Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CARSON LAKE - Finding Sleeping Bear Rock

I headed out for a short canoe trip with just Alexander, down the lake along the shore and the old Ottawa, Arnprior, and Parry Sound railway line, just for a bit of fun. An interesting little trip it was, as we encountered a boat with four divers in scuba gear beginning a one hour search of the lake just below a large boulder railway embankment, at the bottom of which (as legend has it) lie the entombed remains of a short freight train! Having paddled the area numerous times, I have never seen rotting railcars peering from the murky depths, but one of the divers was insistent that he saw such a thing while paddling in the area a number of years back.

Further along, Alexander and I made our turn around at 'Sleeping Bear Rock', a near 100 tonne boulder that closely resembles a napping black bear cub!

Monday, August 30, 2010


Monday following our short trip on the York, Rudi and I abandoned Alexander with mommy and headed out to the Burnt Bridge Road put-in, this time heading north along the Little Mississippi and into the Conroy Marsh. Total trip time was roughly two hours paddling, with a fifteen minute break exploring a point with a couple of rock ringed firepits, Rudi excitedly proclaiming there to be an abundance of minerals, including quartz, mica, and fools gold present in some of the rocks. 

Noodling down the Little Mississippi. The main channel generally is about 75' to 150' wide, in a wider wetland from 300' to 500' or wider here

The channel widens out, and the opening of the Marsh appears. The long line of hills trends to the Northwest, leading the marsh to its outlet in Negeek Lake near Combermere

Another view of the opening into the Conroy Marsh. Around the small headland on the right, the marsh opens up to roughly two or threee kilometres wide

Once again we played leapfrog with a pair of Great Blue Herons, and this time I was able to shoot one... Finally!

Sedge Bending! The term courtesy Richard Powell, author of "100 Lakes On Vancouver Island", click to visit his absolutely stunning blog!

Almost back to the put-in, the Burnt Bridge Road bridge over the river is just visible, as well as the trusty Ford Freestar!

Yes, the little (big) kid does paddle a bit! A well graded boat launch we used for our put-in is directly ahead of the canoe

Sunday, August 29, 2010

THE YORK RIVER - Back to the 'Hunt Camp on York'

After returning toward our put-in, we stopped to chat again with Gus Zylstra who we met on the way out. Gus owns a house and some rental properties in the area, and is also owner of Pinecone Publishing, the complany that publishes The Country Connection, an awesome little magazine covering country and cottage life, especially local to Eastern Ontario 

Gus and friend (oops forgot to ask her name) at the Pinecone Forest

A much needed break

Saturday, August 28, 2010

THE YORK RIVER - Conroy Rapids

After passing our put-in and continuing downstream, we caught a pair of kaykers exploring the shoreline, and eventually rounded a corner, hearing the unmistakable roar of rushing water. Not a really load roar, but these rapids only drop the river about five or six feet vertically over a hundred yards or so. We noodled about above the rapids for a few minutes, testing the flow, and getting a few photographs, then headed back upstream toward the put-in.

Approaching the Conroy Rapids

These two look bored, not terrified!

Another view of the raging torrent!

Friday, August 27, 2010

THE YORK RIVER - 'Hunt Camp on York' to Slabtown

Slabtown Ontario is home to approximately three-fifths of one one-millionth of the population of Canada, so it is unmarked on any maps, and the average person has a better chance of winning the Lotto Max Jackpot than of ever accidentally wandering into this little town.

Rudi, Alexander, and I found it by following the old 517 from Combermere, the Boulter Road, Rivercrest Drive, and finally an old MNR track barely suitable for passage by the van. A few hundred metres from where we parked, we found a suitable put-in at a clearing with a small hunt cabin, and then headed east along the York to the Boulter Road Bridge in Slabtown.

Gearing up on the old MNR track

Passing a Cottage on the South Bank of the York

The Boulter Road Bridge at Slabtown

Returning past our put-in at the Hunt Camp on York

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I came across this in the Waterloo Region Record a couple of days ago. It struck me not only for the theme, but also the beautiful simplicity in which the notice was written. And yes, it brought a few tears to my eyes. Why not select "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight" (The Beatles), song number 6 on the Popup player above, and read the following quote...
"With one silent Canadian J - stroke, Barb has propelled her canoe away from the shore and is paddling off on her next journey guided by another hand."

For the full obituary, please click here.
Barbara Lynn MacDonald 1954 - 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Got to the cottage Friday evening after a fairly efficient drive via the 407, Port Perry, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon and bypassing Bancroft on South Baptiste Lake Road. I have never actually been through Bobcaygeon before! Didn't see much, probably a bit overhyped like many of these rustic little "cottage country old money" towns (of which Barry's Bay is not one!). The next day I assembled the bunk beds, mowed the lawn, had fun with an Eastern Milksnake and inspected the shoreline for a washed up body.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


This one hits close to home, as the search is being conducted as I type this on the lake our cottage is located on, Carson Lake, 'our' lake if you will. Please don't think I am callous for suggesting the missing man is dead, but if a canoeist goes missing like that, it is more than likely he has ended up drowning:


Alexander ('number last', our two year old) booted me out of bed about 4 am, I couldn't sleep, so did a bit of surfing and found this documentary, a magnificent and honest portrayal of the challanges faced by a group of women (breast cancer survivors) participating in an epic canoe race. Skip that silly re-run of 'The Mentalist' and instead watch this:

Monday, April 19, 2010


From today's edition of our pretty gosh-darn-good mid-market circulation daily, The Record (formerly the Waterloo Region Record, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, etc.) comes this nice article about what students do!

Link will open in this window, click the return arrow to get back to The Accidental Canoeist. Read and enjoy!

