Whitefish Falls to Killarney

CanadaOntarioGeorgian Bay coast
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
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Additional Route Information
40 km
3 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
190 m
Longest Portage: 
150 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Not applicable
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Mostly open water paddling. The portages are few and simple. A wheelchair could negotiate them with assistance.

Technical Guide: 

Start at town of Whitefish Falls (dock area)
Southwest through Bay of Islands to west side of LaCloche Peninsula
South through LaCloche Channel
Under train bridge and Highway 6 bridge
South then east around Dreamer`s Peninsula
North through boat channel
Camp night one at the north end of Little LaCloche Island
Southeast then east through Frazer Bay
Camp night two along north shore of Frazer Bay
To southeast corner of Frazer Bay
P 150 m to small pond (Rat Portage)
Paddle small pond
P 40 m from pond to Killarney Bay
East across Killarney Bay to finish at town of Killarney

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

These trip notes describe a route paddled in August 1996 by myself and my sons Matthew (12) and Jonathan (10). We had done several river routes in the previous couple of years and were looking for something different. We chose the big open waters of Georgian Bay. The route from Whitefish Falls to Killarney is only 40 km long and has just two short portages.
We were at an awkward stage in our paddling style. The boys were big enough that paddling three to a canoe would be quite claustrophobic. Nonetheless ,they were not at the point that they were ready to paddle alone in the potentially large waves on the North Channel, so we decided that we would have to squeeze in together in our 16 ft. canoe.

Friday August 3, 1997

Having been too lazy to complete our packing the night before, we got a bit of a disorganized start. It was 10:00 am before we were ready for my wife Debbie to drive us to Whitefish Falls. We also had a delay of close to an hour at the Spanish River bridge over highway 17 due to construction. As a result, we didn`t arrive at Whitefish Falls until almost noon. We took the second (most southerly) entrance into the town and put in at the docks right beside the Bailey Bridge. After loading the gear, we paddled south past the lodges, marinas and boats which were docked along both sides of the channel.

After leaving the Whitefish Falls channel, we paddled southwest through Bay of Islands. The sun was shining and the winds were calm. We stopped for lunch at one of the hundreds of small islands in the area. In spite of it being peak summer season, there was very little boat traffic on the bay.

As we paddled down the west side of the LaCloche peninsula we began to notice the wind picking up, and in short order we were fighting a brisk headwind. Of particular note was the 5 km section on the in the LaCloche Channel and the area around the northern tip of Little La Cloche Island. A tough paddle against very strong winds and whitecaps.

Paddled past a commercial fish farm floating in the water off LaCloche Peninsula. These floating net structures are filled with hundreds of thousands of trout being raised for commercial packing plants and restaurants.

After 6 hours of tough paddling we had travelled over 20 km, and it was now almost 6:00 pm so we put ashore on a tiny speck of an island just of the east tip of Little La Cloche Island. As my son Matthew describes it in our journal, "... it is a very small island - there are only 3 trees." It was one of the few areas we saw that had a reasonably level (although not perfect) tent spot. Level ground appeared to be at a premium throughout the area. We put up the tent on the bare rock surface and anchored the corners and guylines with rocks. The boys paddled the 50 m over to Little LaCloche Island to gather firewood, and I organized the gear and cooked supper.

We enjoyed a simple meal of beef stew, cleaned up the dishes and relaxed around the campfire. As the sun descended over Georgian Bay, we were treated to a fabulous colour display, and we watched skies turn an amazing shade of purplish pink. Tired from our strenuous day of fighting wind and waves, we turned in at 9:30 pm.

Saturday August 4, 1997

It`s funny how a slope which looks insignificant can be big enough to make a Thermarest mattress slide around. We did the "slip and slide" all night, and the boys were questioning my skill at judging level surfaces the next morning. As Matthew wrote, "I did not sleep very well because the tent was on a slope. I kept waking up down at the bottom of the tent."

We had a fairly good section of Georgian Bay to cross as we headed past Baie Fine and into Frazer Bay on our second day, so we were up early. We didn`t want to get caught on a crossing several km wide with a strong following wind whipping up whitecaps and splashing water over the stern of our canoe. As it turned out, we had little to worry about. We paddled on dead-calm water through a cool, grey morning mist. It was Matthew`s turn to paddle, so Jonathan curled up in the middle of the canoe. Chilled by the damp weather, he had to pile on jackets and rainsuits to try and keep warm.

