Derek has been actively involved in paddle sports for over 20 years, dating back to when he was a kid. Some of his favourite trips include canoeing as a kid in many different Provincial Parks across Southern Ontario. He has since moved to Vancouver, British Columbia but is actively involved in paddle boarding and kayaking throughout Southern BC. He currently works on his website Floating Authority to bring his passion of paddling and advice to those who seek it.
Canoeing is one of Ontario’s favourite past times. It represents the sense of freedom of being in the great outdoors and going back to a simpler time, where the only transportation was a canoe to get from lake to lake. Of course times have progressed since then but the fact remains that canoeing is still one of the best ways to see beautiful natural Ontario.
Canoeing was a big deal to me as a kid. It represented getting away from the city and the norm and escaping to the back country with nothing more than good company, paddles and fishing gear. Perhaps the thing that I liked most is that you never knew what was going to happen. A simple canoeing trip can turn into an experience that you will never forget in your lifetime. I know I have had a few of those ranging from catching lots of bass and pike to hiding out in a cave waiting for a fast approaching lightning storm to pass while almost losing our canoe in the process.
I have since moved to Canada`s west coast and enjoy more kayaking and paddle board related activities that suit the west coast terrain a bit better but canoeing in Ontario will always stay dear to my heart.
If you are looking to visit Ontario for more than a week and see all the highlights from city life to back country take a look at the Canadian Canoe Route Holiday . It travels from Toronto to a variety of different lodges that have paddle specific activities for everyone to enjoy.
My favourite places to canoe in Ontario
I put together a list of the best canoeing locations in Ontario so that you don’t have to rack your brain trying to choose one from the countless canoe routes of Ontario’s Provincial Parks.
1. Algonquin Provincial Park
The Biggest Provincial Park also provides a lot of different routes for a lot of paddlers of different skill levels to jump in and take the paddle. At 7,653 square Kilometers you can bet there’s a lot of lakes and rivers to see. The most popular include the easier to paddle Canoe Lake, Misty Lake, and the Ragged Lake Loop. If you are well versed in canoeing and want a bit of a challenge you can paddle Petawawa River and the Meanest link which spans a distance of 68 kilometers. Algonquin is so big that it would take you at least a few weeks to cover all the highlighted paddling areas. There is also lots of prime fishing, hiking and camping locations available throughout the park as well making it an outdoor hot spot for any adventurer.
2. Killarney Provincial Park
Killarney Provincial Park is over 645 square kilometres and is home to over 50 different crystal clear picturesque lakes. While most of these lakes have a relatively easy difficulty rating there are 11 different canoe routes you can take that can span anywhere from a simple day paddling trip to multiple days. It’s deep crystal clear waters make it a favourite for many paddlers alike. Bell and David Lakes are favourites among tourists. Hint: this would also be a great spot to bring a paddle board for the day just because you will be able to see more down below!
3. The Spanish River Provincial Park
For those who can paddle at an intermediate level the Spanish River offers lots of opportunity to tackle Swifts as it features Class I, II, III Rivers for those who want to tackle them. At Spanish River there are a bunch of different overnight tours available that range from 2- 10 days. There is also paddling for more inexperienced individuals at Biscotti Lake should you want to go island hopping.
4. Pinery Provincial Park
This is a personal favourite of mine and a place where many of my canoeing memories were made. Pinery is part of a fragile ecosystem that has everything from bending rivers, to giant sandy dunes. For Canoeing enthusiasts you can paddle along Old Ausable Channel and fish off of the canoe. We did this and on our way back we had the rod just sitting by itself in the canoe and we ended up catching (and releasing) a good sized Northern Pike simply by chance!
5. Thousand Islands National Park
Located on the eastern end of Lake Ontario, you’ll paddle around the Kingston Islands, Cedar and Milton. You can get to the beaches on Wolfe Island, when the winds are light. This is a great trip to take that will last a full day. It’s a great trip for those who want to make a day of it.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to canoeing in Ontario. With 250,000 lakes located in Ontario the options are limitless. One thing I know for sure is that Ontario is a place that holds a lot of fond memories for me and my family as I firmly believe it is the canoe haven of the world.