Paddling Lake Temagami In Northern Ontario

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Frequented by native tribes some 5,000 years back as they became less migratory.

This weekend after a couple prior attempts at coordinating a paddling canoeing trip (the quintessential Canadian summer experience) it finally came together on one of the best weather weekends of the summer. Yes, it’s mid-September and I found myself paddling around the spectacular Temagami lakes region of Northern Ontario with an old friend that I knew from Brisbane, Australia.

About 5 hours drive north of Toronto, Lake Temagami (formerly Lake Timagami) was frequented by native tribes some 5,000 years back as they became less migratory and sought out regular fishing, camping and boating areas for the warmer months of the year. The name of the lake means “deep water by the shore” in the Ojibwa language that was spoken by the Algonquin tribes who were widespread in this part of North America.

These tribal groups really paved the way for this type of canoeing trip, that we were taking this weekend and I’m told you can even see indigenous portage route markings alongside the current portage signs around the lake. Native people used to select the red birch tree for making these markings as these would remain on the tree, simply being reinforced around the edge of the marking, whereas white birch trees would heal over causing the route marking to disappear.

One thing I can see for these tribal people, they knew how to find prime paddling spots. On a weekend like this, I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be.

The Temagami Outfitting Company provided the canoe that we were paddling in. And they were great, not only renting us the boat (and allowing for my plan changes over a month) but they suggested a camping spot and discussed the options with me on the phone and in person. These guys love what they do and are obviously doing well with it, as they’ve just expanded to a larger building next door where they’ll be working with an indigenous elder to pass on some of the ancient skills of canoe building, water and woodcraft that are the heritage of Canadian people.

Camping along the lake is accessible primarily by canoe and as this is crown land (as opposed to Provincial or National Park land) camping is permitted at designated sites and free of charge. Though we did put some dollars in Ontario Parks coffees after driving up late Friday and camping at Finlaysons point (maintained by Ontario Parks). Money well spent as far as I’m concerned. This by the way is a good option if you can’t get awa