1 By 2010, after thirty years of marriage, my wife and I had already camped in Algonquin Park seven times. Three of those - our honeymoon in 1980, and then again in 1995 and 2005 - we camped without kids, so we were keen to go back in 2010 with just the two of us. But now we wanted to up the ante by camping in the interior again, thirty years after the abandoned attempt at canoe tripping on our honeymoon. We decided to try a compromise between car camping and canoe tripping. Canisbay Lake had a number of sites that we could canoe into and just stay put. We had already camped as a family in the Canisbay campground, so this seemed safe. We didn't go to much trouble minimizing equipment so that we could travel light. We simply resigned ourselves to taking in two canoe loads of stuff, since we wouldn't be that far from the parking lot.
2 The Cansibay Lake backcountry sites can be reserved, but like the Algonquin interior canoe sites you are only guaranteed a spot - wherever. The sites are all first-come, first-served, so we had no idea what we'd end up with. Paddling up the west shore, we noticed various empty spots, but soon concluded that one of the first was the best, so we turned back and we hoped that it had not been taken in the meantime. Fortunately it was still vacant, and when we made landing we found a very nice, spacious site. Our practice of beginning camping after a weekend has served us well. On this stay from Monday to Friday the lake was quiet.
The view out is definitely better than the view in to this site and we very much enjoyed the opportunity to just sit and look. The shoreline of Canisbay Lake is rather dull by Canadian Shield standards but it is still lovely, and the large pine tree that straddles the rock framed our view with lots of Tom Thomson character. We wouldn't do this trip again, but Canisbay Lake was a good introduction to canoe camping and the thought of comfort stations within paddling distance will be as appealing to some as it was to us.
3 From the canoe launch (1 - right by a parking lot) to the campsite where we stayed (2) is about 1.5 km. At a speed of 3km/hr, this makes for a trip of about half an hour. So it is quite feasible to go out for hamburgers at the Portage Store, if the urge strikes. Click on the google map icon to view a map location.
4 It's not unusual for people with a keen eye to write about the things that they witness. This gallery of photos and notes about a canoe trip to Canisbay Lake falls easily into the category of travelogue extolling the virtues of a destination and its experience. If our enjoyment encourages you to follow in our tracks and share in our experience then the exhibition is worth putting on.
But destination is only part of it. There are many wonderful places to visit that you and I will never lay eyes on so, for me, it is the journey and the approach to being in these places that really matters in this gallery presentation. There is very little about canoe-camping that is pre-packaged. We don't go to consume 'attractions' - we go to be and to become. Camping in the wilderness is an intimate experience and this, I hope, will be the impression that stays with you and encourages your own becoming part of the natural world.
5 Press F1 anytime for this aid to gallery navigation. And consider using the interactive access features (Facebook and Comments) at the bottom of each page.
6 This is the Canisbay Lake canoe-in site we called home for four days, in the evening, when the sun has long since advanced over land. This is the wrong side of the lake for sunsets.
7 We arrived mid-afternoon with our first load. By early evening we were nicely established on our spacious campsite.
8 These are 30 year old tv tables (wedding gift) and a dishpan setup on a bag frame. We've used the tables for everything but tv.
9 My first nature picture of the trip shows a fringe of wetness at water's edge.
10 We were roused the next morning at six-fifteen by a very large and noisy family of ducks.
11 The sunrise that first morning, looking out from the side shore of our campsite, does not show the same strength of character as those on later days.
12 The sun lays down its yellow brick road directly to anyone who cares to look.
13 ~ Quarter to eight, July 27, 2010 - the first time I have been able to capture on camera the here-to-fore elusive phenomenon of a skinny-dipping Wendy. She emerged from our tent, took a look around at the vast expanse of uninhabited wilderness, felt the warmth of the rising sun and went for it. I had already been up for an hour and a half so I just stood back in amazement and pointed my camera at the wild side.
14 ~ If we but look beyond our wake we find infinity.
15 ~ It's not often that turbulence breaches the peace with such clarity and premonition and under such a lovely light.
16 Footings are critical for getting in and out of the water. Even the arms must sometimes be called into service.
17 After her refreshing swim, Wendy combs out the wildness while still enjoying the view.
18 ~ Between bright light and the deep darkness is but a small space.
