My brother (and longtime canoe partner) and I are heading back to northwestern Ontario’s Wabakimi area!
The heart of this canoe trippers’ boreal dreamscape is Wabakimi Provincial Park, next to Polar Bear Park the largest in Ontario. It sees a hundredth (if that!) of the canoe traffic than easier to access parks like Quetico and Algonquin do.
This will be our fifth visit to the park over the past decade. This time our route will take us from the Ogoki River headwaters in Endogoki Lake down to the Ogoki Reservoir, the artificial lake created as a result of the completion in 1942 of a massive dam at Waboose Falls that stopped the water from following its natural course to James Bay. What the dam did was divert 99% of the Ogoki’s flow south to the Litle Jackfish River into the Great Lakes system.
One of our goals is to paddle the headwaters section of the river from Endogoki Lake to just below Tew Lake, the initial 40- kilometer stretch of the river which lies on Crown land to the west of the boundary of Wabakimi Provincial Park. We are hoping that fairly recent satellite images and some iffy portage information will help us over the three days we figure it will take us.
At the other end of the river, we hope to paddle up to the Waboose Dam, walk the portage trail to the bottom, and see for ourselves how little of the Ogoki now comes down below Waboose Falls. We also plan a return visit to the Ogoki Lodge and the Beckwith Cabins on Whitewater Lake and a two-day run down the Little Jackfish, now the Ogoki’s real outlet.
We leave tomorrow for the day and a half (and 1800 km) drive up to Mattice Lake, just south of Amstrong Station. That’s where we will have our canoe strapped to one of the pontoons of the De Havilland Beaver that you see below. It is a 90-kilometer flight up to Endogoki Lake.
The weather for the rest of August looks to be excellent for the most part. Here is the Weather Network’s most recent 14-day forecast. We’ll take it!
We plan to cover the 300-kilometer distance in 12 or 13 days. While most of the time we’ll be on the river, the route also includes 40 or so potential portages around rapids and waterfalls. Parts of the Ogoki we have already done on other trips – the stretch from Tew Lake to Whitewater Lake. Other parts will be new and could be challenging depending on water levels. Sunny wind-free days – or days with the wind blowing in the direction we’re headed – would be nice!
An increasing concern over the past few years is the possibility of wildfires thanks to bone dry soil and lightning strikes. The Ontario Govt. Wabakimi has so spared from any burns of note.
If you’re curious about Wabakimi as a canoeing destination, the following introduction to the region may get you to head to the north of Lake Superior too!
See the Canoe Tripping folder for lots more on Wabakimi and other canoe tripping possibilities.