Partridge River 2

CanadaOntarioJames Bay south
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trevor Almas
Trip Date : 
Thu, May 27, 2010
Additional Route Information
300 km
12 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
1250 m
Longest Portage: 
600 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Not applicable
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

The group drove north from Cochrane along highway 652 to arrive at upper Kesagami Lake. We travelled from Upper Kesagami Lake along the Kesagami River to arrive at Kesagami Lake. There is a short 400m maintained portage from Kesagami Lake to Partridge Lake. From Partridge Lake we travelled along the Partridge River to James Bay, then from the mouth of the partridge river to Moosonee, along James Bay.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Day Log

May 27

Rained on Hwy 652 on way to put in, heavy at times. Group A (writer of route descriptions group) set out from the Upper Kesagami first and continued later on into the afternoon to separate the groups. Upper Kesagami River shallow and stream like. Water levels in the lake visibly down. We camped beside a bridge on a dirt road. First and only encounter with a bear was walking up the road probably 60m away before we alerted him of our presence. The campsite could be used as a put in if you can find the road. Would shave about 3 hours of paddling.

May 28

Paddled into a north wind from the morning. On one of the smaller lakes caught 2 pike around 2-3 lbs each. Bugs were surprisingly good for the area. Went by what looked like an abandoned cabin on one of the unnamed lakes. Average depth was around 2 feet, very windy as well. Pulled over 15+ beaver dams today. Campsite was a bush crash, large area for kitchen tent but not much else.

May 29

Saw the first creek today running into Kesagami Rjkiver. Saw some long stretches of rapids that would have been awesome had we had the water. Unfortunately we did not so we encountered many a carry over and drags across rocks. Saw a groundhog hanging out on the side of the river today. Ran into some swifts with actual eddies. Found out that the dehydrated beef was not that great, and wouldn’t suggest using it on another trip. One member suffering from bug bites, face about twice the size as normal.

May 30

Paddled into what looked like a delta today with quite a few rivers flowing into it. River widened and straightened, into what looked like a lake. Many fossilized rocks along this stretch. Had to pull over a sandbar at one point for around 50m. Passed a fly in cabin today that had been recently used, possible evac spot.

May 31

Grinded down a set of rapids (054800mE, 5551500mN), shortly thereafter was a shoot which was scouted and ran. In high water the rock to river left may not prove as much of a hazard as it did with us. Lunched at a used campsite with benches and some garbage. Looked like people came up the river from Kesagami Lake. Even still, with the bush crashes that we had been having it was an easy 10/10. Camped on a beach covered in soapstone.

June 1

Beautiful sunrise over the lake, foreshadowed what was to come. Managed to travel from the campsite to the portage to Partridge Lake before 1400, in favorable conditions the paddle across from big island took the group 1½ hours. We had a pretty severe thunderstorm roll through right around 1700. Found out that group B had to evacuate a hypothermic member and was down a canoe and 2 group members. Campsite was opened up by the owner of True North Air Service who happened to stop by to repair a boat. Friendly guy, told us that the former owner of the company was the mean guy living on partridge lake, mentioned in a previous trip log. Asked us a few questions and was on his way. He also maintains the portage, if encountered a hearty thanks is advised.

June 2

Finished the portage to Partridge Lake in ½ hour. Portage is lined with wood chips, so guests from True North Air Service can also fish on Kesagami Lake. The portage itself is around 100M south of where the boats were moored at the time of writing. The beginning of Partridge River was very shallow and rocky. The warm temperatures allowed us to wade, which made the going quicker. Saw a large pike in Richards Lake, probably around 10 lbs if not more. After the lakes the Partridge River was very windy at the beginning for around 5km, up until the first otter slide. This is something that has not been previously mentioned, the beginning of the river offers these incredibly fun (in low water) otter slides. The narrow walls really give a sense of speed. The majority of the day was spent running small shoots, cutting down strainers and crushing beaver dams. Some of these shoots did need to be lined, and in higher water the strainers lining the banks could be of concern. Camped beside a set of falls. There is a 150m portage trail river right of the falls. The campsite was open, if not a little damp and buggy.

June 3

Continued with otter sides and scraping along the bottom of the river. The river Gradually widened throughout the day, and along with this came a faster pace feel of the rapids. Lunched above a decent chute that needed to be lined along river right. Hatch marks on the map along this area represent major elevation changes/ obstacles (i.e. chutes and falls) that may need to be portaged. There are a far greater number of swifts and class 1-2 rapids than represented on the maps. At 0546600mE, 5610300mN there are falls that required a pull over along river right. There is a small eddy above the falls that can be used as a takeout point. As well this area lacks any large trees, and appears to have been victim to a forest fire. Grassy sand banks and excellent speckled trout fishing can be found in this area. The best bait for this was smoked bacon, our group caught three ten inch fish that were eaten for supper, along with the bacon.