19 There are some luxurious spots of softness among the hard rocks and roots and trees.
20 A mushroom stands alone .
21 Moss grows under-foot around the root snaking down to the canoe landing.
22 We set up the dining canopy for an overnighter, to give shelter from the drizzle.
23 The coffee is being measured out once more.
24 Henry could use more time to cool his heels and read a book.
25 This snake slid out from under the tangled roots of the pine tree long enough for me to get in a couple of shots.
26 Wendy's colourful new hat and matching top are a wonderful counterpoint to the natural hues.
27 The far shore catches the setting sun while we are reduced to getting our warmth from a campfire.
28 This sunrise gets its character from unique cloud formations.
29 We were pleased to have our very own 'Group of Seven' pine tree.
30 After all the work of keeping our food secure we saw only one chipmunk on site. As someone suggested though, there is probably a cause and effect here.
31 ~ Renovator's rule: always consider the view when planning a kitchen.
32 There was no picnic table, but a construction of logs gave us some height to build on with our crates. Forgive us if this all seems a bit over the top for a canoe trip. We've got thirty years of family camping behind us and the old ways die hard. We also didn't feel like investing in all new, light-weight gear for a trip that might just be a one-off. We considered the options carefully when we were planning and it became obvious that one canoe load of gear would not support us in the style to which we were accustomed. Then, when we reached the tipping point of needing a second load, we didn't hesitate to make it worth our while and fill it up.
We had camped at Canisbay Lake before and had seen that loading up the canoe required only a short carry from the parking lot. And we wouldn't have to portage to get to any of the campsites. So no herculean efforts were required. Otherwise we might not have had three crates with us - they're great to pack odd's and ends into, but a bear to carry over long distances.
So we say to anyone considering interior canoe camping; don't let your lack of "approved" gear stop you. You can still enjoy the experience as long as your campsite doesn't require a long paddle and/or a portage to get to it.
33 This butterfly came on its own and seems to be waiting for a fix.
34 The campfire was started with kindling from my shop and with a propane torch. My apologies to the purists.
35 ~ Sometimes all you actually see of the water is its surface, here reflecting sky and trees and thighs and knees. But in spite of, or because of this, the water seems to be extraodinarily clear, inviting and refreshing.
36 ~ To see a woman, dear as gold, so gilded by the sun, brings a heart of joy to the sight of eyes.
37 ~ Oh the contortions to keep bodily portions in balance over a slippery slope.
38 ~ Emerged and emerging from out of the deep.
39 These ducks came back regularly. When they found food they made a huge racket, splashing around in the water. This looks most like the female common merganser in our field guide, but this one lacks a white breast and throat.
40 The nineteen ducks proceeded single file to the next feeding station.
41 I awoke to this spectacular sunrise, just after 6 am on our last day. Thank you Lord for aging bladders.
42 There is just a touch of light on the rock to the right in this view of the morning mist over Canisbay Lake.
43 To the left there is more to catch the sun and throw off some colour.
44 ~ I had only six minutes to experience this sunrise. Though it was cold, I didn't dare take the time to get dressed. No one seemed to mind.
45 ~ Creation, too, expects new life and waits with open arms to embrace the sun.
46 Half an hour later, it's much lighter, but the mist persists.
47 Well after the light show was over, Wendy finally got out of bed. Here, our height difference is quite pronounced.
48 Within minutes of setting out on an early morning (7:00) canoe exploration we saw a bull moose just down the shore from our campsite.
49 As we came quietly closer, the moose kept eyeing us suspiciously, before finally crashing back up into the woods.
50 Towards the bottom of Canisbay Lake we met a couple of old ducks like us.
51 ~ Opposing colours can seem serene in some settings.
52 Henry takes the stern, cheerfully.
53 On our last day we paddled past a group of seven loons, the most we have ever seen together.
54 We saw loons every day. Three came by our site regularly.
55 By eleven we were packed and ready to leave our beloved site. Please note that we recycle. My pelican case for the camera was the last to be stowed.
Newmaker is the spirit that drives a lifetime of creativity, and is a reflection of the Creator who continues to make all things new.
H.James Company is the business name for the renovation services of Henry de Jong since 1991. Services have been offered as sub-contractor and as contractor, but primarily as a professional craftsman working alone. Working on small to medium size jobs allows a personal committment to executing every detail with the same care, and to working one job at a time, on a steady and predictable schedule.