Friday, April 16, 2010


There were a few abandoned canoe shells in some kind of potentially recoverable condition stored outside the 'factory' when I started helping out last year, so when Jeff did an 'inventory' of all the canoes that never made it out of the shop for some reason or other last fall - mostly 'cosmetic defects', a few 'demonstrator boats', and the odd prototype, we decided to salvage as much as we could to avoid taking anything to the dump.

Here is a perfect example. A three year old carbon kevlar shell that had blown away just after the top was cut off, and suffered from some minor structural and major cosmetic damage. I found a buyer, a friend who absolutely needed a half decent canoe that was as light as reasonably possible, yet didn't want to drop the two to three grand typically spent on a lightweight canoe. A fantastic structural repair and interior paint job by Jeff, a decent set of used gunwales, and all new interior fittings installed by me, resulted in a tough, durable carbon/kevlar boat with a final price tag of $700 and a weight of just 42.5lbs. Sweet!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I battle the symptoms of depression and post traumatic stress disorder by doing many things to exercise both my mind and body, generally (but not always) with reasonably successful results. Twenty years ago my doctor prescribed Tricyclic Antidepressants and a copy of a book titled 'Feeling Good' by Dr. David Burns. The drugs busted me out of my erratic sleep wake cycles, and the book gave me great ideas for self-treatment using cognitive therapy. But winters can be pretty brutal, and dealing with complete raving idiots (a former employer, no one mentioned in this blog, at least not yet!) can make it even worse. I sometimes have a bit of fun playing with new lyrics to songs that for some reason jump to mind.

(With apologies to Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starr)

I rode my bike today oh boy,
Down a long abandoned railway track,
And then a quiet country road,
To the place I honed my craft.
Still figuring bow from aft.
Pulling boats out from the moulds,
With long sleek lines the way the're meant to be.
The wake cuts mirrored glass in two,
A gorgeous place seen before,
I wasnt really sure if I would ever see it anymore.

I caught a clip today, oh boy,
A Princess Pat killed by an IED.
A crowd of people lined the bridge,
But I couldn't bear to stay,
Having watched the play.
I'd love to turn you on...

Woke up, got out of bed.
Chose not to drag a comb across my head.
Found my way downstairs and brewed a cup.
And looking up, I heard a baby chirp.
Found an outfit, a cute little hat, changed his bum, in seconds flat.
Fixed number one a lunch with healthy snacks,
And took the little one for a run across the town.

Ahhhh ahh ahh ahhhh ahh ahh ahhhhhhhh...
Ahhhh ahh ahh ahhhh ahh ahh ahhhhhhhh...

I read the news today, oh boy,
Four thousand hectares to print The Post this year.
And though the trees were rather small,
They had to pulp them all.
Now they know how many trees it takes to print no news at all.
I'd love to turn you on...

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I got in to help Jeff with some work this week, and he brought me up to date on some new developments and situations that he gets to 'look forward' to dealing with. One of these is the fact that the supplier of his aluminum gunwales went bankrupt in November, and now he has to find a new supplier. Fortunately, of the three gunwales he uses, he has enough stock to build about seventy boats or more, but he is running low on the light profile gunwales for our superlight kevlar, carbon, and helium canoes.

The dies to produce each gunwale cost roughly $3000 each, and even though he pays for them to be made, he never actually owns or possesses them, and now they are sitting in a closed factory in London, in bankrupty proceedings, and shut down by the CAW. So not much to be done except bite the bullet and go to a new supplier, pony up the cash, and get the 'dies' rolling again.

I told Jeff I would do a bit of investigating, to see if I could find out if the dies could be bought off the bankrupt company, and provided to the new manufacturer, so as to save the expense of another ten grand, as no one other than us has any use for them. In starting my research, I found a couple of little tidbits of information, which once again pissed me off, and if there is one thing sure to do that, it is the 'business practices' (I use the term loosely) of the People's Republic of China.

Recently the Canada Border Services Agency issued a report concerning the Dumping of aluminum extrusions exported from the People's Republic of China. Essentially, virtually all the Chinese exporters of aluminum extrusions were found to be dumping (selling significantly below the actual cost of production) their product on the Canadian Market. Unfortunately, this is typical business practice for the Chinese, as there is probably nothing that you can buy that at one point or another has been dumped into our Country, from bicycles to toasters, to shoes and underwear, and now aluminum extrusions!

To keep it brief, China is a country rife with corruption, which endorses unethical and immoral business practices, supports widespread industrial espionage, illegally subsidizes and dumps goods on other countries, unfairly manipulates its own currency (not to mention supports the murder of its own citezens to supply demand for organ transplants to wealthy westerners). And they even help put Canadian manufacturers of top quality aluminum gunwales out of business.

If you have a choice, buy Canadian; If you can't do that, buy North American; If that is impossible, buy from the EU; failing that, try the emerging Eastern European nations, South America, the Caribbean, Pacific Rim countries like Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia; and finally, if you can't get what you want made anywhere else in the world, buy Chinese.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I found the link to this video a short while back on the Canadian Canoe Routes Forums website. You can click play and watch it here, or visit the This Is Canoeing 'YouTube' web page. I think it's plain to see why I am eager to get back in the shop working for Jeff (H20 Composites Inc.) and can't wait for the arrival of spring! There is some incredible photography here, and for those who thought canoing just meant one thing, here is an example of the incredible diversity of Canoeing styles!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


So if you are ever interested in spending a week at a really great little cottage near several of the more underused gateways to Algonquin Park, just check out the following link:

For some of you, it might look familar, for others, it is our cottage near Barry's Bay. If you are interested in helping us cope with a 145% municipal tax increase over a four year period, just let me know!


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