Paddlers’ Paradise

Paddling and summer go hand-in-hand at Ontario Parks. But as this post demonstrates, you don’t need to be an expert to have a paddle-themed visit!

At Earl Rowe and Pinery Provincial Parks, you can learn to paddle your own canoe. A Safe Canoeing Program is planned twice daily at Earl Rowe Provincial Park from July 11-17, excluding Thursdays. The 2-hour morning and afternoon sessions are led by an ORKCA-certified instructor. They cover water safety, paddle skills, how to get in and out of a canoe, lifting and carrying a canoe and more. Cost is just $12 a person or $30 for a family. Call the Earl Rowe Park Store for details: 705-435-3020. At Pinery Provincial Park on Lake Huron, a 2-hour canoe hike is offered Friday mornings. The paddle is led by a naturalist down the park’s Old Ausable Channel. Bring your own canoe, paddles and lifejackets or rent from the park. A Celebration of the Canoe weekend is also planned for August 17-18. Canoe builders will be at it along with canoe demonstrations, expert paddlers and more. Click here for more information.

What are the best canoe routes in Ontario? Here’s your chance to find out. Ontario paddler and author, Kevin Callan, has just released a new book, “50 Best Canoe Routes in Ontario”, and he will be sharing what he knows at the Bon Echo Provincial Park on July 17 at 8pm.

Pursuing art is another popular park activity. We even found one with a paddle theme. A Soapstone Carving and Paddle Making Workshop will take place at several Ontario Parks this summer, including Balsam, Awenda and Killbear. Led by master carver, Lloyd Stonehouse, you provide the sweat, elbow grease and creative spark while Lloyd provides the materials, equipment and guidance. Prices range from $2 for a small stone blank to over $120 for a cherry wood paddle blank. Workshop dates are June 30- July 3 for Balsam Lake Provincial Park, August 17- 21 for Awenda Provincial Park and August 24-28 for Killbear Provincial Park. Click here for more details on park event listings.

Quetico Provincial Park in northwestern Ontario was well-travelled by Ojibwa and fur traders and today it’s a favourite on paddler bucket lists. Every Labour Day weekend, the park hosts a special self-guided Interior Pictograph Paddle to its four park pictograph sites. At each site, a park naturalist explains the myths and legends surrounding the sacred pictographs.