View topic - Finnlay River

Canadian Canoe Routes

Finnlay River
Page 1 of 2

Author:  Greg Allen [ November 16th, 2004, 5:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Finnlay River

Does anyone know anything about the Finlay. I lived in Ft Ware in the early 80's and wasn't thinking about canoeing. Since then I have developed an urge to go back and start at the headwaters - Thudade Lake. I can't anything out except RM Pattersons' book - "Finlay's River."

I would like to communicate with someone live.

Author:  kami916 [ November 24th, 2004, 1:33 am ]
Post subject: 

this is not a river for canoes. expert and adventurous kayakers and rafters, only. many portages. features class V+ cataract, waterfall etc. huge water. may be able to fly in to do small sections on a canoe, but even then you would need detailed info on where to get off, or die. stay home and read original source Samuel Black's Rocky Mountain Journal, available in some libraries.

Author:  Greg Allen [ November 24th, 2004, 2:04 am ]
Post subject: 


That's what I've heard! I am just curious as to whether or not anyone has actually seen it. As I said, I lived in Ware and even the natives did not have a difinitive answer.

My reason for inquiry is a desire to go back down the Mackenzie next year but from the headwaters. Kind of like the Nile River.

I'm just amazed that there is soo little information about the beginning of the longest river in Canada.

It almost begs to head up up an expedition.

Greg Allen

Author:  SGrant [ November 25th, 2004, 12:23 am ]
Post subject: 

Greg, This is no help with the information you need, but it's quite unusual to even hear of someone who's been to Fort Ware. A friend of mine wants to drive there, and we can't even get definitive information about how one accomplishes that! Do you know the sequence of roads one must use?


Author:  kami916 [ November 25th, 2004, 12:57 am ]
Post subject: 

the finlay, some sections of it, are occasionally rafted commercially.

if you're looking to do a trip on a mackenzie tributary, try the murray river, starting south of Tumbler Ridge at the base of Kinnuseo (sp?) Falls. Class ii and iii, leading to the Pine River, the Peace River and then the mackenzie. would make an epic journey.

Author:  Greg Allen [ November 25th, 2004, 3:40 am ]
Post subject: 

In regards to Ft Ware

There was no road when I lived there. Things have changed dramatically. I had contact with a school teacher who worked there until this last year.

There is now a website for the band. The lad I "spoke " with started the ski club and the web site. He's more than accomadating. I don't recall his name but he is on that website.

The road, I think - comes out of Germanson and goes to Ingenikia and then up the west side of the Finlay to a crossing over to Finbow. That is at least where the old plans were. I'm not sure where they put the bridge but there is now power, a Northern store and roads throughout the village.

I am sure you can contact the band office and get any information you want. Although it might be on Ft Ware time.

Let me know if I can be of more help.

Greg Allen

Author:  erich [ April 4th, 2016, 10:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finnlay River

This is an old post, but came up because someone who was interested in the Finlay, emailed me. Kami916 may have heard about it, but diplomatically, I say, probably has not done it nor spoken with anyone who has. The latter is because only a few have actually done it, including Samuel Black. To my knowledge, no rafts have been down the length from Thutade to Williston, and I would doubt rafts have been down it. It is at the upper end of tripping canoes with spray decks. There are three portages. Kami916 is not far off saying this is difficult, but V+? Email me if you want more specific info. Beautiful trip, but you have to be at the top of your game.

Author:  elGuapo [ April 7th, 2016, 11:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finlay River

Someone did the whole thing last year in a kayak:

Author:  erich [ April 7th, 2016, 11:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finnlay River

Guapo, while I don't doubt he paddled parts of the Finlay, I have doubts about the other parts. The kayak he shows, would not be suitable for the rapids I ran. If he did it, lots of carries would be required. Solo and unsupported? Maybe. Show me the photos. A shot of Thutade Lake doesn't do it. Sorry to be a doubter, but I have heard and read of people doing it before. Of the few, it became clear from their descriptions, that they hadn't done it. Only sections. We were only able to confirm that Richard and Patty Borek did it in the 90s, and Black did it in 1824. Only Samuel Black can be confirmed as the only one who actually paddled the entire Finlay.

Author:  Cordillera [ April 22nd, 2016, 11:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finnlay River

The Finlay has been kayaked. I have a friend who did it. However it involves a brutal portage around the canyon. It has also been rafted with a Heli portage. Samuel black was more than amazing.

