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 4 - Joe Lake to Canoe Lake

Packed up and ready to leaveWe got up around 8:30am and Madeline started packing up the tent while I got breakfast ready and started packing up the tarps. I had actually thought about leaving the big tarp behind this trip, but fortunately Madeline (you know - the Canoe Tripping Rain Goddess) had talked me into taking it. As it was we were having a little trouble adjusting to the strange colour of the sky. It had been mostly gray for the last 3 days and we weren't sure we could trust this funny blue colour that we were seeing this morning.Joe Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park

After our breakfast of oatmeal and pop tarts we finished packing up. Despite the blue sky the tent was still pretty wet and we'll have to dry it out at home. By 11am we were on the water and heading west on Joe Lake trolling our bottom bouncers and Williams Wablers.

With the clear blue sky this morning there was a bit more of a wind coming from the west but it wasn't too strong yet. By Gibraltar Point, Joe Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park11:45am we had arrived at Gibraltar Point and tied up at the eastern campsite so that we could hike up to the look out high up between Joe Lake and Teepee Lake.

The trail to the lookout actually starts from the site closest to the point, so we ended up bushwhacking a bit but we just kept Lookout at Gibraltar Point - Joe Lakeheading up hill and eventually go to the look out. From the top of this cliff, you have a great view out over Teepee Lake and Joe Lake. Off to the south you can even see a piece of Canoe Lake. This would probably be a great spot to come back to in the fall to see the fall colours spread over the hills to the west.

After our little hike, we paddled south through the western gap past Joe Island. In the bay just before the road bridge we saw an Adult Loon feeding a half grown chickadult loon with a chick. The adult was catching fish to feed the chick who is probably about half grown. The chick was starting to dive too and sometimes the parent would come up with a fish while the chick was underwater. Then the parent would call for the chick until it popped up and hurried over to grab its meal. Bridge across the narrows at the south end of Joe Lake

Even having taken time out for our hike and to watch the loons we were still back at the portage to Canoe Lake by 12:45pm. Madeline insisted that it was her turn to carry the canoe again but we still managed to get everything across in 2 trips and by quarter after 1pm we were sitting down and eating lunch.

While we were eating lunch, a canoe came up with 3 univeristy aged women in it. They were on a guided tour but were a little Looking south on Joe Creek towards Canoe Lakebehind the group which was nowhere in site at this point. It was bad enough that the guide hadn't been keeping track of the last canoe but what really stuck out was that they didn't have any idea where they were headed or what the route was. The girls did have a good set of instructions on what to expect, talking about portaging and using the thunderbox. It even included a schedule for each day and the approximate distance Paddling down Joe Creek to Canoe Lakethey would be paddling but NOWHERE did it mention the names of any lakes! In the end it turned out that the girls were only about 5 minutes behind the group and that the guide had just taken the group a bit further up the creek to skip part of the portage. Even so, our new friends found their group The smallest Smallmouth Bass with the biggest appetiteby walking up the portage, not because the guide came back to look for them.

We were back on the water and headed out to Canoe Lake by quarter to 2pm. We trolled our Rapala's most of the way down the creek and today it was my turn to catch our only fish - a whopping 5" Smallmouth Bass.

As we headed south down Canoe Lake, I could now clearly see that Wapomeo Island with the girls camp was separate from the mainland. On our way up Tom Thomson Totem Pole - Canoe Lake - Algonquin Provincial ParkCanoe Lake on Tuesday we had come up between Gilmour Island and Cook Island. From the angle, the camp had looked like it was on a point of land rather than being on an island.

We stopped to take another look at the cairn to Tom Thomson around 2:30pm before continuing south past the west side of Wapomeo Island. Take out at Canoe Lake


We had thought about paddling down Tea Lake to the dam but as we got closer to the take out at Canoe Lake, the easier it was to decide to be lazy and drive over to the dam instead. So, even though it was just a little after 3pm, we continued on down Canoe lake to the take out and by 3:30pm we were loading up the truck.

Tea Lake Dam

Oxtongue River portage around the Tea Lake DamOur interest in seeing Tea Lake dam was part of our quest to explore the area that Tom Thomson had lived and painted in. Before the trip we had looked at Tom Thomson paintings to see if there were specific spots that we could visit on our trip. We found a painting of Smoke Lake and another of Canoe Lake. There were also paintings of Mowat Lodge, which is long gone, and a couple Tea Lake Dam Plaqueof paintings of the gorges along the Petwawa River, but the only paintings that we found that we could easily place today were a couple of paintings of the Tea Lake dam.


After loading up the truck and getting into our nice clean "going home" clothes, we drove on over to the Tea Lake dam picnic area Tea Lake Dam from Downstreamto take some more pictures. Now the current dam was built in 1964 so the scene certainly isn't the same as it was in 1915 when Tom Thomson painted it, but it is about as close as we could get to it almost a hundred years later. While we were there we took advantage of the low water in the Oxtongue River to wade across the Oxtongue River and take some pictures for the north side.


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