Reserves Chibougamau and Haute-Mauricle

CanadaQuebec08 Lower James Bay
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Allan Jacobs
Trip Date : 
Route Author: 
Stewart Coffin
Additional Route Information
122 km
9 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
2700 m
Longest Portage: 
800 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Put in at Lac Nicabau; Riv. Normandin; Lacs Finbar, Feuquieres, Robert & Gabriel; Riv. Opawica; Lac des Deux-Iles; Lac Nemenjiche; Riv. Nemenjiche; Lac Obatogamau [Ed. note: likely Lac la Dauversiere] and take-out at east end.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Chibougamau, Quebec, 1964

The party: Chuck Longsworth and Hans Carroll, Will Richards and Stew Coffin

Aug. 11. We placed Will's car at Obatogamau Lake [Ed. note: likely Lac La Dauversiere], which is reached by a side road off the main highway at mile 119, sign "Gagnon." Then we went to the lumber company depot on Nicabau Lake and obtained travel permits. Put in at Nicabau Lake and paddled southwest across the lake to find mouth of stream that drains Finbar Lake. The shape of the lake did not appear to match the map we were using, which was Chibougamau, Quebec, 1:250,000, 52G, Dept. of Mines and Technical Surveys. In all other respects, however, this map proved to be accurate. Possibly the trouble here was caused by raising the level of the lake. We were looking for a definite stream mouth, but instead entered a flooded swamp with no current. We never did see Riv. Normandin entering on the left, but by keeping to the right shore and continuing SW, we decided we must be on the correct stream. Looked in vain for a good campsite, and finally camped in a poor spot on the right bank in thickening weather. It rained hard during the night. For the remainder of the trip, the skies were overcast, with intermittent rain, mist and fog. The temperature remained between 44 and 46 degrees.

Aug. 12. We awoke to find puddles of water all around our tents. Paddled upstream to a 4-foot falls, which we portaged right 50 yards. Shortly came to an old dam and portaged right 100 yards. Our stream was generally narrow with little current. At one point we huddled in the rain, discussing whether to continue on via Finbar Lake or via Lac Rohault. Finally chose Finbar. (I have since talked with a man who has been via Rohault. He described the Lac Rohault to Nemenjiche Lake portage as being long and unpleasant. He did not know how the Lac Rohault to Lac Gabriel portage was, but it looks long on the map.) One mile beyond the junction, portaged left 50 yards around a rapid. In 2 more miles came into Finbar Lake. Camped on the north end of a prominent narrow bar at north end of lake.

Aug. 13. Did not break camp because it was raining so hard. To pass the time, paddled to south end of Finbar Lake and found good portage trail, not shown on map, running west out of the lake.

Aug. 14. Took said portage trail for ½ mile, then paddled through two small lakes and into Lac Feuquieres. Camped in a poor spot on the left bank at a small rapid at the outlet of Lac Feuquieres.

Aug. 15. Paddled through Lac Robert and ran a moderate rapid at the outlet. In one mile, portaged left 100 yards around a strong rapid and entered Lac Gabriel [Ed. note: I didn’t find a water connection between Lacs Robert and Gabriel]. Camped at a fair site on the north end of a narrow peninsula..

Aug. 16. Did not break camp because of steady rain.

Aug. 17. About 2 miles north of camp, saw a good campsite on the west bank, worth noting because good sites so few. In another mile came to the mouth of Riv. Cawcot. Paddled up it a short ways just to see if it was navigable. Seemed to be. Could hear rapids upstream. Continued up Lac Gabriel. Turning west toward the outlet, saw a prominent grave on the north bank. Entering the Opawica River, ran an easy rapid, then passed through an expansion called Lac des Deux-Iles. Then ran about a mile of moderate rapids, one mile of deadwater, a few more short rapids, and came to an 8-foot falls. Camped in the portage trail on the left.

Aug. 18. Our plan had been to go down to Lac Caopatina, over to Surprise Lake, up Roy River, and down Riv. Cawcot. But because of slow progress caused by rain, with no sign of change, decided to revise plans. Went back up the Opawica River to Lac des Deux-Iles, then turned northeast up a small stream and portaged 1/2 mile to a small lake that led to Nemenjiche Lake. Paddled around Nemenjiche Lake a while but didn’t find much of interest. (Wonder what we were expecting?) Entered the Nemenjiche River and in 2 miles camped on the left in a large clearing that looked much used.

Aug. 19. Continuing down the Nemenjiche River, portaged right 1/2 mile around falls. Ran some sharp rapids, made possible only because of high water. (Would have been hard work going upstream.) Finally reached Obatogamau Lake [Ed. note: again likely Lac La Dauversiere] and paddled to Will's car at an ice-house at the east end of the lake.

In summary, this was an easy route to canoe. The rapids were few, there were no large lakes, and the few portages were short and clear. But the country was not very interesting, and good campsites were scarce. Fishing was good. There seem to be a great variety of interconnecting canoe routes in this area, making possible a trip of almost any desired length and style. Camp Capitachouane runs trips through this area. One of their routes goes north to Chibougamau Lake, and another goes down the Opawica River. Above all, this trip will long be remembered as the one on which it rained and rained.

This is a much revised version of my original 1964 report.

Stewart Coffin, April 2008

Other transcribed reports now available:
Timber Lake, 1962
Dumoine River, 1962
Riv. du Chef, 1963
Kazan River, 1966
George River, 1967
Kipawa-Dumoine, 1979
Romaine River, 1980
Ste. Marguerite River, 1981
Ugjoktok River, 1982

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
32G 1, 7, 8 & 9
Special Comments: 

Editor’s note:

This is one of ten trip reports kindly provided by Stewart Coffin, author of Black Spruce Journals (Heron Press, 2007) which provides further information on these routes; contact information is given in the Comment attached to his George River report (Routes / Quebec / Northern).

Thanks to Stewart for the hard work in preparing a report from notes more than 40 years old and for sharing it with the CCR community. Thanks also to Wolverine for his initiative.

The “Trip Log or Diary” part of the report is Stewart’s as he supplied it, except that I have used current spelling for some proper names. The maps available then were far less detailed than present-day ones and were correspondingly unclear. The current map uses Lacs Obatogamau for a group of lakes, including Lac La Dauversiere.

The other parts of the report are my responsibility. The portages and their lengths came from the report. The distance travelled was estimated from Toporama maps; it includes the side trip west from Lac des Deux-Iles. Locations of the put-in and take-out points are uncertain, but they should be easy to find on the ground.

Allan Jacobs, CCR Routes Coordinator