When people think of canoeing or kayaking Vancouver Island, they almost always think of ocean paddling. However, Vancouver Island offers a rich and varied tapestry of freshwater lakes and rivers, often overlooked, which are well worth taking the time to explore. This website is intended to be a guide to the fresh water lakes and rivers of Vancouver Island and the amazing, often world class, paddling opportunities they afford.
I’ve attempted showcase these amazing lakes and rivers in two ways, firstly through our blog posts detailing many of my own paddling experience here on Vancouver Island. Secondly, I’m developing a the Vancouver Island Paddling Directory, listing dozens of freshwater Lakes, rivers and canoe routes. The list of course will never be complete as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of lakes and rivers to explore on this gorgeous island of ours.
Background – A Little About Myself, the Author
Each summer, during my youth, my parents rented a cottage, usually in the gorgeous Gatineau Hills just North of Ottawa. One summer they rented one with a canoe! I’d been in a canoe a few times, but never had access to one of my own, and had been dying to try it. That summer I spent many happy sun filled days paddling the local lakes and rivers and a bond was formed, between myself and canoes, that has now lasted almost 50 years.
Later, as a teenager, I discovered Bill Mason’s amazing Path of the Paddle films. I’ve always credited Bill Mason with teaching me how to canoe, although it was only years later that I got to know the man. I also joined the Macoun Field Club which led me to serious canoe tripping and camping, and a passion for the natural world that is a key part of who I am today.
Durning 1970’s and 80’s interest in recreational canoeing and wilderness paddling reached it’s zenith. Living in Ottawa, I was right in the center of it. I learned whitewater canoeing, paddled fast rivers, explored Algonquin, La Vérendrye , Northern Ontario and Quebec. Moving to Peterborough Ontario, a city long associated with canoes and canoe building, and home of the Canadian Canoe Museum, I studied Wildlife Biology and Environmental Science. I was the only student at the time to keep a canoe on campus, tucked under the back deck of the then Environmental Science Center at Trent University, right beside the Otonobee River.
Graduating university I was offered a summer job with the Canadian Wildlife Service in Yellow Knife where I was to spend the next 6 years. There I got to explore Great Slave lake and all it’s many bays and channels, the unparalleled Yellowknife river, and spend a summer walking the Beaufort coast. Sadly I never got to paddle the Nahani River.
In 1991, I moved to Vancouver Island, probably the most amazing place I’ve ever been privileged to enjoy. Never have I encountered a place with so much natural beauty! The freshwater lakes and rivers are only one small part of the whole that is Vancouver Island, but still the part closest to my heart, and the one I most wish to share with you on this website.
Please enjoy it, be safe, and leave no trace.