Thirty years of marriage
celebrated in Algonquin Park

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 wouldn’t be that far from the parking lot, if comfort called.

On the scenic side

The Canisbay Lake backcountry sites can be reserved, but like the Algonquin interior canoe sites, back then, you were only guaranteed a spot – wherever. The sites were 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.

Gearing up

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.


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