Trees N Tundra: Clearwater Lake - Kuujjuaq

CanadaQuebec10 Ungava Bay
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Rob Mullen
Trip Date : 
August 11 - September 7, 2018
Additional Route Information
525 km
25 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
4345 m
Longest Portage: 
1000 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

There is daily Air Inuit service from Montreal to Umiujaq on Hudson Bay. From Umiujaq, you can paddle 50 km south to the Gullet and Lac Tasiujaq (Richmond Gulf), or be driven the short distance from the village to the top of Tasiujaq. Once on Lac Tasiujaq (formerly Richmond Gulf), one can follow A.P. Low's route to Clearwater Lake (Wiyashakimi) as we originally intended. An invite to spend a week as guests of the new Tursujuq National Park made that impractical (along with the idea of 23 portages in 80 km), so we flew on an Air Mont Laurier Otter from the head of Lac Tasiujaq (park staff were very helpful) to the north shore of Clearwater Lake, a few miles from the mouth of the Noonish River (not listed as such on most maps, but that is what Low called it). It is a short flight. 

Some gear rental may be available from the Park (link below). The James Bay Rd runs all the way to La Grande Airport from where one may also fly Air Inuit to Umiujaq. To start at Clearwater Lake, there is a road that splits off of the James Bay Rd and runs to a float plane base at km 257 also 

Air Inuit -

Tursujuq National Park -

Technical Guide: 

The Canoe Voyage

  • Canoe Crew: Steve Gorman, Stephen Loring, Rob Mullen
  • Flown from Lac Tasiujaq to Wiyashakimi on an Otter from Air Mont Laurier.
  • Wiyashakimi (Clearwater Lake) – Kuujjuaq
  • 325 miles (525 km) via
    • Wiyashakimi - Noonish River - Lacs des Loups Marin (Seal Lake) - Height of Land
    • HOL - Lac de Sem - Riviere aux Melezes (Larch River) - Riviere Koksoak – Kuujjuaq
  • August 10 – September 12 planned. August 11 – September 7 actual
  • Low water conditions made many rapids more difficult.
  • Frequent rapids, most runnable, a couple were lined and we had three short ledge portages and two short boulder portages (100 yards or less). One 500 M line/paddle on river right of R IV/V (see annotated maps; link below)
  • Portages on the Hudson Bay side of the HOL are all ‘rough’ (trail or markings faint if existing at all) except one that follows a very convenient caribou trail. River portages are all on open shore across rocks. Some could be unnecessary and/or unavailable with slightly higher water.
  • Shore time for exploration and artwork curtailed by weather, insects, ground conditions (heavy brush), and lack of consensus.
  • Weather generally cool and wet. No major storms and only one night of frost.
  • Insects often intense. Bugshirt and light gloves essential.
  • Wildlife goals were met and surpassed. Rare and endangered Freshwater Seals of Lacs des Loups Marin were found easily, and the Leaf River herd caribou made a spectacular appearance. In addition, we encountered bears, wolves, otter, beavers, loons, and eagles.
  • No swampings, no serious injuries. 
  • Reached Kuujjuaq on September 7.  
  • Returned on First Air to Montreal on September 9. Excellent flight with superb service.
Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 
Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
Topo Maps (1:250,000): 
Other Maps: 
Suggested Resource Material: