Portaging the Canoe - A Rite of Passage - Algonquin Provincial Park

Joe Lake Canoe Trip

Algonquin Provincial Park

August 9 - 12, 2011

Tom Thompson Memorial - Canoe Lake - Algonquin Provincial Park

Canoe Trip Reports

Joe Lake

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Joe Lake Campsite, Algonquin Provincial ParkOur canoe trip to Joe Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park started out from the Canoe Lake access point. What could possibly have convinced us to start a trip from Canoe Lake - probably the busiest access point anywhere in Algonquin - in the middle of August? The peak of tourist and canoeing season??

As usual, we wanted the chance to explore an area that was new to us, to do a bit of fishing, enjoy a campfire or 2 and spend some quality father-daughter time together. However, if that was all that we were after, then there were still plenty of other, much quieter destinations that we could have chosen. Our added goal for this trip was to explore a part of Algonquin where Tom Thomson had spent time living and painting. Madeline had made the request back in the spring when were starting to plan our summer trips and while Tom Thomson travelled and painted through most of Algonquin Provincial Park, he spent much of his time living, fishing and painting on and around Canoe Lake. Canoe Lake was also where Tom Thomson drowned on July 8th, 1917 leaving behind a mystery that fascinates people to this day. Indeed the mystery of Tom's death has contributed, perhaps, almost as much to his fame as his paintings have.

By starting our trip from Canoe Lake, we would have the chance to visit the memorial erected in Tom Thomson's memory. This memorial was built by his friends on Canoe Lake the year that he died. With a bit of research we also hoped to visit some specific sites where Tom had painted, with perhaps the easiest location being just downstream from the Tea Lake Dam. As a final piece of our Tom Thomson pilgrimage we would be day tripping Joe Lake - Algonquin Provincial Park - Route Mapfrom Joe Lake up to Tom Thomson Lake, which was previously known as Black Bear or Bear Lake before being renamed to Tom Thomson Lake.

In planning this trip, we gave a lot of thought to making it a loop trip for change. It certainly is possible to travel a loop from Canoe Lake up through Tom Thomson Lake and Sunbeam Lake to Burnt Island Lake and then back through the Joe lakes (Joe Lake, Little Joe Lake, Baby Joe Lake and Lost Joe Lake) but in the end we decided to stick with a base camp on Joe Lake. This would let us spend less time packing, unpacking and portaging and give us more time to explore, relax and just enjoy. In order to make the trip a little quieter, even though we were going in the middle of August, we chose a Tuesday to Friday schedule hoping Joe Lake - Ontario Mapthat at least a few folks would be forced to stay home and work while we enjoyed a bit of wilderness.


Canoe Lake is located just north of Highway 60 just over 14km from the west park Boundary. The access road to Canoe Lake is literally directly across the highway from teh access road to Smoke Lake where we started our Ragged Lake canoe trip from last year. If you are driving from Toronto, you will Portage Store - Canoe Lake - Algonquin Provincical Parkcome north up Highway 400 to Barrie and then take Highway 11 north to Huntsville before heading east on Highway 60 to Algonquin. If you don't have the luxury of a car, then Canoe Lake is also one of the stops for the Park Bus that runs from Toronto to both Algonquin Provincial Park and Killarney Provincial Park. Add in the full service Portage Store outfitters and it's no wonder that Canoe Lake is such a popular and busy access point for interior canoe trips.



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