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On this relaxed pace wilderness whitewater river camping trip we will paddle the full Dumoine River, beginning in Lac De Mille. The Dumoine is not only an ideal river for improving your paddling skills, it is also considered one of the prettiest rivers of the Ottawa Valley. The pace of this trip is ideal for the intermediate paddler, and even those new to whitewater. The experienced canoeists will love it as well as there is so much time to enjoy the river and the whitewater. Whitewater experience is not 100% necessary, a strong flatwater background will put you in good stead. We’ll spend lots of time teaching on the river’s class 1 & 2 rapids. We’ll spend some nights camped beside whitewater on some of the Dumoine’s famous campsites. A layover day will be taken next to the spectacular Grande Chute of the Dumoine and perhaps at one other spot.
(Note: this is a suggested itinerary only, conditions on each trip may vary)
We’ll meet at 8:30 am at Noel Le Clerc’s House (our shuttle driver) in Swish and leave your cars here. We will embark on the 4 hour shuttle up logging roads to Lac De Mille. We would hope to be at the put in spot for a late lunch. In the afternoon we’ll head onto and up Lac Demille likely putting in an hour or two of paddling before stopping at a lakeside campsite amongst the pines. We’ll likely also do some paddling stroke review and intro to moving water.
We’ll finish the Lake in the morning and then paddle the small Riviere Du Nord. If conditions allow we may stop at one of the small rapids/swifts that occur in order to practice some basic maneuvers for moving water. It is several km down this swift flowing creek into the Dumoine proper at Lac Brulart. We’ll continue on down to Lac Laforge. We’ll likely set up camp on Lac La Forge.
The remainder of the trip will be spent at a relaxed pace enjoying the beautiful scenery and fun filled whitewater of the Dumoine River
At the end of the lake the day begins with two short portages around spectacular small falls. After a section of swifts we enter into a long complex set of rapids which will likely be portaged completely along the left shore. It is sometimes possible to run a short section in the middle of this complex between two Class 4 rapids, but often we simply portage everything. Lunch will likely had somewhere in this vicinity. After passing underneath an old logging road bailey bridge we will run two lovely long class 1 to class 2 rapids. These offer great opportunities to practice whitewater maneuvers. The river then flows out into Lac Benoit. There are a couple of nice campsites on Lac Benoit.
At the outlet of the Lake is a nice easy set where we will spend some further time practicing and reviewing skills. This is followed by a short liftover around a small falls and then down to Canoe Eater rapid. At Canoe Eater we will get out and scout. Gear is carried around along the 200m portage. Depending on group skill and interest, we may run this R3 rapid empty or we may portage. Camp may be made below this rapids to allow people to run it more than once. Or we may continue on a short bit.
Following Canoe Eater there are a series of enjoyable R2’s and R1’s that go on for many kilometers. We will spend considerable time practicing in these wonderful rapids. This section ends with Little Steel Rapids, a long technical R1-2. We will lunch at a site nestled in the trees next to Little Steel. After Little Steel Rapids, a 300m portage takes us around Little Steel Falls. We’ll camp at the site below the Little Steel Rapids. Again this is a great location to run the rapids below the falls several times. Or maybe you’ll just want to swim in the current at the outwash beside the campsite.
Below the rapids are several miles of swifts and rapids before Burnt Island Lake. Below this lake there are more swifts and then Big Steel Rapids a technical and fun class 2 rapids. We will scout this rapids. It is then several miles of very fast flowing and scenic river travel before Sheerway Lake and the Dumoine Rod and Gun Club. We may lunch at the Margot Spry Shelter near the Rod and Gun Club. Then we’ll continue on thru Shoreway Rapids to Turner Rapids. We’ll set up camp below Turner Rapids. (alternately the group may decide to push on to Grande Chute, setting up beside the falls here in order to make the paddling day to Red Pine easier)
In the morning we will reach the “Grande Chute” where we will have lunch. We will portage the canoes, and gear down to bottom of the carry, and then will take time out here to hike the scenic river trail. Lunch will be eaten on a spectacular site overlooking the impressive gorge and falls. We’ll then continue thru some swifts and across Robinson Lake to Red Pine Rapids. We’ll run some of the top rapids setting up camp at a spectacular site beside the rapids.
R&R day at Red Pine Rapids. Red Pine Rapids is really a complex of 5 individual sets that run together.
