Canoeing in Ontario

The word ‘Ontario’ when translated from the original version in Iroquois means ‘sparkling water’ or ‘beautiful lake’. The quintessential Canadian wilderness experience of canoeing and kayaking arose out of necessity, but remains popular among many outdoor enthusiasts today.

The name, Ontario is certainly fitting, as approximately 68,490 square miles, including 250,000 lakes (about one-third of the world’s fresh water) are found in Ontario. To put it into perspective, one sixth of the area of the province of Ontario is water. For some, a guided canoe adventure is the ultimate way to explore the beautiful lakes and rivers the province has to offer. Many adventure companies offer top of the line equipment rental, expert instruction on paddling techniques, spectacular scenery and deliciously prepared meals, in addition to lodging options ranging from modest to luxurious.

For those adventurous souls that prefer a self guided expedition, Ontario waters are the perfect place to plan solo discovery tours. The rhythmic, tranquil sound of paddling, while taking in the breathtaking Ontario scenery, and perhaps occasional loons or other wildlife sighting along the shore, is an outdoor experience unsurpassed. Of course, particularly with canoeing or kayaking alone, it is always important to take precautions such as informing others of our planned itinerary, carefully preparing and checking over our equipment, and verifying weather conditions will be safe during our paddling time.

Two canoeists paddling up a small channel in a wetland.
Photo: Some rights reserved by James D. Schwartz

Some of the most common Ontario destinations for canoeing or kayaking include the historic French River, Georgian Bay, through the many interconnected waterways in the Muskoka region, along the provincial coastline and within the five Great Lakes. Additionally, there are many remote locations in Ontario with smaller rivers and lakes that provide single or multi day paddling excursions with incredible scenery, and are the perfect natural surroundings for relaxing and recharging.

Algonquin Provincial Park is the oldest provincial park in all of Canada, and its name is synonymous with canoeing and kayaking. With nearly 2500 lakes, in addition to countless rivers and streams within the borders of the park, it has inspired a passion for paddling among thousands. Its conveniently close proximity to Toronto and Ottawa make the location of the park an ideal destination for many visitors, though without a doubt, traveling from near or far to discover the diversity of beauty uniquely found in Algonquin is immeasurable.

Whether our ideal canoe or paddling excursion is for a few quiet hours on a lake at dusk, a guided tour, or an adrenaline oriented paddle that includes maneuvering the challenging rapids of the French River, Ontario offers waterways suited to all skill levels, age groups and interests. And, after our time on the water, the options are endless as to whether we would prefer to end the day by soaking up the night sky by campfire, or soaking in a private jacuzzi tub, and nestling into a soft cozy bed at a comfortable resort. We may opt for our own freshly caught fish cooked camp side, or the ‘catch of the day’ prepared by one of Canada‘s finest chefs, and a perfectly paired wine to celebrate an enjoyable day. In Ontario, the story is ours to write, the journey, ours to discover.

For those who have dreamed of canoeing or kayaking in the Canadian wilderness, Ontario is not only unique, but the standard by which other areas are measured. From beginner to expert level, and perfect for families, couples or solo travellers, the lakes and rivers in Ontario offer paddling experiences ideal for all types of adventurers. With stunning beauty, and an incredible variety of outdoor vacation styles, Ontario padding is truly a canoeist or kayaker’s paradise.

Feature photo credit:  Canoe reflection, Some rights reserved by rkelland