The Ogoki River From Top To Bottom

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 that easier-to-access parks like Quetico and Algonquin do.

Ontario’s Largest Parks By Area – #1-Polar Bear; #2-Wabakimi; #3 Algonquin; #4 Quetico.

This will be our fifth visit to the Wabakimi park area over the past decade. This time our route will take us from the Ogoki River headwaters in Endogoki Lake down to the Ogoki Reservoir. As the map below illustrates, the Upper Ogoki watershed makes up the park’s core.

The park stretches as far east as the western end of the 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 down to the confluence with the Albany River. The dam diverted 99% of the Ogoki’s flow south across the Height of Land to what became the Litle Jackfish River and on to Lake Nipigon and the Great Lakes system.

The trip begins in the rarely (if ever) paddled headwaters section of the river from Endogoki Lake to just below Tew Lake. The initial 40- kilometer stretch of the river is on Crown land west of the boundary of Wabakimi Provincial Park. Recent satellite images and portage information gleaned from

  • Canoe Atlas of the Little North
  • and our Wabakimi Project Volume 1 map set

should see us through the three days we figure it will take us to do this initial stretch of the river.

Wabakimi Project map – portages from Savant Lake To Tew Lake Via Ogoki River

At the other end of the river, we plan to paddle down to the Waboose Dam, walk the portage trail to the bottom, and see how much of the Ogoki now comes down below Waboose Falls. Also on our to-do list are

  • return visits to the Ogoki Lodge and
  • the Beckwith Cabins on Whitewater Lake, as well as
  • a two-day run down the Little Jackfish River, now the Upper Ogoki’s actual outlet.

The Upper Ogoki River – from headwaters to Lake Nipigon

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 NW up to Endogoki Lake just east of Savant Lake.

The rest of August’s weather looks 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 – e.g. 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. The Wabakimi area has so far been spared of any burns of note.

Click on Ontario forest fires and select the interactive fire map for the latest information.

We start our journey down the Ogoki on August 16, a Monday morning.

——————

Update: The following posts provide a day-by-day account of our trip down the Ogoki. To paraphrase Robbie Burns,

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry

And leave us with nothing but grief and pain

Instead of promised joy.

While “grief and pain” may be pushing it, let’s just say that things did not turn out quite the way we had planned. It was still a great trip!

Day-By-Day Reports:

______________________________

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!

A Paddler’s List Of Wabakimi’s Top Six

See the Canoe Tripping folder for lots more on Wabakimi and other canoe tripping possibilities.

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Your comments and questions are always appreciated, as are any suggestions on how to make this post more useful to future travellers. Just drop me a line or two!

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