June 4

Hit Kanototik Rapids around noon. With water levels we had about 5 KM of class 2+ technical rapids, with one stretch near the bottom that was class three. The group eddy hopped our way to the bottom, with no real upsets. In the other group, however: 2 boats were wrapped, 2 boats swamped and one of these boats went through a strainer. By the end they ended up lining well over half of the rapids. The river at this point widens, with very steep sides and many old growth trees in the area. The rapids became more spaced out after this point, and we camped above a large waterfall. The area was quite nice, with an old hunt cabin farther up in the bush. There is a portage trail on river right, around 150m.

June 5

River continued with that northern boreal shield feel, with many sets of beautiful looking, if not unrunnable rapids. After Kanototik Rapids, each set of rapid becomes a lot more spaced out, as well as more technically challenging. We lunched above one set that was an easy class three, and took the line to river left. Our group ran it, the other group lined/portaged, and ended up having one canoe swamp while lining. This was also the day where we had to decide what channel was going to be taken for Black Bear Island. This debate lasted roughly 2 hours before we decided on the right channel. There is an unrunnable fall at the beginning of this, with many smaller sets of technical rapids below. As well above the falls, there is approximately 150m of whitewater leading up to it. The group ended up camping below the falls, around 300m downstream. There is no clear portage trail that we could find. A few of us ended up portaging too far down the river and needed to track the boats back up. It might be advantageous to do a quick portage around the falls and then line/run the boats down.

June 6

Travelled a total of 53 KM today to make up lost time from low water levels. Rapids continued spaced out, some were runnable, some needed to be portaged. The choice depends largely on skill level and confidence. The rapids were done by around 11, and the river continued to wind its way around black bear island. We lunched below the three hatchmarks at 0532750mE 5541200mN, which turned out to be nothing more than around 150m of very steep swifts. These sets of swifts were the last encountered. The river simply picks up speed and size closer to James Bay. The right channel turned into a really cool white/black cedar forest, with a lot of overhanging cedars. We camped on the side of a river in a grassy area.

June 7

We set out again and took mostly right channels down to James Bay. The area before James Bay is a horrible tag alder swamp, with many wrong turns that simply fizzle out or run into beaver dams. There is an easy way through this, and at no point did our group have to get out of our canoes. Even with us attempting to flag a trail, the other group did try some drags through areas that were shallower, but in the end they ended up turning around and eventually found their way out. We arrived at James Bay paddling into a north wind. The tide was going out just as we got there, which forced us to walk our canoes 500m out through the 5 inches of water. Tide charts are vital to completing this area, and timing is of the utmost importance. Without the tide you would be looking at an extremely long and cold drag to get to the deeper water. As it sat, our group managed to get to James Bay just as the tide was leaving. We paddled around 3 KM out into James Bay away from the shore in order to stay in the deeper water. We lunched on Shipsand Islands as the sun came out and we had our first campfire of the trip to warm up. We set up a sail and moved our six canoes an average of 3 km/h south up the mouth of the Moose River o get to our campsite for the night. The other group got stuck at the mouth due to low tides, and ended up having to wait for the tide to come back in. They called the OPP at some point during the night (they made camp at 12) and the OPP seemed rather unequipped and unwilling to deal with them, as the group didn’t want to call their situation an emergency. There group did eventually manage to make camp, around where we lunched.

June 8

On the water at 9, our latest start to the day. Had a casual paddle up the Moose River, and it seemed to coincide with the tide going in. Moosonee is an interesting town, and although I was extremely uncomfortable when we first got there, I soon realized that people were generally friendly, and much of the fears I had were unfounded. The portage to the train station is around 1KM, and it would almost seem as if the people in the town are used to seeing bobbing canoe heads walking down their streets. the train ride back to Cochrane took about 6 hours.

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
Map Used: Upper Kesagami Lake to Kesagami Lake via Kesagami River North Burnbush lake: 42 H/9 Lawagamu Lake: 42H/16 Ministik Lake: 42I/1 Partridge lake/Partridge River to Moosonee Kesagami Lake: 42I/8 Glaister lake: 42I/9 Marberg lake:42I/16 Meengan Creek: 42I/15 Bushy Island: 42P/2 Thyret Lake:42P/1 Ship Sands Island:42P/8 Moosonee: 42P/7 <br />
Topo Maps (1:250,000): 
Other Maps: 
Special Comments: 


Our group of twenty set out on May 26th 2010. The group of twenty was divided into two groups of ten, with seven students in each group along with two clients and one professor. The water level at this time was untypically low, the early thaw and little snowmelt led to summer time water levels during the spring. Many of the obstacles that we encountered could probably be avoided by running the river during higher water. The trip took us 14 days with the water levels encountered and the larger groups. The many beaver dams that set us back would not have been obstacles in higher water.