Author:  erich [ April 23rd, 2016, 12:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finnlay River

Cordillera, I have to disagree with you regarding "the Canyon". There are multiple canyons. I am providing first hand knowledge of the route. Although the portages are difficult, they are not portages from hell. To be clear. I did not mention this in my previous posts, but did indicate I have knowledge about the Finlay. When I said that rafts could not do it to Williston, I was and am speaking from experience. I paddled the Finlay from Thutade Lake to Lake Williston in September 2011. We had a crew of six. Two OT Appalacians, and a Hellman Slocan, early model. We portaged three times. Once at Cascadero Falls, once at Kodak Cataract, and a third before Kodak Cataract. None were a piece of cake, but all were doable. Levels were around 550CMS, about twice what was normal for that time of year. To clarify further, if the kayak and raft trips only portaged once, in the canyons section, that would mean they missed the mandatory portage at Cascadero Falls. This would indicate that they did not paddle Thutade Lake, and the upper part of the Finlay, including the confluence of the Firesteel. They would then probably have put in at the Kemess Mine Road. By doing a heli portage around the major canyons, the raft group would have missed most of the central part of the river, perhaps 1/4 to a third of the river as it now flows. And finally, it seems unlikely that the rafts, and possibly the kayaks would have paddled in the incredibly slow and potentially windy lower river as it nears Williston. The only other access would be at (Ft.) Ware, which eliminates the lower river. Paddling a few sections of what was once a much longer river, hardly qualifies as paddling the Finlay a nor a descent of the river as it is now.

Author:  Cordillera [ April 23rd, 2016, 9:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finnlay River

You got me I wasn't there. But a close friend here in Smithers did kayak it and reports portaging only once. That was more than ten years ago. The same group have kayaked most of the tribs in the upper stikine area and are pretty competent. His version was portage from hell. And yes they took out at Kwadacha. The raft trip also ended up in Kwadacha. You are probably right they did not start at the very upper end; I know they did not run the falls! If someone wants more detail I can pm names of who to contact. I think the point I made I stand by is that it has been done and has at least one (possibly more depending on craft and capabilities) difficult portage.

My personal first hand knowledge was river boat up to Fort Ware several times in the eighties. I thought the question was primarily about whether the portion above Fort ware had been paddled because the part below is routine.

Author:  erich [ April 24th, 2016, 12:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Finnlay River

Cordillera, while I don't doubt that the two groups had great trips, the point that I was making was that if both parties put in some distance below Cascadero Falls, and took out at Kwadacha, with the rafts heli portaging the three worst canyons, one can hardly call that "running the Finlay" as it now exists, nor, in the case of the rafts, be able to describe features and routes of the main canyons. While the lower river below Kwadacha(Ware) is easy the sections above the Old Man have only been confirmed to have been completely done by the Boreks, Black, and our party in 2011. Complete knowledge of the route is essential, as the take out above Cascadero Falls was one of the heart in the throat variety. 100 meters above the falls, one must ferry from RL to RR and grab an eddy that hardly has room for one canoe. On that carry, above the edge of the falls, we found a tree that had grown up around a 1 X 2 piece of milled wood. We surmised that this was likely used by a surveyor to measure the edge of the falls and would probably have been placed there by Swannell in the 1930s when he flew in to complete his survey. I don't doubt that your friends had great trips, though the rafts missed the best part. As well, both parties missed substantial parts of the river. One can run the Upper Stikine and Lower Stikine, but without running the Grand Canyon, one could hardly claim to have run the entire Stikine. Semantics or not, the only one to have run the Finlay in its original entirety, was Black with Swannell a close second but for the upper part he missed due to time constraints.

Author:  aaron trowbridge [ April 26th, 2016, 12:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finnlay River

I know the same crew as Cordillera and my understanding is they put in on the upper Firesteel.

Author:  erich [ April 26th, 2016, 1:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Finnlay River

That would be considerably easier than running the Finlay to the Firesteel confluence. I had looked at doing the Firesteel before I did the Finlay from the lake as the logistics to get there were a bit easier, through the Collingwoods. We looked up the Firesteel when we met it and it had considerably less volume than the Finlay. that, to the point of probably a bit boney in low water years. On our team were Tony Shaw who was at Iskut for many years and Laurel Archer, whom you may know.

For those of you who have read," Finlay's River" by RM Patterson, the second canyon photo is the spot where Patterson included a shot from Swannell getting their dugout canoe up. This was at the left of my photograph. A hard place, to be sure, we had to lower the canoes down the slope on the left of the photograph.

I'll add the Second Canyon in the photo, may actually not be the actual second canyon. Black named the canyons going upstream and Deserter's Canyon is no more. According to Black, this would shave been Third Canyon, but exists today as the second canyon with the Old Man canyon being the first.

Page 1 of 2 All times are UTC - 5 hours
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group