Ottawa River - Thorne to Mattawa

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Tore Buchanan
Trip Date : 
Fri, Aug 14, 2009
Additional Route Information
51 km
3 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Start from boat ramp below dam/bridge in Thorne on the Ontario Quebec border. Finnish at the Otto Holden dam 10km north of Mattawa.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

We (group of 8) did this trip in August 14-16th 2009. It turned out to be one of the few good weather weekends of that summer. We stayed the previous night in North Bay, and drove the 1 hour to Thorne down hwy 63. We rented canoes in Thorne and were on the water by 10:00am. The very first stretch of the river is swift and gets progressively slower. Hwy 63 follows alongside the river for the first 5km and then the river is surprisingly remote. We spotted several Bald eagles along the river. Campsites are limited due to the steep cliffs and large boulders. Our first camp site was about 16km from Thorne on the Ontario side of the river. There were two campsites on a low lying point sticking out into the river. WARNING-because the river is dam controlled the water levels fluctuate dramatically overnight. When we awoke in the morning we were very lucky to notice one of our canoes was drifting in the river 20ft form shore. Pull your gear up high and tie your canoe to a tree. We estimated the water rose about 3-4 feet overnight. The next day we had planned to paddle about 20 km, but as the day wore on we were unable to find any suitable sites, and had to paddle almost until dark before we camped at a nice site(?) at the mouth of Snake Creek on the Quebec side. We ended up paddling 16km that day. The next day we had an easy 9km paddle to the take-out at the dam. The river gets quite wide before the dam and could be a challenge in high winds. There is a 1km portage around the dam if you want to continue the trip to Mattawa. We were picked up by a shuttle van by our canoe rental company (The Algonquin Canoe Company) and driven back to our cars in Thorne. The fishing along this entire stretch of the river was very good, and we caught Walleye, Bass, Pike and Sauger. Over all this trip was scenic and easy, but the paddling was a little boring

Special Comments: 

This trip can be incorporated into a longer trip by beginning further upstream or continuing past the Otto Holden dam. As the river is hemmed in by dams, this section feels more like a long lake than a river. Most of the river is almost a kilometre wide, with high cliff faces on either bank. Either an Ontario or Quebec fishing licence allows you to fish on either side of the provincial border within the main body of the river.