which borders the park, just 5 km from the canyon, hosts military maneuvers for one week each August. We were not aware of this prior to our visit. If we had been, we would have chosen a different week. Despite all of the above distractions and detractions, the canyon trip was well worth the effort... an awe-inspiring experience. If you are planning to visit the area, make sure you also leave time to hike the 1.5 km trail that overlooks the canyon...

DAY 1 (Sunday)

Travel: Drive two vehicles from Toronto to Achray Campground via Hwys 400, 11, 60, 62, 17, Renfrew County Roads #26 & #28 (#28 is also known as Achray Road)

Driving Time: 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. (minus 1 hr, 15 min for lunch at The Portage Store, Canoe Lake & 45 min to pick up canoes from Algonquin Portage Store on Achray Road) = 7 hrs

Weather: Sunny

Quote of the day: "Are we there yet??!!"

Camp: Achray Campground, site #15

Supper: Hamburgers, Salad

Camp events, evening: Unload canoes and gear at the campground (the starting point of the one-way canoe trip); Drive both vehicles to Squirrel Rapids parking area (the finishing point of the canoe trip), leave one vehicle there, drive the other vehicle back to Achray Campground; "Dishes in the dark...exchanging soap suds..."; Shooting-star gazing on the beach; Campfire

Overnight: C-c-c-cold!!!

DAY 2 (Monday)

Ladies, start your's finally canoe-time!

Travel: Achray Campground to St. Andrews Lake, via Grand Lake and Stratton Lake, with a stop at scenic High Falls (north arm of Stratton Lake) en route

Time: 11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. (minus 1 hour at High Falls) = 3 hrs, 30 min.
(NOTE: Times in this Trip Log are based upon two trips across each portage -- one with canoe and food; one with gear)

Weather: Windy, sunny, occasional clouds

Canoe distance: 12 km (including side-trip to High Falls)

Portages: 1

Portage distance: 30m (we were able to skip one other portage-- 45m-- by wading downriver with the canoes)

Camp: 4th site on St. Andrews Lake, awesome fire pit, with two "kitchen tables" [NOTE: More campsites are available than shown on this year's Canoe Routes map!]

Supper: Freeze-dried lasagna, Bagels, English muffins, Cookies, Tang (Oops: Sandee K. dumps the contents of one package of lasagna on the ground as she opens it; nice job on the instructions, manufacturer... you coulda mentioned that the inner packets are not sealed!!!)

Quote of the day: "Here's your tang... shaken, not stirred!"

Camp events, evening: Hanging the food pack becomes quite a challenge... a large rock gives our cup added weight, but skin gets burned off Sandee S's hand as the rope goes flying by; Swimming; Reading; The Sandees go out in the canoe exploring

Overnight: Clear and cool

Camp events, the following morning: Six loons come by camp to sing us a morning lullaby!!

DAY 3 (Tuesday)

Travel: St. Andrews Lake to Opalescent Lake, via High Falls and Ooze Lakes

Time: 10:15 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. = 4 hrs, 45 min

Weather: Hot and sunny, few clouds

Canoe distance: 3 km

Portages: 3

Portage distance: 550m + 300m + 640m = 1490m

Travel events: Portage to High Falls Lake has beautiful view of the falls... unfortunately, very crowded with other canoeists the day we were there; Ooze Lake: water snake, four beaver lodges... one with flowers at front... nice touch... should be a "Country Living Award" winner!!!

Camp: On Opalescent Lake, beside the portage leading to Brigham Lake

Supper: Freeze dried stew, Kraft dinner, English muffins/pita, Grape cocktail, Rice Krispie Squares

Camp events, evening: Greeted by several woodpeckers as we set up camp; Huge snapping turtle (1 1/2 foot diameter shell; nails almost as long as Sandee K's!!!) almost bit Lucie when she was rinsing a dish -- instead, chomped the wooden spoon; Baby snappy came by for a visit as well; The Sandees explore Opalescent by canoe... water gorgeous, calm, saw a water snake and a beaver; Lucie and Melanie hike the portage to Brigham (will be our first portage tomorrow); Hanging the food pack: Sandee K. sets a record, requiring only two throws!; Campfire

Quotes of the day: "Where are our paddles?" (swiped by other canoeists on a portage and recovered later) "Look at THAT spider!!!" (the one with the hairy legs, that's as big as a hand!)

