It doesn’t get any more Canadian than paddling yourself across our sparkling blue waters.
If you’ve ever seen some photos or footage of Canadians paddling on a serene lake with mist rising in the morning and a loon calling out in the background, chances are it was filmed in the wilderness north of Toronto. That’s because this neck of the Ontario woods is recognized for some of the best paddling in the nation, from Algonquin Park in the east to Georgian Bay in the west.
It doesn’t matter what your skill level is – paddling can be as easy or as challenging as you want to make it. And whether you are meandering at a leisurely pace or speeding along, you will be gob-smacked by the natural landscape around you. (And a visit to iconic Algonquin Provincial Park – one of Canada’s most popular parks – would not be complete without sitting in a canoe!)
If you don’t have your own canoe, kayak or stand up paddle board, there are plenty of outfitters across the region who have rentals available. Many also offer guided paddling excursions or lessons. Most accommodations providers have paddling equipment at their establishments as well – just ask when you book your stay.
For more adventurous paddlers – with more skills and no fear of a portage or two – consider a trip onto Georgian Bay or into one of a dozen national and provincial parks. Outfitters have maps and insight to get your planning started. And consider some trips off the beaten waters, like the Pickerel River in Loring-Restoule, offering 42 kms of navigable waters over to the French River gorge and Georgian Bay. Ask a local for route recommendations and you’ll discover some little known gems, like the Magnetawan River in the Almaguin Highlands.
Here’s famed Canadian paddler Kevin Callan learning about stand up paddle (SUP) boarding – the latest paddling craze in the wilderness north of Toronto.