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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through August 3, 2012 * Matachewan(or Elk Lake) to Abitibi River < Previous Next >

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expedition2012
Member

Post Number: 1
Registered: 11-2011
Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 12:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Hey all,
I am a member of a canoeing expedition (expedition2012.com) that will be journeying on the a 65-day trip this spring. We are traveling from Lake Dunmore, VT to Moosonee, ON. Our route is pretty well secured up until Matachewan, but I haven't figured the best route from there in order to connect with the Abitibi River. I have been playing with three options and would love any information, feedback, knowledge, or opinions of the best route (it is distinctly possible that I've entirely missed an obvious one).

So the three options that as I see them:

1) Working from Matachewan via a lot of pond hopping to Lake Watabeag and using the Watabeag River to connect to the Black River and reach Iroqouis Falls on the Abitibi.

2) From Elk Lake use Council Creek to connect with Englehart River towards Lake Watabeag. The rest is the same as above.

3) Matachewan Lake to Whitefish Lake and onto Whitefish River flowing into Nighthawk Lake. Continueing north into Frederick House Lake and onto F.H. River which flows into Abitibi River further north.

I know these are in vague descriptions in the grand scheme of things, but if any of you have information about canoe tripping in this region, or know of another person who would be a valuable resource, it would be greatly appreciated.

For reference the area in question are on the Map 41P (Gogama) and 42A (Timmins) 1:250,000 maps from the Dept. of Energy, Mines, and Resources.

Thanks for any help you are able to give,

Peter Wright and the crew of Expedition2012
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grncnu
Member

Post Number: 146
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 7:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

i always thought the route to the abitibi was via the kipawa r. on the other side of temiskaming.
if you go back to feb. 12th in this forum you will find a link to information on an old route from matachewan to the grassy r./mattagami r. to james bay but this would bypass the abitibi (which i understand may have pollution issues due to paper mills around l. abitibi...)
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ed
Moderator

Post Number: 1122
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 8:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

You might want to look at this documentary by Frank Wolf. They travel in the opposite direction but do get to the Moose River and then go upstream on the Mattagami to Timmins and then the Grassy to the Montreal etc.
http://www.borealis-movie.com/

In the meantime, all of the routes you propose are old historic canoe routes, but it is doubtful that anyone here knows if they are presently useable.

There is some interest in re-opening the Hawk Portages this Spring that allow travel between the Montreal River at Pigeon Lake to Ferris Lake ( formerly Hawk Lake) to the Grassy River then the Grassy to the Mattagami River and on to the Moose.There is a section through here where you need to do a lot of portaging around a series of dams. See the Documentary Film.

The 1: 250,000 maps you are looking at are not sufficently detailed to help you plot your route. You could go to the MNR Forestry Website and look at the 4.2 Values Map for the Timiskaming Forest Management Unit.I was going to post the links but the site is down tonight and I can't get into it.But that would let you have a better look at the various routes before investing in better maps at higher resolution.

The initial link is; http://www.appefmp.mnr.gov.on.ca/eFMP/home.do?lang uage=en

You would then need to use the pulldown menu to look up the Timiskaming FMP and then go to the Maps section and locate the Values Maps.

Curly, another poster here has a paper copy of this forestry map and another old Map, 21C (vintage 1933) that shows all these routes at least up to Nighthawk. He may be able to help you, if he drops by.
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grncnu
Member

Post Number: 147
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 11:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

the thread from feb. 12 is by curly and is called "history of the little hawk portages".
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ed
Moderator

Post Number: 1123
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 9:31 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

grncnu: Do you have a link for this post?

also this might be of interest to expedition2012

http://www.ottertooth.com/discus/messages/3/9020.h tml
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dergon_darkhelm
Member

Post Number: 70
Registered: 06-2008
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 1:29 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

I have nothing to add exept.... your trip sounds awesomely fun!

We have a pair of paddles hanging in our cabin from a two treks in 1908 and 1936 respectively from Temagami to Moosonee and back. It's been a hope of mine since my teens that maybe one day we'd recreate that route.....but, as they say , real life happens.

So enjoy your expedition and keep us posted!!

