​Kayaking The Georgian Bay Coast: Days 5 And 6 – Byng Inlet To Hangdog I. To Garland I. (The Minks)

Previous Post: Days 3 & 4 – From The Bustard islands To South of Byng Inlet;

Our Day 4 campsite to the south of Byng Inlet was an interior one away from G’ Bay;  it faced east towards Marjory island and the mainland so we missed out on a sunset.  We were, however, treated to a beautiful sunrise as we crawled out of our tents shortly after 6:30 the next morning.

sunrise over Byng Inlet – August 26 6:40

Day 5 – From S of Byng Inlet To The Hangdog Island Channel

  • distance: 17.5 km (about half of Day 4’s paddle!)
  • weather: another great day on the Bay

Day 5 paddle – the first half

By 8:30 we had left our campsite (pictured below) and were making our way to another of Rick’s favourite little spots –  a small island on the south side of Norgate Inlet and across from Duquesne Island with its rebuilt lodge.  He kept the specific nature of the stop a secret until we actually got there!

our Day 4 S of Byng Inlet campsite the next morning

one of Rick’s surprise stops – just S of Duquesne Island Lodge

Well, it turned out that this was the Jumping Rock  – or, at least, one of them! Rick and Ken took advantage of the rock and the warmth of the morning and dived in for a little swim. Meanwhile I – not really a keen swimmer! – walked my Canon Elph 330 p&s around to frame the scene from different vantage points!

the view N to Duquesne island

Rick goes for a ritual jump from his tour stop south of Duquesne island

looking S from the Jumping Rock near Duquesne Island

a refreshed Rick ready to paddle

After our little break, we’d spend the next hour and a half heading down the coast and not feeling the need to stay especially close to the shore – the water was that calm. By 11:30 as we crossed Charles Inlet it was time to check out another spot from Rick’s special tour map.  He called it an art installation but Ken and I were not quite sure what that could be. When we saw the piece of whimsy pictured below we couldn’t help but express our approval.

Unfortunately, the image I framed does not do justice to the clever adaptation of a random slice of nature. Not clearly shown are the two legs of the fisherman being swallowed by the sea monster! The lack of a viewfinder and the washed-out LCD screen meant I was shooting blind.

whimsical Georgian Bay art installation! – the dragon and the fisherman

creative use of rock in Charles Inlet

As the map below shows, we paddled through a maze of islands across Bayfield Inlet all the way down to our early stop for the day on Hangdog Island and another terrific campsite.

We had stopped so early that we actually had lunch when we got to the campsite! Day 5 – another in a string of memorable days paddling the north-east coast of Georgian Bay!  The next day would have enough “eye candy” and history to be perhaps the best single day of the trip!

from Jarrad island to Hangdog Island

our Hangdog Channel landing

8 p.m. end of August sunset on Georgian Bay

Day 6 – From Hangdog I. to Garland I. (just N of Elmtree I.)

  • distance: 22 kilometers
  • weather: sunny with little wind
  • campsite – Garland island, the northernmost of the Minks Islands group

The shot below shows the deck of my rental kayak and the waterproof  (well, IPX7) Pelican case that I kept my Canon Elph 330 in. The p&s was always accessible for quick shots and the results are usually acceptable.  Ripple-free water this morning, eh!

We left the campsite at about 8:30 … an hour later we were approaching Pointe Au Baril (it is pronounced Point O’ Barrel with no French twist to it at all!). Before the trip,  I had taken a closer look at the topos of the Pointe au Baril area between Highway 69 and the Bay. I have gone past a hundred times over the years but never knew that it was such a popular cottage destination. So – given that it was a Sunday in prime time cottage season – we did see the most boat traffic and cottages of our entire trip this morning as we travelled through the maze of islands pictured on the map above. It was not really as bad as I had expected!

We had another diversion this morning – a visit to the lighthouse and its keepers at Lookout Point. It was at this point that fur traders found a barrel of brandy – or was it whisky? –  one spring in the 1870’s (a suspect date which seems a hundred years too late!) that had been lost by another crew the year before.  Some serious partying ensued and the point had its name!  As we approached I pointed my p&s Canon east at the barrel and the morning sun.  The reward was the blown-out image of the barrel on a stick you see in the photo below!

