The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SPRING 2002











In this issue

Front Page



Spring Packet


From the Editor








Ontario's Lost Canoe Routes

By Kevin Callan

Boston Mills Press

Toronto, 166pp. $19.95

ISBN: 1-55046-3888

This review first appeared first appeared on Ottertooth under Temagami reviews

Kevin Callan has written his sixth canoe-route guidebook. Not a cut-and-dried Frommer's Does Ontario by Canoe guidebook. No, this one has got attitude, the same attitude that have made his books so popular. 

Ontario's Lost Canoe Routes contains 15 Ontario routes, three of which are in the Temagami region: Chiniguchi (chih-nih-GOO-chee) River, Thunderhead-Bob lakes and Marten River Park. These Temagami routes are not as well known and, particularly in the case of the Thunderhead route, not well used. His goal for this book was to find and publish out-of-the-way routes before they are lost. 

And here is the dilemma. "How can a route be 'lost,' or better yet," he says in the introduction, "protected, if some wilderness pornographer like me writes about it in a guidebook?" This is the same dilemma Hap Wilson faced back in 1978 when he published Temagami Canoes Routes. In the end, both Hap and Kevin came to the same conclusions: use it or lose it. Publicizing them and getting canoeing traffic back on these old nastawgan puts the onus on the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to protect them from industrialists and canoeists. (We won't get into the 

huge chasm between MNR's and the wilderness canoeist's concept of protection.)

Those who write up canoe routes have been criticized by some canoeists who see them opening up their private utopia. But I disagree with them because, sadly, reality is a harsh teacher. 

Kevin's route books are fun to read and he doesn't gloss over his own misfortunes or mistakes, often with self-deprecating humour. On his Chiniguchi trip, he dropped his canoe on a portage and soaked his first-aid kit. To bandage a cut he "had to resort to holding a piece of gauze over the cut with a strip of duct tape." Ouch.

The book has plenty of photos and every route is clearly mapped with interesting features, portages and campsites. Fortunately, he maps an  extension of the Chiniguchi trip through Evelyn Lake, but unfortunately doesn't flesh it out in the narrative. (Just can't get enough of this guy, I guess.)

There are a few minor factual errors in his research of some Temagami features. He attributed the Wakimika Triangle old-growth trails to Friends of Temagami, when they were built by Temagami Wilderness Society and Earthroots.

This book will help gain recognition for the 15 routes and provide some great choices off the beaten path. Even if you aren't intending to put your paddle in the water any time soon, the stories of his travels are so interesting that you will probably change your mind. 


Wabakimi Park (Smoothrock-Whitewater route)

Steel River Loop

Chapleau and Nemegosenda Rivers

Wakami Lake Loop

Ranger Lake Loop

Bark Lake Loop

Nabakwasi River Loop

Four M Circle Loop

Tatachikapika River

Chiniguchi River

Canton lakes (Thunderhead-Bob lakes)

Marten River Park

South River

York River

                                      — Brian Back

42 Days...Back River 2000 22 min

An Arctic Journey

Canoeing the Hood River  38 min

Wilderness Bound Productions 

Wilderness Bound is a small outfitting business in Hamilton, Ontario with some big multimedia capabilities. 

Run by veteran guides, George Drought and Barbara Burton, Wilderness Bound not only runs exotic trips in the far north, they also publish superb river guides and have two video productions on a pair of the north’s most famous rivers, the Back and the seldom-travelled Hood.

Now while these are amateur productions, they take good advantage of the great leaps in technology lately. And talk about synergies, the videos were shot while leading groups of paddlers down these remote rivers.

No doubt these videos serve them well to attract new customers who will be impressed by their style — a non-macho, group participation effort with an emphasis on history.

And like the ground they sleep on, the videos are a little uneven but very watchable and nicely convey the feel and realities of a northern canoe trip. Though you certainly would like to have a bit more info about the river and more about the trip participants who provide most of the narrative. 

The videos have some great nature footage, of caribou and muskoxen and even the extremely elusive wolverine (congrats!)

                                           — Michael Peake





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