(Message edited by dergon darkhelm on November 30, 2011)
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grncnu
Member

Post Number: 148
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 1:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

ed, the link is
http://www.ottertooth.com/discus/messages/3/34091. html?1297547813
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groggins
Member

Post Number: 19
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 2:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Probably not of major help in planning your expedition however this website contains an old interesting map illustrating some of the routes followed by our French Canadian fore fathers
http://books.google.ca/books?id=nGRWRgj48fMC&pg=PA 29&lpg=PA29&dq=Charles+Le+Moyne+canoe+route+to+jam es+bay&source=bl&ots=T1p7ASnXDy&sig=qBKkH0P_WyFiO3 -m6Gqxe8zwupo&hl=en&ei=Fn3WTo-WMOjV0QHgmeiAAg&sa=X &oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBQ #v=onepage&q&f=false
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curly
Member

Post Number: 316
Registered: 03-2006


Posted on Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 1:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

You're doing this at the perfect time to celebrate the re-opening of the Little Hawk Portages between the Montreal River watershed and the Mattagami River watershed. Head upstream from Matachewan on the West Montreal River to Pigeon Lake. Then over the Little Hawks to Ferris Lake. Paddle down the Grassy River to the Mattagami and then the Moose. You'll want to be in touch with Laurent Robichaud to confirm progress on this project, contact him through http://www.savehighfalls.com

Also, ask Laurent if he'd like a letter of support for his work permit application to re-open the portages.

If by chance these 4 portages are not re-opened next spring, I'd look at heading north from Matachewan Lake, over the height of land and down Radisson Creek to Nighthawk Lake. You'd be the first through there in a long time. I've done a lot of thinking about the route to James Bay. Personally, I wouldn't consider any of the 3 options you mention above. But who knows? If you want to consider the Whitefish, I'd be in touch with someone at the Timmins Paddling Club, again ask Laurent for a contact.

Here is an article I wrote for the Friends of Temagami's Spring 2011 newsletter:


"How to get out of Temagami

What we know as Temagami covers a vast wilderness, 15,000 square kilometres (5800 square miles), from just north of North Bay and Sudbury to just south of Timmins. But for an area that is so interconnected with waterways, there are relatively few routes into and out of Temagami. In the east is Lake Temiskaming, providing access to the northeast (Abitibi), east (Quebec), and southeast (Mattawa, Ottawa). To the south are the Sturgeon and Wanapitei rivers, emptying into the French River and Georgian Bay. But to the north and west, the routes are few and little known. However, in the far northwest, three main routes head north to James Bay.

The first route out of Temagami is north of Matachewan. At the north end of Matachewan Lake, a portage crosses the height of land to Radisson Creek. The Radisson flows north to Night Hawk Lake, which flows into the Frederick House, Mattagami, and finally the Moose rivers.

The second route out of Temagami lies farther northwest. At Pigeon Lake on the West Montreal River, four portages lead north to the Grassy River, which flows into the Mattagami near Timmins. Robert Bell, a surveyor with the Geological Survey of Canada, writes about them in his 1875 report:

From the northern extremity of Pigeon Lake, the route which I followed passed northward over four portages and three ponds, to the eastern extremity of Kaik-kaik-ose or Little Hawk Lake. The four portages are called the Little Hawks. The first is 897, and the last 510 paces long, while each of the two intervening ones measures about one mile and a-quarter.

Kaik-kaik-ose is today known as Ferris Lake, which empties into the Grassy River. Craig MacDonald researched the history of this area for his landmark Historical Map of Temagami. MacDonald says, “The Little Hawks are of immense historic importance. They were the main fur trade route between Temagami and Moose Factory.”

The third route out of Temagami rises further up the West Montreal at Shining Tree It crosses a height of land to the Opikinimika River. From here, one can head west to Biscotasing, northwest to the the Groundhog or Missinaibi, north to the Mattagami, or south to the Wanapitei or Spanish.

Before the railway, all three of these routes were used extensively by Temagami youth camps to travel north to James Bay. Today they are used by Camp Wapomeo to travel from Bisco to Matagamasi and by Camp Keewaydin as part of a great circle route from Lake Temagami to the Wanapitei and Chiniguchi rivers."

(Message edited by curly on December 1, 2011)
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expedition2012
Member

Post Number: 2
Registered: 11-2011
Posted on Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 2:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Thanks for all the help. It been a great encouragement to read about the Whitefish/Nighthawk route and of the Little Hawk Portages. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get in contact with mdwag or sundown, as they both are not listed as current members. Did anyone have direct conversations and might have some sort of contact info, as I am very interested in seeing if they ever explore or even ran the route they discussed.
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ed
Moderator

Post Number: 1124
Registered: 03-2004


Posted on Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 4:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

You might consider posting an email address leaving some extra spaces to keep the bots away and see if either of them respond to you.

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