Much of Canada’s interior harbours an ancient, virtually uninhabited boreal forest riven by an intricate network of marshes, streams, rivers and lakes. It’s the perfect place to explore by kayak. Avid kayaker Lori Janeson, who lives on the shores of Manitoba’s enormous Lake Winnipeg with her husband David, loves introducing native Canadians and outsiders alike to her beloved sport of kayaking. But she’s adamant that novice kayakers take basic precautions to stay safe out on the water. She recommends four in particular.
4 Things to Remember About Kayaking in Canada
- It’s cold. Surprise, surprise. Read up on appropriate cold weather kayaking clothing and gear before venturing out.
- It’s remote. You don’t have to go far to find truly unspoiled wilderness in Canada. The lack of a human presence is problematic when you’re in trouble, however. If you plan to be out of cell phone range, bring a satellite phone, emergency radio, flares, or all three.
- It’s rustic. Three words: Bring a tent. Truly life-changing Canadian kayaking experiences demand rough edges — and a willingness to sleep under the stars.
- It’s not a year-round pursuit. In most of Canada, surface water freezes at some point during autumn and remains solid until spring. The kayaking season runs accordingly: June through October or November in the south, June or July through September further north. Sea kayaking is a different matter — if you can bear the cold, you can do that year-round in southern Canada.
6 Great Places to Kayak in Canada
Lori and David have kayaked more places than they can count. They’re especially fond of these six spots.
- Hecla Island, Manitoba: The Janesons’ home base happens to be a world-class kayaking destination. Nearby Black Island is a rarely visited treasure that hosts countless water birds: cormorants, herons, ospreys, and more.
- Lac Manicouagan, Quebec: The so-called “Eye of Quebec” is actually an ancient impact crater. The ring-shaped lake takes several days to paddle around, but the mountainous central island provides endlessly entertaining views.
- Devil’s Nostrils, Newfoundland: This distinctive sea cave complex is a remote but worthy destination for adventurous kayakers. If you’re up for a longer paddle out onto the open waters of the Atlantic, you can almost certainly get up close and personal with icebergs drifting down from Greenland.
- Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario: Quetico is a maze-like warren of small and medium-sized lakes and rivers, many of which go days or weeks without hosting a boat. The park nestles up against the equally pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, in the U.S. state of Minnesota.
- Manitoulin Island, Ontario: This gigantic island marks off Georgian Bay from the rest of Lake Huron. An extension of the waterlogged mainland, it’s has an unusual distinction: It’s the world’s only freshwater island that has a lake with an island with a lake with an island on it. Got that? Now find it!
- Lake Bras d’Or, Nova Scotia: This brackish lake is calmer than the ocean feeding it, and the views of the Cape Breton Highlands are nothing short of spectacular.
Where’s your next kayaking trip? Tell us in the comments section.