The weather that we encountered during the trip was sporadic at best. Days that started out with frost and the threatening of rain turned out to be 25+ during the day, and those that started out with a warm morning tended to stay at that temperature for the rest of the day (warm being around 7* centigrade). Our average High was 16 degrees centigrade and the average low was 6 degrees. We had 7 days without rain. Out of the days that had rain, two of them were moderate to heavy with thunder, the rest being light drizzle. The only fog encountered was while crossing Kesagami Lake and Newnham Bay, and usually cleared by afternoon. At times the weather was quite unpredictable, the two groups were separated by about 5 hours, and while crossing Kesagami lake to get to Partridge lake, group A encountered little if nothing by the way of unfavorable conditions; whereas group B paddled through strong winds, stronger rain and fork lightning.


The group used outfitted canoes rented from Laurentian University. They are older boats that were used for river trips only. They had many obvious signs of wear on them, and more than one ended up leaking at some point on the trip. Tent groups were arranged pre-trip, and each of the two groups had one large communal/dining tent that offered adequate protection from bugs/rain. For cooking, both groups had one large 2 burner Coleman stove and one 20lb. propane tank. For backup cooking we were carrying the battery operated vital stove from Sol Huma. The paddles that we were using were cheap blue and yellow whitewater paddles. Although needed for the whitewater sections, I would advise to also bring a flatwater paddle, as more than one person ended up with wrist cramps/numbness by the end of the trip.


We had talked in the planning stages of our trip about what type of kitchen to use. We decided upon a pantry style of kitchen outlined in NOLS Cookery which can be found on the NOLS website as well as In this system we brought with us a kitchen pantry instead of using a daily menu. The result was 1.75 lbs per person per day, with a total weight of 450lbs for all 20 of us. The NOLS Cookery book outlines what should be brought from all food categories, and includes a large cook-book section for breakfast, lunch, dinner etc. We did supplement the list with some of our own additions, such as wraps and other snacks. The kitchen system was a welcome change to having outlined meals pre-bagged and allowed for a lot of creativity to be had at meal time. However, this menu’s successfulness is directly related to how much joy one can receive from cooking.

Group Skill level:

Before the trip set out, all the students became accustomed to dealing with whitewater. Each of the students had gone through WRT 1 as well as Moving water 1 two weeks prior to the expedition. We all had the knowledge base that was at these levels, however some members of the group had greater experience whether it be on personal trips or with summer jobs as whitewater rafting guides.


May 27
0550727mE, 5504932mN – Camp - on road, also possible put in [7/10]
5525000mE, 5501500mN – Put in [5/10]
5516000mE, 5502300mN – Cabin

May 28
0542221mE, 5516429mN – Camp - semi bush crash - [4/10]
0546900mE, 5510400mN – lunch, possible camp [3/10]

May 29
0546630mE, 5529800mN – Camp [3/10]

May 30
0549596mE, 5532999mN – Cabin
0554461mE, 5540116mN – Camp (bush crash lots of deadfall) [2/10]

May 31
0555550mE, 5557300mN – Lunch on fishing campsite (tables and benches) [10/10]
0557802mE, 5571712mN – Camp - bush crash, no bugs! [4.5/10]

June 1
0549632mE, 5581791mN – Camp -beach, few bugs [5/10]

June 2
0550614mE, 5596321mN – Possible camp, nice grassy area
0550103mE, 5599569mN – Camp – overlooking falls, bad black fly’s [9/10]

June 3
0545418mE, 5611736mN – Camp – bush crash, speckled trout, grass [7/10]

June 4
0539000mE, 5610900mN – Lunch – side of kanototik
0538835mE, 5620026mN – camp – on top of large falls collapsed cabin in area [8/10]

June 5
0539000mE, 5610900mN –Lunch – nice rapids, possible camp, probably class 3 river right
0541068mE, 5630868mN – Camp –waterfalls + portage [9/10]

June 6
0532759mE, 5641603mN – Lunch – Side of river after 100m rapids
0544047mE, 5672099mN – camp – side of bank, sandy [6/10]

June 7
0537856mE, 5686899mN – Camp – sand, on Shipsands Island [7/10]