Pointe Au Baril lighthouse at Lookout Point – note all the cottages nearby!

the Barrel on a pole at the entrance of Pointe Au Barrel Harbour

A few years after the barrel was installed at the point,  a mariner’s light was added.  Over time increasingly permanent structures were built.  We would spend a half-hour checking out the current lighthouse, built around 1900. It is a tapered square wooden structure with a light at the top which was automated in the early 1980’s. Attached to the light tower is the keeper’s cottage; in our visit, we met the legendary current keeper, Emmaline Madigan.

a view of the Pointe au Baril lighthouse from the dock

a panorama of the Pointe au Baril lighthouse and outer harbour

Pointe au Baril panorama – click on to enlarge!

I framed a shot of the anchor, a piece of marine salvage found by the keeper’s daughters in the 1990’s while trolling nearby and brought back here. It is thought to belong to the steamship Asia which sank in September of 1882.

Pointe au Baril – the lighthouse

An interesting article on Madigan and her life can be accessed here  (The Ojibwe Hotel Historical Preservation Society website).  Also, check out the Youtube video below for more background on Madigan’s life and her sixty-year-plus connection with the lighthouse.  After being dismissed when the lighthouse was automated in 1983, she was invited back in 2000  after local authorities took over management of the lighthouse.  She is in her beloved lighthouse from May to September and visitors are welcome to tour the structure and chat.

looking out to Georgian Bay from the Pointe au Baril lighthouse

We were glad to have stopped in this Sunday morning to meet Emmeline and her new partner Bill Puglsey.  The climb up to the top of the tower was a bonus!

Back in the kayaks, it was southward.  it would have been nice to paddle a bit east to check out the old Ojibway Hotel – now a sailing club but with a public restaurant – but that will be another for another trip!  We did take a brief break on some flat rock just across from Kishkadena Island and its huge residence.  A bit of googling a few days later turned up more information on the property, the Kishkadena Island Beach House,  a 4-acre property with a 5000 sq. ft. cottage.  It recently sold for the asking price ($3,950,000.) See here for the details.

stretching our legs on a piece of Georgian Bay rock

Our lunch stop would be at the north end of Big McCoy Island. It was a sunny day and shade was at a premium but we did find a few trees that provided some respite from the sun.  Lunch done, we headed west on the channel between Big McCoy and  Agassiz Islands.

the channel between Big McCoy and Agassiz Islands

a view from the north end of Big McCoy I.

Then we paddled to the west side of the island and down the east side of Chippewa Island. Our goal was Elmtree Island and a campsite that Rick had used before but as we approached we could see that there were already people there. So instead, we pulled ashore on the island one up from it –  the northernmost of the Mink Islands.  That would be Garland Island, our home for the night.  It allowed for an opportunity to ramble around and access different views of the rockscape and seascape that makes G’ Bay so special.

Day 6 – from Big McCoy to Garland I.

We arrived at Garland Island shortly before 4 and, as always, the tents went up first before we switched into a more relaxed mode.

kayaks on shore at Garland Island – the day is done

Garland Island campsite

A carpet of sunburst lichen (Xanthoria elegans) covered the horizontal rock face along the shore.

sunburst lichen along the shoreline of Garland Island

small natural garden in a rocky nook of Garland Island

more sunburst lichen on Garland island

life in the cracks of the rocks of Garland Island

my tent on Garland Island – well-anchored!

On the first two days I had tried to set up my tent in sheltered spots with a bit of earth underneath that I could push my tent pegs into.  I would learn that this is often not possible – or even ideal – on a G’Bay trip! The shot above shows my obsession with securely anchoring my tent. There must be two hundred pounds of rocks weighing the tent down!

looking east from Garland Island – on the distant horizon perhaps the Oak Islands

Our trip was nearing its end and we had been given almost ideal weather for most of our trip.  Our vehicles were at Snug Harbour, less than twenty kilometers away.

We planned to spend one more night on the Bay on the south end of Franklin Island before an easy morning’s 4-kilometer paddle to the dock at Snug Harbour. Still to be determined was our exact crossing point.  There were two options –

  • We could head for the north end of Franklin I. the first thing in the morning or
  • we could paddle down the Minks and then cross over to the south end of Franklin.