Overnight: Clear, a bit cool, no wind

DAY 4 (Wednesday)

Travel: Opalescent Lake to Barron Canyon, via Brigham Lake and Barron River

Time: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. = 3 hrs

Weather: Sunny, warm

Canoe distance: 5 km

Portages: 2

Portage distance: 730m + 440m (we were able to skip one other portage-- 110m-- by shooting the rapids... "catch a wave, and you're sittin' on top of the world!!") = 1170m

Injury en route: Sandee S. throws her back out while carrying a canoe, just 40m short of completing the 730m portage from Opalescent to Brigham Lake... we offer to take Sandee out of the interior via Brigham Access (a 20-minute paddle away) and then to hospital or home, but like-a-trouper she insists upon staying with us, rather than interrupting our trip. For the remainder of the canoe trip, Sandee S., plagued by back spasms and stiffness, cannot paddle or carry any gear: Margaret solo-paddles a canoe carrying four backpacks and a couple of food packs (the gear barge); Sandee K. and Louise transport Sandee S. in an empty canoe (the ambulance); everyone carries extra stuff on portages; Louise and Sandee K. help Sandee S. in and out of the canoe; Sandee S. shuffles her way across portages, aided by the support of two canoe paddles; Sandee K. ties her tent-mate's shoes, unpacks and re-packs Sandee S's gear, etc., as required.

Quote of the day: Sandee S., after injuring her back: "I'm going to make Louise (7 months pregnant) look positively agile!"

Camp: Barron River, below Barron Canyon, near the stream flowing in from Ignace Lake (marshy site; black muck by the shore; we had to paddle out for water, even to wash our hands...the farther downriver from the canyon, the "marshier" the campsites are) ...mound of dirt in campsite that looked as if it might be covering a dead body... very spooky! (ha! ha!)

Camp events, afternoon: Surprise baby shower for Louise, who is 7 months pregnant!!! ...for the occasion, we portaged-in a banner, balloons, an assortment of Hickory Farms cheeses, Triscuits, thick-cut melba toast, ingredients for a 4-layer bannock cake (made on the Coleman), Betty Crocker deluxe frosting, koolaid, camping-theme baby gifts and even paper doilies!!! Sandee S. blows up balloons and decorates the top of the cake (while lying on a tarp) and Margaret makes the rest of the party preparations, while the rest of the gang are away getting drinking water and swimming in the canyon

Supper: Cheese and crackers, Kraft dinner, Bannock cake

Camp events, evening: Campfire

Overnight: Clear, a bit cool, no wind

DAY 5 (Thursday)

A day-off in camp!

Travel: Move camp a 10-minute paddle upstream to the first campsite below the canyon...very nice. The remainder of the day is for R & R near the canyon

Weather: Overcast in a.m., storm of EPIC proportions in afternoon!!; overcast and misty in evening

Camp events, afternoon: Chopping/sawing logs found by fire pit, for campfire; Reading; Group photo; Cribbage; THE STORM: Giant winds break rope holding cookhouse tarp; bright flashes, loud crashing thunder, buckets of rain... Margaret goes out in the midst of the storm to check on Sandee S., alone in Sandee K's tent. The front half of the tent is sitting in a 4" deep puddle...water is leaking in through the seams between the floor and sidewall and through the door zipper. Margaret suggests to Sandee S. that she move to another tent, so Margaret can shift this one to higher ground. Sandee is not agile enough to get out of the tent at this time. Margaret is forced to dig a shallow trench to drain water away from the tent.

Quote of the day: "Sandee S. had to scramble like a snail to keep the water from coming into the tent." (she stuffed items of clothing against the seams that were leaking)

Supper: Rice dish, Garlic bread, Left over bannock cake, Cookies

Camp events, evening: Campfire; Margaret, Sandee K. and Melanie paddle up the canyon and back just before dusk...canyon misty and gorgeous after the storm, water smooth as glass, only the sound of waterfalls and ravens breaking the silence, no other humans anywhere in intimate, unforgettable experience

Overnight: Overcast, short period of rain

DAY 6 (Friday)

Breakfast: Wholewheat, raisin, sugar-cinnamon bannock... nice variation on the traditional recipe... will definitely bring this along again next year!!

Travel: Canoe Barron River, below canyon, to Squirrel Rapids

Time: 10 a.m. - 12:30 a.m. = 2 hrs, 30 min

Weather: Overcast

Canoe distance: 3.5 km

Portages: 1

Portage distance: 420m

Travel: Drive from Squirrel Rapids to Achray Campground to pick up the other vehicle. Drive both vehicles back to Toronto in the afternoon/evening, stopping at Algonquin Portage, Achray Road, to drop-off the canoes and at The Portage Store, Canoe Lake, for supper en route

TRIP TOTALS (over 4 of 6 days)

Canoeing/portaging travel time: 13 hrs, 45 min

Canoe distance: 23.5 km

Portages: 7

Portage distance: 3110m (3.1 km)

Overall canoeing/portaging distance: 26.6 km (88% water travel; 12% portages)


Sandee S. is going to be fine... a couple days after the trip she was already feeling much better. Nothing a little R & R and some back care exercises can't fix!


It's a boy!!! Louise's baby arrived on Sunday, September 29, two weeks early and just six weeks after we returned from the canoe trip. Mom and baby are both just fine.

Barron Canyon area description:

Other Barron Canyon area Canoe Trip Logs:

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