Canoeing Ontario’s Boreal Forests Part 1/2:
Ontario Canada contains some of the most rugged and wild
country on the globe. This area is no place for the inexperienced outdoorsman.
Thousands of square miles of roadless boreal forest, as well as thousands of
interconnected lakes, rivers, and streams make up most of this region. It is
located between the great lakes region of the United States and Hudson Bay.
Ontario is roughly 1, 076, 395 sq. km. (354, 342 sq. mi.). One of the best ways
to experience what Ontario’s boreal forest has to offer is by venturing deep
into the wilderness by canoe. Canoeing into the backwoods with all your camping
gear can be great (You can also consider a kayak or pack-raft depending upon
your desires and preferences). So much of this region is isolated from roadways
that it can be extremely difficult to access. In fact some areas of this region
will contain no roadways at all (Refer to the links below for detailed Ontario
road maps). There are two ways you may want to go about beginning your
adventures in these boreal forests.
- Follow dirt roads into isolated areas until the
roads stop. Drop your canoe at the end of a dirt road in northern Ontario and
you’re sure to be in a remote area. This option will take more time, but will
cost less. There are many isolated dirt roads that few people will travel in
Ontario and starting a journey from there can get an outdoorsman into extremely
- Hire someone to drop you off from a bush plane
into a roadless region. This option will likely be more expensive, but you will
be able to access areas that people may not have visited in decades.
With either of these choices remote backcountry can be
accessed in Ontario. It’s a matter of how much time and money a person chooses
to spend. Regardless of which way you choose to go about accessing this
wilderness, understand that by using a canoe anyone can reach areas that are
virtually untouched. Canoes are light enough and durable enough to carry you
throughout the waterways of Ontario’s backwoods and into some of the wildest
country around. Depending on how much water and ground you plan on travelling,
some canoes may be better than others. For example, if you decide to portage
numerous times, a more lightweight canoe will probably be very important. With
this in mind you will also have to, pack much lighter. If you decide not to
portage much and not across long distances, you can bring a larger canoe and
carry more gear.
Ontario’s woodlands are home to a wide variety of animal species. Among the
vertebrates there are 85 mammals, 481 birds, 23 reptiles, 30 amphibians, and
155 fish species. There are roughly 16,000 invertebrates (insects, spiders,
etc…). About 4,700 species of plant and 1,000 species of fungi and algae also
occur in Ontario. Predators like black bear, wolf, coyote, fox, lynx, fisher,
marten, and wolverine survive in the forests and far enough north polar bears
can be found. These are beautiful animals, but they require respect. These
animals normally pose no threat to humans; however can sometimes be dangerous if
approached to closely. There are also herbivores like moose, caribou, white
tailed deer, beaver, porcupine, and snowshoe hair. Snapping turtles, garter
snakes, and frogs are among some of the reptile and amphibian species. The
massasauga rattlesnake is the only venomous snake that lives in Ontario and is
restricted to the southern portions of the province. These are only a few
examples of the species that occur throughout Ontario.
(This website provides information on all of Ontario’s plant and animal species. Detailed information like number of species, status, taxonomic relationships, and distribution are discussed).
(Primeval Treks photo)(Black bears can be found all
throughout the boreal forests of Ontario).
Depending upon when you choose to explore this region, you can enjoy other
activities aside from canoeing and camping. Due to the amount of natural
waterways in this area, fishing is great. Popular game species like northern
pike, walleye, brook trout, lake trout, and yellow perch can be found through
most of the province. Other popular game species like muskellunge, small mouth
bass, black crappie, and blue gill can be found throughout the southern reaches
of the province.
You may consider either regular spin fishing or fly fishing
in these waters. If you do decide to bring fly fishing equipment, what set up
should you use? It depends on what fish species you are targeting, but a great
sized rod for these waterways would be a 9 foot 6 weight (for example). It is a
heavy enough rod to handle the larger fish species like pike and walleye, but
is a light enough rod to have fun with some smaller fish species like perch and
trout. Depending upon the time of year you take this trip, different flies and
lures may work best for imitating specific insects and bait species. Due to the
large size of some of the fish species in Ontario, you can always have some fun
experimenting with large, bright fly choices. When selecting fishing gear, so
much of selection comes down to personal preference so there is not one rod and
reel set-up that is essential for this trip. With this in mind don’t get too
hooked on specific fishing set-ups. Call and talk to some of Ontario’s guide
services if you aren’t sure what gear to use and what works best during
different times of year.
This can be an added bonus if your trip occurs in the fall. Again, all the water and
woodlands in this area can provide some amazing hunting opportunities.
Especially hunts for migratory birds, grouse, and ptarmigan. There are also
quite a few opportunities to hunt larger game like moose, caribou, deer, and
bear. It’s exciting when your back country canoe trip can include great hunting
and fishing adventures. You need to consider all the laws and regulations if you
decide to bring a firearm on your trip. Depending upon what species you intend
to hunt, you must obtain the proper permits. There may be federal and
provincial permits (Canadian) required depending upon the game species. More
information on hunting can be found at the link provided below.
(Important Information on hunting and fishing in Ontario can be found at this
Part 2: Will be posted within the next few days. It will contain information on Equipment and Navigation.