While we were hoping for the second option, it would be the wind and the waves that would determine our choice.

NEXT POST:  Days 7 & 8  Garland Island to Franklin Island To Snug Harbour



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8 Responses to ​Kayaking The Georgian Bay Coast: Days 5 And 6 – Byng Inlet To Hangdog I. To Garland I. (The Minks)

  1. Garry Paget says:

    Good morning “Ramblin’ Boy”,

    I’m playing the “young hoot owl” as I grabbed a power nap earlier then proceeded to find your most recent posting. I’m starting to wish you don’t finish this paddle as it’s getting more interesting as you paddle further! Hasn’t been mentioned but are you in the 30,000 islands now or have you passed through them?

    Lovely photos!!


    • true_north says:

      Garry, congrats for reading! Hopefully a few of the pix capture some of what makes the G’Bay coast so special.

      Re: the 30,000 islands. I am not sure if that refers to the entire Georgian Bay or just a section of it. My impression is that most of those islands are on the east of the Bay as you go down from Killarney to Midland. They have a 30,000 Islands cruise boat out of Parry Sound which seems to be popular though the best way to experience them is clearly in a kayak!

  2. BobnCarol Farrington says:

    Very nice write-up of your trip. Sounds like you had mostly good weather and a great guide. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

    My wife and I are planning to do this trip this summer. We have done most of it in bits and pieces – now it’s time to put it all together.

    Thanks again – BobnCarol

    • true_north says:

      BobnCarol – enjoy your extended paddle down the G Bay coast! May you have the same great weather we did!

      Check out the excellent Kas Stone book for some additional tips on places to visit.

      Thanks for the positive review! If you upload a trip report, send me the link and I’ll include it in my post.

  3. Elizabeth Holden says:

    Thank you so much for these beautiful photographs.

    • true_north says:

      Elizabeth, this blog started mostly as a way for me to do something with my travel pix other than have them just sit on my computer hard drive after I returned from yet another trip. Always nice to hear someone likes some of the shots I bring home! Thanks.

  4. Evan says:

    My family owned Garland Island and I would spend all my summers there until about 1999. It’s actually quite meaningful for me to see photos of it, so thank you for this post.

    I still camp avidly around the Georgian bay but haven’t ventured out that far and never thought it would be possible to visit Garland as it’s private land, unless I’m mistaken. How did you manage it? Did you just go?

    I have strong memories of the place and have considered going to camp on neighboring Hardie, which we would take day trips too and I know is, or at least was, unoccupied. Any info would be really great, thanks!

    • true_north says:

      Evan, I am surprised to hear that Garland was/is private land! In my ramble around the island, I certainly saw no evidence – i.e. the remains of any sort of building, private property signs, fences, etc. that would have indicated otherwise. Your comment had me checking out my Franklin, Minks & McCoys map for more info. Here is what I found – “A number of the Mink Islands are privately owned, so please land only on public islands. Private lands should be posted so their status is clear.” A look at the Ontario Govt’s topographical site (see here) with assessment parcel info does not show Garland Island as private property!

      We stopped at the island when we saw that the campsite we were headed to on Elmtree already had a couple of tents.

      I do note that some of the islands in the southern Minks are private and have lodges or camps on them. Heather, Dominion, and Pine all have structures.

      In any case, you must pay a return visit to the Minks and Garland, preferably on some very calm early morning in a sea kayak as opposed to an open canoe!

      It is about six kilometers (one hour of paddling) of open water from Franklin to the Minks and then you’d be set for a few days of hopping from island to island all the way up to the McCoys. From the McCoys you can head back to the mainland making use of a number of islands and eliminating the open-water crossing at the start of the trip. I did the exact trip back in 1989 on my first kayak trip!

      I guess I should warn you that some of the islands are private and should probably not be camped on!


      the two Garland Islands!

      : Evan, it turns out that we are talking about two different Garland Islands! The one you remember is just south of Parry Sound about 40 km. from the one we camped on in the Minks. I should have paid attention to your mention of Hardie Island – and you should have noted my map and our route and not just the name Garland! The satellite image of your Garland shows all sorts of development on the island! Definitely not a place to camp!

      BTW – The Minks/McCoys kayak trip is still recommended!

      Happy paddling…

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