Canoe Celebration at Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park on the historic Mattawa River is the perfect place to celebrate the canoe this spring! Connect with people who love to paddle. Experience something new like paddling a voyageur canoe or making a paddle. Celebrate our proud paddling heritage.

On Saturday June 23rd, Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park and the Canadian Ecology Centre will host a National Canoe Day Celebration to pay tribute to nearly 10,000 years of canoeing heritage along the Mattawa River.

Archaeological evidence shows settlements above Lake Nipissing and the Mattawa River dating back 9,600 years – perhaps they came by canoe. At this time the Mattawa River flowed more than 100m higher than today, swollen with the glacial melt water of the last ice age.

For the Anishinabek and later, Europeans like Samuel de Champlain, the Mattawa River facilitated travel and trade by canoe. Without the luxury of modern roads and railways, canoeing was the only option for navigating the rugged geography of the Canadian Shield.

The Mattawa River is infamous for its challenging, but scenic portages. Despite this, the ingenious birch bark canoes of the Anishinabek grew into enormous 11m (36’) freighter canoes to satisfy the European demand for Canadian furs. Voyageurs paddled and carried these 600lb canoes across the Mattawa River carrying thousands of pounds of trade goods and furs each season.

Today, the Mattawa River is a paddler’s paradise – with today’s lightweight canoes you can experience the rugged beauty of the Mattawa River.

On Saturday June 23rd we’re celebrating the canoe! Highlights include:

Reel Paddling Film Festival:
See the best paddling films of the year: from the graceful paddling of Becky Mason to adrenaline pumping white-water and short films of the places we love!

Voyageur Canoe Tours: Live like its 1796! Experience the life of a voyageur at the height of the fur trade by paddling a voyageur canoe on the Mattawa River. Our knowledgeable guides will help you discover part of our proud Canadian heritage.

Paddle Making: Paddling is about the journey, not the destination. Personalize your journey by carving and finishing a paddle. Knowledgeable staff provide tools and coaching. Miniature paddles are perfect for finishing and painting!

Kids Campfire:
Gather round! Try cooking and eating bannock, a famous canoeing delicacy. Have some fun with traditional voyageur games and activities.

Paddle Demonstration: Do you use a beaver tail, otter tail, Northwoods, dragon boat, bentshaft or something else completely? A short talk will introduce you to some of the history and evolution of paddles and give you an overview of the tools and techniques for crafting your own.

Mattawa River Visitor Centre: Long before highways and railways, the birch bark canoe made travel on the Mattawa River possible. Stop by the visitors centre to see the fine craftsmanship and art of the birch bark canoe. A highlight is the 38’ voyageur “Canôt d’maitre”. The exhibits explore the rich natural and cultural history of the Mattawa River.

Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park is located 40 minutes East of North Bay, 10 minutes West of Mattawa. Planning to stay for the weekend? Book your campsite or on-site accommodation now!

To find out more call 705 744-2276 x 204 or email or check out the links below:
Reel Paddling Film Festival
National Canoe Day
Canadian Ecology Centre
Algonquin North Outfitters

For more information on fees, click here.