Thursday, October 27, 2016

Running the Rouge


Date: October 22, 2016
Launch Point: Rouge Beach
Destination: Until we run out of water or steam.
Crew: Frank Lemire, Michael Mitchener & William Self
Conditions: COLD, windy, dark, early, but ultimately beautiful.
Sightings: Tail-end of Friday partiers, cops, fishermen, geese, trains, and a complete lack of other canoes or boats.

Sunrise on the Rouge 

First Light 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Humber Humbled [Humber River]

We're All in the Same Boat

Date: September 4, 2016
Launch Point: Sunnyside Beach
Destination: Until we run out of water
Crew: Michael Mitchener & William Self
Conditions: Calm, quiet with a bit of mist on the water.
Sightings:Streetcars, subways, cars, and tons of trees and quiet strips of water.

Humber River, Toronto | Ontario

.Humber Humbled

Humber River, Toronto | Ontario

Under the Bridge

Humber River, Toronto | Ontario

Humber River, Toronto | Ontario

Humber River, Toronto | Ontario

Humber River, Toronto | Ontario

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Shipping Channel [Portlands]

Date: July 3, 2016
Launch Point: Portlands Shipping Channel
Destination: Turning Basin
Crew: Frank Lemire, Michael Mitchener & William Self
Conditions: Perfect!
Sightings:The Hearn and an amazing strip of water with much potential.


Strauss Trunnion 



Saturday, June 18, 2016

Canoe Believe It [Rouge River]

Date: June 18, 2016
Launch Point: Rouge Beach
Destination: Highway 401
Crew: Frank Lemire, Michael Mitchener & William Self
Conditions: Perfect!
Sightings:Two angry carp; several canoeists; gaggles of paparazzi; swag bags galore; a few humorous volunteers; an unknown number of bodyguards, secret police and RCMP; several Trudeaus; and one beautiful (besides Nessie of course) canoe.

Nessie Lives!
After a previously enjoyable visit to the Rouge, we signed up for this year's Paddle the Rouge event arriving at Rouge Beach around 8 am on a hot Saturday morning.  After unloading Nessie and gear, we luckily captured one of the last parking spots in the park versus facing a shuttle back from the Rouge Hill Go Train station.  All three of us were looking forward to heading up the Rouge River, all in the name of a good cause.

Unbeknownst to us when we signed up, the federal government was planning on making an announcement about establishing an urban park at the Rouge during the event.  We heard via Twitter on the day before that the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, would be making an appearance.  While we thought this might turn the paddle into a bit of media circus, the event was well organized and while there were a few extra visible security arrangements (e.g. RCMP ATVs), everything seemed relatively calm otherwise.

Urban Beach


It was a glorious, hot, sunny day, and we had a great paddle up the river to the 401.  This is always a surreal part of the trip with the massive highway infrastructure straddling the river and looming overhead, with fellow canoeists parked on the beach taking a break before heading back down the river.  You can likely go further with some portaging (which we'll have to check out someday) but it becomes tougher to paddle due to the shallow water so we too turned around.

Paddle Paparazzi

Arriving back at the beach, we noticed a flurry of media types heading to the beach and assumed the PM had arrived and was making his way to the water.  As we passed by the registration area, we spotted a beautiful wooden canoe with Justin Trudeau, his wife and daughter heading towards to the main media "scrum" for a pass-by.  We hung back to see what was what and in a short time, the PM was heading back our way for a trip up the river.  He ended up passing our canoe within about 20' with Justin and Sophie exchanging good morning's with us (as canoeists tend to do).  They were all smiles and seemingly enjoying the paddle with very little apparent security around them.  We were impressed with how relaxed and approachable the PM was.

Train Spotting

Having our brush with fame, we headed back to the beach, stretched, and proceeded to pack up.  There was about a 5 minute delay picking up the car to load up the canoe while waiting for the PM's motorcade to leave but other than that minor inconvenience, having the PM join in only added to the event.

In the Weeds

All in all, a great day, PERFECT weather, awesome swag, impressive coordination by the Wildlands League, and a cool thing to hang with Justin and his family. Thanks to the Wildlands League for arranging the day, the Rouge is definitely something worth preserving and we hope to get back for a fall paddle if not sooner.

Coincidentally, one of my favourite canoe quotes is from another Trudeau:

What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau


Rouge Rush Hour

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Birds [Leslie Spit]

Sunrise Paddle

Date: May 29, 2016
Launch Point: Cherry Beach
Destination: Leslie Spit
Crew: Michael Mitchener & William Self
Conditions: Smooth sailing
Sightings: 10,000 #$@&! Cormorants

We headed out for Nessie's inaugural run launching from Cherry Beach.  Crossing the harbour, we explored the Leslie Spit where it appears that the cormorant bird colony is clearly getting out of hand.  

