first timer

At the age of 58 I have just discovered canoeing. I live in Ripon, Yorkshire, England about 200 yds from a canal where I am teaching myself how to handle my Nova Craft Bob’s Special. So far only canal, river and some lake work. In 2 years time I want to give myself a 60th birthday treat and go on a “wilderness” trip of a lifetime in Canada where I have relatives. Any ideas on where and when would be best for a “tripping virgin?”

Lot’s of choices…
I live in Ohio, so I’m quite fond of the Great Lakes, especially the Georgian Bay in Lake Huron and many parts of Lake Superior.

The Georgian Bay would be good for a beginner. There are areas (like Killarney) that have an archipelago of islands that allow for paddling in protected waters. The scenery is awesome and the water is crystal clear.

Lake Superior is also great…maybe a little more challenging and colder, but still spectacular.

Do searches on theses areas and you’ll see what I mean.

Good luck and happy paddling!


Canada info
The following link provides very good info on places to paddle in Canada. Plan carefully and have a great experience.

Yes…Do Whitehorse to Dawson City
on the Yukon River…the logistics are easy and the river will float you right into Dawson…This year the river was running high and many of the great camping spots were under water…plan for about 14 days which will give you plenty of time to camp and explore some of the historical sites and by all means read P. Burtons book Klondike Fever…

I would check out a very good

– Last Updated: Aug-17-05 9:57 PM EST –

journal of the Wilderness Canoe Association called Nastawgan. It has to be good because it has published a bunch of my pieces! All they do is have articles on trips to take. There is also a web site called Canadian Canoe Routes. Hit both and you will be far ahead of most people.


Good For You !
I just turned 50 and got my first Kayak. Remember when we were younger and thought that 50’s were VERY old and too old to have fun?

I started canoeing only a little earlier
than you and now just turned sixty. I just got back for a difficult big lake trip up north of Fort St. James in central BC, Canada. Love visiting Canada. I think I have a great trip for you. I paddled it last year and met a lot of Brits who paddled it more than once: the Bowron Lake Chain up in central BC. People come from all over the world to paddle it. A great trip that would have everything you could ask for including super mountain scenery. A series of eleven lakes connected by fairly good portage trails that would allow you to use a canoe cart which makes the portages relatively easy. Also, they have the course organized so that if you got into trouble you could get help in a reasonable time. I would suggest going later in the year. I went in September just after labor day when the schools start, which is early Fall for the Bowron, so frequently I had the campsites to myself. You’ll have enough challeges on the trip to keep you interested and have a few minor rapids to deal with along with the Cariboo river which can be a challenge depending on how fast it’s running. The water’s cold so an expected swim is life threatening. If you miss the take-outs you’ll have a very exciting ride over a large water fall. I took eight days but when I do it again I’ll give myself a couple more days to explore the lakes and watch for animals, but you could do it in six. It was great listening to the wolves baying at night. It’s a must for any paddler who enjoys tripping.

You may want to contact the BCU in order to take some training. Their program is excellent. They have a number of instructors that are familiar with Canada. Nigel Dennis comes to mind?

Good places for your first wilderness trip would be Algonquin, Frontenac or Massasauga. Well maintained portages & sites. Reasonably populated for safety’s sake. Reasonably remote for solitude.

I would avoid Georgian Bay proper unless you are confident on big waters. Swells can pick you up and drop you on a rock. Also there are motor boats and civilization out there. has some great folks who can steer you right.

new canoe site

Glad to see its never to late to learn something new. I write for a paddling website and am adding new articles daily about canoeing. I only have a few up now but should have plenty by the end of the week.

just thought they might help you out.

Start near relatives
Where in Canada do your relatives live?

It is such a big country with paddling opportunities almost everywhere, that since you intend to visit the relatives, start there.


Guided trips in Canada wilderness
You may want to go on a guided trip. A lot of advantages in this for an inexperienced paddler.

Cliff Jacobson guides 1 or 2 trips a summer into the north of Canada and knows what he is doing.