mistercanoehead header & home page link


This summer's canoe trip was in northern Ontario on the Missinaibi River from Mattice to Moose River Crossing. We spent 12 great days in the middle of nowhere.
After a 10 hour drive to Cochrane, we camped and were "ferried" to Mattice where we started our trip. We planned on doing about 285 kilometres on the river.

On the first day, we were blessed with a bit of wind, so up went the sail. This lasted a couple of hours. The first section of the river flows through the Canadian Shield. This meant rough terrain, rapids and portages.

Our first camp was at Kettle Falls, named for the holes carved in the rock by pebbles. This was a DNR (Do Not Run) piece of the river.

The next day, we decided to set up camp on a small island in the middle of the river to get away from the bugs. After getting set up and relaxed, an incredible storm hit us, blowing the tarp around terribly. The wind was so strong that it broke one of the tent poles and for about an hour, we had to use ourselves to anchor the tarp. In the process, we got thoroughly soaked. After the storm let up, we threw our gear into the canoe, went downstream a bit and found another campsite on the shore. We had to return to the island to look for a paddle that had been swept into the river during the storm. Luckily, it was about 100 metres upstream from the island, caught in a reed bed.
Thunderhouse Falls was quite spectacular, but it necessitated a long portage.

All three sections were pretty, but looked vicious. Since the portage was well used, the campsites were well situated and comfortably clean. It had been raining on and off for two days, so we took it easy on this section.

The falls is actually 3 falls -
The Eliminator,

The Squeeze,

and The Strainer.

Above Hell's Gate Canyon. The bugs were really aggrevating here.

The trail got a lot muddier as we portaged around Hell's Gate Canyon. (Yes, there is one on every river!) The bugs were so bad that we had to use repellant.

When the sun comes out, you take advantage of it. We used nature's dryer for a couple of hours to take care of the past few days' laundry.

Along the shore, we found an astounding variety of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. There were fossils galore!

After canoeing through the rough Canadian Shield landscape, it was quite a change to paddle the river as it ran over the Hudson Bay Lowland. Flat Spruce Bog as far as the eye could see! The Missinaibi was about half a kilometre wide along this stretch.

Lowland means being prepared to camp on beaches. These can be rather wet and spongy based on the weather and the river level.

This picture shows just one of the reasons why wilderness canoeing is addictive. Where else could you possibly get such grandeur?

The other side of the situation was paddling into a strong wind for several days until we arrived at Portage Island at the confluence of the Missinaibi and Mattagami Rivers. The location was a perfect last stop on the river with its picturesque view and well appointed campsite.

We camped at Moose River Crossing to await the southbound Little Bear Train from Moosonee. The Northern Lights were fantastic at about 4 a.m.!! After loading our canoe, gear and ourselves onto the train, we spent a few hours in relative luxury amidst several dozen other canoeists who had recently done the river and were returning to Cochrane.