View topic - Crossing Canada - Those Damn Mountains.

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PostPosted: August 19th, 2020, 9:00 am 
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I have always wondered if there would be a way to cross Canada by canoe. I know to get off the prairies and into Ontario, there is a Height of land Portage. Do any of the rivers flowing into the Pacific have a source the comes close to the source of a river that goes to the Arctic?


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PostPosted: August 19th, 2020, 9:27 am 
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Ahhh.

The classic problem.
It can be done- and has been done.
Have you read much about David Thompson or Alexander MacKenzie? They solved the problem 200 years ago and the geography hasn't changed much since then.

There is a portage or two involved.

Bruce


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PostPosted: August 19th, 2020, 4:33 pm 
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If you Google "crossing canada by canoe" you'll get links to a number of people who have done it.

In 2019 there was a tv series (The Brigade) which followed a group from the Pacific to Hudson Bay.

https://cottagelife.com/entertaining/10 ... or-500000/

I think it's generally easier to go from West to East as there is less upstream travel. Once you cross the Rockies there are a few different options depending on how far East (or North) you want to go.

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PostPosted: August 19th, 2020, 6:30 pm 
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Certainly any route can be travelled with a canoe, but doesn't the canoeing on the west slope have a few too many impassable canyons? I get that it was done historically and been re-done on occasion in modern times, but a height of land seems like it ought to have at least plausible paddling on the uphill side to be worth the effort from any recreational point of view.


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PostPosted: August 19th, 2020, 7:36 pm 
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Joined: March 23rd, 2006, 11:21 pm
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Location: Burns Lake, BC
Arctic Pacific Lakes Provincial Park in BC.


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PostPosted: August 20th, 2020, 12:41 am 
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Pook wrote:
Ahhh.

The classic problem.
It can be done- and has been done.
Have you read much about David Thompson or Alexander MacKenzie? They solved the problem 200 years ago and the geography hasn't changed much since then.

There is a portage or two involved.

Bruce


I'll have to brush up on my geography, but I didn't think they made it close enough east to ON to truly get across Canada.


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PostPosted: August 20th, 2020, 2:05 am 
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Do NOT take the Arctic Pacific Lakes Provincial Park route. Mackenzie named what is now James Creek the Bad River for a reason. Take the Giscome Portage Trail (actually, following the roads would be easier) at Hubble Homestead to Summit Lake and paddle right through the Rockies on Williston Reservoir. This is the route Joe O'Blenis took, and the link below will take you to the first leg of his journey:
http://www.clippercanoes.com/kitimat-to ... -columbia/

Here is another thread with the same question, but it only got one answer. Turns out Joe O' crossed Canada in both directions
https://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewto ... 05&t=44770

Yukon - Porcupine - Bell (Rat) - Peel if you don't mind a more northerly/Alaska route.
http://parkscanadahistory.com/series/ch ... s19-1e.htm

Liard River is scary, but it was travelled and opens a few options.
Yukon - Pelly - Finlayson - Frances - Liard
What I've seen of the Rancheria River (Liard watershed) from the highway looks navigable, and it is just a hop, skip, and a jump to the Swift River (Teslin/Yukon watershed). Rancheria is small enough that it may end up in beaver ponds & tears, I don't know.
Stikine (also scary) - Dease - Liard

Google Mike Ranta, who has gone across Canada twice recently. I know I saw a map of one of the routes he took through BC

Good luck!


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PostPosted: August 20th, 2020, 5:32 am 
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I'll have to brush up on my geography, but I didn't think they made it close enough east to ON to truly get across Canada.

Psst.
David Thompson regularly paddled back and forth to the Rendezvous at the Grand Portage on Lake Superior (Fort William) as well as making the trip to Montreal for shareholder meetings of the Northwest Company.

Bruce


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PostPosted: August 20th, 2020, 2:24 pm 
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Mike Ranta and his dog, Spitzii, have done it twice. Maybe follow his route.

https://www.facebook.com/mikerantaspaddle/


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PostPosted: August 21st, 2020, 10:36 am 
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OP here.

I had thought that taking the Fraser would be good, but I would need to get to a river that dumps into Lake Winnipeg. That means a Portage from Jasper to Saskatchewan Crossing


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PostPosted: August 22nd, 2020, 12:40 am 
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Both of Joe O's trips used the Fraser and were supposed to use Lake Winnipeg but he got sick on the west to east route and skipped Lake Winnipeg. Fur traders used the Lake Winnipeg-> Saskatchewan River -> Churchill River -> Clearwater River for 100+ years, so that route is proven. Neither route sounds easy, and whichever direction you go will have a tough slog upstream.

The fur traders didn't have many alternatives, but you do. A motor on the canoe would save a lot of upstream work. A shuttle between Tete Jaune or Moose Lake BC and Jasper or Saskatchewan River Crossing won't make the trip much less epic. You'll still have a fair share of suffering. I only have a few specific places where I do any upstream paddling, and I've never done it for days like you'll have to.

Joe O's west to east route appeals more to me, but I'd skip the uphill part and start somewhere that eventually drains into the Nechako River, then catch a ride from Prince George to Summit Lake or Jasper or Saskatchewan River Crossing.

A spectacular trip that would change up the scenery more than anything in the Nechako watershed would be a rafting section from Chilko Lake to Farwell Canyon, then catch a ride from there. Ferry from Vancouver Island to Bella Coola, then catch a ride to Chilko and hire a raft with a fishing guide, have the guides pick you up at Farwell Canyon and drive you to Williams Lake. I don't know if the Chilcotin is raftable early in the year though. From Williams Lake you could then find a way to Edmonton and buy a canoe to paddle east. Or get to Bowron Lake, paddle the Bowron River -> Fraser River -> Giscome Rapids -> portage to Summit Lake and follow Joe O's route. Could be the first time anyone has done that route, and once again the Bowron may be scary in spring. Once met 2 guys from Quesnel who paddle Bowron -> Fraser -> Quesnel in solo canoes with spray covers every year. They mentioned a challenging canyon on the Bowron and the whirlpools of Fort George Canyon as highlights. You would take out far before Fort George Canyon. I've been through Fort George Canyon in a tin boat and can confirm the scary whirlpools.

If you go east to west and paddle down the Fraser I'm sure there are guidebooks to be found. Mount Robson area has some mandatory portages even for the rafters, and further downstream are the Bridge River Rapids (I think the guides take the rafts through but make the clents walk?) and Hell's Gate. I've seen the violent whirlpools at the Grand Canyon of the Fraser and Fort George Canyon. The steam boats blasted the worst parts of Giscome Rapids but it is a boulder garden for a jet boat at low water. I don't think a canoe would have any trouble there though. The 2019 Big Bar slide may be scary and won't be in the guide books. The Fraser and the Thompson have lots of paddling near highways and trains and private land. The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion may be underway with several crossings of the Thompson in the next couple of years.


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