This trip, Frank Lemire was with us in spirit, although I think he might have been much happier on a bigger 'canoe' that serves you drinks and offers all-day shuffleboard.

T'was a great morning to be on the lake  followed by a tasty brunch at OK OK with our friend Nikolai in from Buffalo for the US Memorial Day weekend.  


Monday, August 24, 2015

Life of Dudley [Killbear]

Life of Dudley

Date: August 9-17, 2015
Launch Point: Killbear Provincial Campground
Destination: Anywhere
Crew: Michael Mitchener & Dudley
Conditions: Summer

Nessie Northbound

I spent about a week at Killbear this year and had Nessie on the water a few times.  While Georgian Bay can be fast and rough, most paddles were calm with relative smooth waters (at least the times I choose to canoe).  I met some canoers who had been out the day before and had had troubles getting back to our bay due to strong winds.  At one point they were being pushed against the rocks and used their paddles to keep the canoe safe.  With this in mind, I kept an eye on the weather and picked my times.  

Red Squall

While Dudley isn't a big fan of canoeing, he was out and about for a few rides and reluctantly enjoyed himself although his preferred position is tucked between my legs when on the water. 

Drowned Leaf

Killbear is beautiful, you should go there.  Cheers.

A Bug's Life


Sunday, August 2, 2015

An Urban Urban Voyage (Port Lands Ship Channel]

William Self

Date: August 2, 2015
Time: ~5:30 AM to ~8:00 AM
Launch Point: Trusty Cherry Beach
Destination: Port Lands Ship Channel
Crew: Michael Mitchener & William Self
Conditions: Light and variable winds with smooth seas in a very protected channel. 
Sightings: 1 sleek mink, many ducks, a haunted boat, 3 freighters, a SWAT team, 2 power plants, many dog walkers and dogs (of course), 1 star in the making, a couple on a board, and a "you shall not pass" drawbridge.

William Self

After reading about the latest plans for the Port Lands including the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project, we thought we'd explore the before view of Port Lands waterways before they gentrify the joint.  This also seemed like a true urban voyage and different from some of our more nature-oriented past trips around the Spit and Toronto Islands.  

Michael Mitchener 

Initially we thought we'd put Nessie into the water off Commissioners near Carlaw but realized that would involve a 5 foot drop into the water and wouldn't bode well for our camera equipment (or Nessie).  The rowing club near this location has a dock in the water but it's locked up behind a fence.  Not put off, we headed to our trusty launch location, Cherry Beach.

Metis Sunrise
Michael Mitchener

The moon was full and still prominent in the sky as we put Nessie into the calm water about 5:30.  We took a few pictures and jumped into the canoe and headed out.  It was another beautiful morning, very calm and quiet as we rounded the point and saw our first view of the city.   

Reflecting Metis
Michael Mitchener

Passing by the old Rochester Ferry dock, we noticed a large group of people dressed in black gathered on the edge of the pier.  I'm guessing they were police officers involved in some sort of training exercise.  Thankfully they took little notice of us as we passed by.

William Self

Next on the route was two large docked freighters.  Nothing makes you feel smaller than passing one of these towering bad boys in a 15 foot canoe.  They are freakin' huge and must extend 8-10 stories above the water.  They didn't seem to be going anywhere so we passed by fairly close in awe. 

William Self
After that we headed towards the Cherry Street drawbridge noticing a sign on the bridge that stated:

Commercial vessels only
Small craft access by prior
arrangements only.... 416-462-1260
Toronto Port Authority

We quickly evaluated our options as a non-commerical vessel with no appointment, and put our heads and paddles down and went for it.  Luckily, we entered the channel unchallenged.  

William Self

The ship channel is amazing.  It's huge, sheltered and full of potential.  We were shocked how much distance we had covered once we reached the turning basin and looked back to the drawbridge.  It must have been quite the feat of engineering to build the channel initially complete with turning basin.  

Power Trip
Michael Mitchener 

Today, there are numerous industrial sites, power plants, and salt piles which make for interesting photo subjects.

Hydro Two
Michael Mitchener 

Once we reached the turning basin, we turned but to be honest, we had lots of room to maneuver.  I'm not sure what they were thinking when they built the basin (obviously not Nessie). 

Michael Mitchener

Bridge Unmanned
Michael Mitchener 

Heading back to Cherry Beach, we hoisted Nessie onto the car, and headed to the Mercury Espresso Bar on Queen Street for a couple cortados and scones on the patio.

Metis Toronto
Michael Mitchener 

It was great to get out to a new spot for a change of scenery and a new perspective on the Port Lands.   

William Self