As we paddled by the small rock islands near the mouth of Baie Fine, hundreds of gulls lifted off and circled around us in a scene reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s "The Birds."

It took only 2½ hours of relaxed paddling to do the short 10 km distance from Little LaCloche Island to the east end of Frazer Bay where we were planning to camp. We scanned the rocky north shore of Frazer Bay as we paddled along, looking for a suitable campsite. Noticing a large area of bare rock at one location, we pulled ashore to investigate. The site was four-star rated, with lots of clean, flat rock to set up tents on, a nice cooking area with a fire ring, and a profusion of raspberry bushes along the shoreline. (UTM ref of the site is 543944). This was one of those sites that would be an excellent location to spend a couple of days on a future trip, so we carefully marked the location on our map.

As we set up our tent and unloaded the gear, the last of the morning mist burned off and we found ourselves working under clear blue skies. By 2:00 in the afternoon the temperature was 29ºC and we spent our time alternating between the campsite and the surprisingly warm waters of Frazer Bay. Scattered along the shore of the bay were large cube-shaped blocks of stone which made excellent "jump-off" spots for swimming.

Because of the area we were camped in, we were resigned to having to share with other boaters. To our surprise, we saw only two other groups - one powerboat which pulled ashore at the cobble beach just east of us for a shore lunch, and a sailboat which crossed the bay during the afternoon. Other than this, we had the entire area as our private playground.

Our unobstructed south view and the large areas of flat rock meant that we had an excellent opportunity for stargazing that night.

Sunday August 5, 1996

Rolled out of the tent at about 7:30 am, after tossing and turning since much earlier. We must have let in a few mosquitoes the previous night. They didn`t bother us for the first couple of hours as we lay and chatted, but after we fell asleep they decided that they were ravenous. After getting bitten numerous times, I finally did a "search and destroy" at 5:30 am when it was light enough to see the little buggers. Dozed a bit, but couldn`t get back to sleep, so I got up and put on the coffee.

It was another gorgeous day - not a cloud in sight. By 8:00 am a southwest wind was already beginning to pick up. We were scheduled to paddle southeast across Frazer Bay and Killarney Bay, so it looked like we were going to have to deal with some rollers broadside. The boys finally emerged from the tent at about 9:30 am and we soaked up the warm morning sunshine as we ate breakfast.

We put into the water at 10:30 am and headed across to the opposite side of Frazer Bay. We had to look for Rat Portage, which crosses the peninsula separating Frazer Bay from Killarney Bay. As we approached the area where the portage entrance was shown on the map, we noticed a number of brightly coloured signs. If they were portage signs, then Rat Portage was one of the best-marked portages I had ever seen. As it turned out, they were signs marking the portage as part of the extensive network of snowmobile trails which run through the area.

Rat portage was actually a double portage split in the centre by a pond. The first leg is a simple 150 m trail which leads from the shoreline into a small body of water. We put the gear back in the boat, paddled across the pond and arrived at a second, short trail (40 m) which went from the pond to Killarney Bay. Most of this second trail was "carpeted" with pieces of thick rubber conveyor belt.

We emerged from the small bay at the end of the portage and were back on the "big water." We took a quick compass bearing on the opposite shore 3½ km away to make sure we were heading towards the town of Killarney and struck out. The southwest breeze had not increased, so we did not have to deal with any large waves as we crossed the bay. In less than an hour, we were across the bay and paddling into the Killarney Channel. Dwarfed by the huge yachts and powerboats, we paddled to the east end of the channel and took out by the general store.

Phoned home to Debbie for our "taxi service" and while we were waiting, went for lunch at "Mr. Perch." This eating establishment may not be fancy...an old bus where they prepare the food and picnic tables to sit at, but it’s know far and wide for the quality of food.

Richard Munn
Oct 1997

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
41 I/4 Whitefish Falls 41 H/13 Little Current
Other Maps: 
Killarney Provincial Park Map - published by Friends of Killarney - shows all campsites, portages, etc
Special Comments: 

A great trip through the island-specked bays of the North Channel. Wonderful scenery, but not as isolated as some routes - expect some boat traffic. Caution is advised on the large open sections of the North Channel. A moderate wind can cause swells large enough to swamp a canoe. Early morning or late evening are the best times to paddle on Georgian Bay.