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

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Photo Gallery

Video Version

Video Day 1
Video Day 2
Video Day 3
Video Day 4



Day 1 - Canoe Lake to Joe Lake

Canoe Lake Access Point. Algonquin Provincial ParkWe got up at 6 am and left the cottage by 6:36 am. After stops in Bancroft for coffee and at Opeongo Outfitters to get Mads a new paddle we arrived at Canoe Lake at 8:34 am. It was really quiet at Canoe Lake when we got there and we were the only folks in the permit office. There were a few other groups that showed up while we were loading up the canoe. For some reason it took us an hour to get loaded up and it was about 9:30 am before we were on the water.

Canoe Lake, Algonquin Provincial ParkI trolled a bottom bouncer with a gold plated Williams Wabler on the way up Canoe Lake but I didn't catch any fish. I did, however, pull in what looks like a almost a whole spool of lead core line along with a silver hammered Williams Wabler. Later on after we were north of Camp Wapomeo and the islands, I also pulled in about a 20" piece of bark. It felt like it could have been a fish, but no luck yet.

We were at the memorial to Tom Thompson which is on a point Tom Thomson Totem Pole - Canoe Lakethat sticks out from the north shore of Canoe Lake by about 10:30am. It's quite a climb up the hill to the cairn and the totem pole. There is a neat poem posted on the back of the totem pole along with a history of the pole. In doing some more reading after the trip, I found out that the site where the cairn is located was a favourite campsite of Tom's which is why his friends chose thatTom Thomson Cairn - Canoe Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park location for the cairn.

After leaving the cairn, it was only about 45 minutes of lazy paddling up to the portage to Joe Lake which we arrived at around 11:30am. As you leave Canoe Lake, you pass through the junction of Joe Creek and Potter Creek. As one sign of how busy this route can be, there is a sign post set in the middle of the creek to help folks choose the right branch.

Joe Lake and Potter Creek SignpostOnce you get to the portage from Canoe Lake to Joe Lake it is a really easy, flat and wide portage. While you do climb up from Canoe Lake to Joe Lake, it is nowhere near as big a climb as the one from Smoke Lake to Ragged Lake. By this time of day, the route was getting busy but there was still lots of room on the portage for folks to get by each other. Among the other trippers, we saw several camp groups going through. Composting Outhouse, Algonquin Provincial Park

As another clear sign of just how busy this portage can be, it features a state of the art composting toilet instead of an old fashioned outhouse or thunderbox.

After portaging our stuff across (including Madeline carrying the canoe! I was impressed even though it is a lot lighter than the cedar-canvas canoes that the camp kids were carrying!!) ) we took time for some pictures and to eat lunch. We were back on the water by about 12:30 pm and headed north up Joe Lake then Joe Lake, Algonquin Provincial Parkeast around the south end of Joe Island. The island sites were taken but we checked out a site on the east shore across from the island. It wasn't too impressive so we kept on going.

At this point, I actually had us heading south down the bay, thinking that we were already around the point and heading down the east arm of Joe Lake. We had lots of time, so it wasn't a big deal but it is a good reminder that even in Algonquin a 16 1/2" Smallmouth Bass - Joe Lake, Algonquin Provincial Parkcompass is a good thing to use. On the plus side, our little detour paid off with a 16 1/2" Smallmouth Bass for me. (Now I'm, thinking that I really should have weighed that 20 1/2" one that I caught on Crotch Lake back in July)

Once we got headed in the right direction, we found that most of the sites were occupied, which is what I had expected. The last 2 sites along the south shore were the only ones still open and we chose the last (eastern most) one on the south shore. Since Joe Joe Lake CampsiteLake is really narrow and it has a lot of campsites, we can see 3 or 4 other sites from our campsite.

We had camp set up and were cooking dinner by 5:30pm. Our first night dinner was steak, baked potatoes and corn. I need to learn to let the fire die down a bit before putting the steaks on because I've been burning them lately. We were washed up from supper by about 6:30pm and Madeline made herself an after dinner cup of hot chocolate.

The sky had cleared up while we had supper and it was bright and sunny now. (Had I mentioned that it had started raining as soon as I arrived at Canoe Lake with the Canoe Trip Rain Goddess?) With the clear sky, we headed out around 7pm to do a bit more fishing and see if we could find a beaver in the bay across the lake from us. Believe it or not, the idea actually worked and I got The Moon in a clear blue sky.some great video and some pictures of a beaver.

We were back at camp around 8pm as the sun was starting to set but still with time to make S'mores for dessert before it got too dark out. It's about 10 after 9pm now, there is a mist rising off the lake and it's almost dark out. I think it's time to finish packing up for the night and then head off to bed.


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