Note: Some groups decide to take their layover day earlier at Little Steel Falls, others at the spectacular Grande Chute
This day involves our final day of whitewater. We’ll paddle the final section of Red Pine. Below Red Pine rapids there are several kilometers of swifts and R1 rapids before Examination Rapid. Examination involves a double ledge which can be run but will provide great opportunities to practice some of the skills learned along the way. This represents the last major rapid of the trip. Around the corner from examination is a small falls which we will lift over on the right. This leads into a section of fast current that will bring us to the famous “bald eagle rock”. This is an impressive cliff face that towers above the left bank of the river. Time permitting we may take a hike here. We may set up camp here. Or several more kilometers of paddling brings us to the final short portage of the trip around the frothing 10 foot Bauman Falls. We may also set up camp here.
From the end of the portage it is about 2 hours of paddling out the flooded river mouth and then 30min across the Ottawa River to our pick up spot. We should arrive back at your cars around lunch.
The Dumoine is one of seven wild rivers that flow into the Ottawa River off the southern edge of the Laurentian Highlands. Falling 500 feet in 50 miles, the river descends from Lac Dumoine through an area dominated by a forest cover of black spruce, white and red pine, and pockets of white cedar and white and yellow birch. As the Ottawa is approached on the southern reaches of the river, maples and ash become a more significant part of the forest. The fauna of the Dumoine River Valley includes moose and black bear as well as a variety of smaller mammals such as beaver, muskrat and otter. Fish, particularly pike and pickerel, can be caught along the river. Bass, speckled trout and lake trout live in the deeper pools along the river or a few miles back in the tributaries.
The river has played an important role as a north-south transportation corridor in the economic history of early groups of Canadians. The Hurons and other central Ontario tribes who wished to avoid paying the toll which the Allumette Natives charged for portaging across the island used the Dumoine as an alternate route to the Ottawa River on their way to Montreal. This also allowed the agriculturally oriented Hurons to trade their products with the nomadic Algonquins who inhabited theKipawa and La Verendrye region to the north but who rarely came south for fear of encountering the Iroquois.
During the French domination of the Ottawa Valley trade routes, a French fort was built at the mouth of the river. Undoubtedly the Dumoine Fort was deserted by 1701, when Alexander Henry Sr. passed by on his journey west. The river remained afast route out of the fur country, despite the demise of the French establishment.
Sheerway, halfway down the river, is the site of a number of buildings begun as early as the earlyt nineteenth century when the Hawkesbury Lumber Company began cutting and driving timber on the Dumoine. By 1870 there were 11 ‘stations’ –a station being anything from a dam to a slideway– on the river. Evidence of this prosperous and colourful lumbering activity includes the Sheerway buildings, the dam and log chute at the head of the Dumoine gorge, and the numerous huge white pine stumps along the river. After 1890, the peak of the lumbering in the Dumoine valley passed. In 1918, the Dumoine Rod and Gun Club was established at the Sheerway site, using many of the Hawkesbury company buildings. The main structure, once combination hotel, post office, and homestead became the main lodge of the club.
The set of rapids directly above Sheerway, the “Big Steel”, was the scene of lively competition in the heyday of the timber trade. The entire run from the top of Big Steel to the bridge at Sheerway was known as the “horserace.” The name originated with a challenge between the lumbermen and the Indians. The lumberjacks would race the natives to the bridge from the top of the run, driving their wagons and horseteams while the natives paddled their canoes. History does not record the results.
Further downstream the massive Dumoine Gorge drops more than 150ft in less than a mile as the river plunges through a series of falls and canyons. At the beginning of the 20th century the log chute that descended the gorge was still operational, though deteriorating. The top still exists today upstream of the dam and road and if you walk the scenic gorge trail you can still see remnants of it in other locations. A story is told of a lumberman who was sent on a special mission from Lac Dumoine to the Ottawa River given only two days and one guide to do it. Upon reaching the gorge the lumberman was less than enthusiastic about portaging the rough shore trail and welcomed the guide’s suggestion to run the chute instead. He claimed to have done it several years befor3e with a barrel of pork in his canoe. The first portion was relatively flat, but then the drop off was soon reached. The chute took several turns in the course of its descent. As the two approached, the Indian guide turned to his companion, and pale with fear, advised the lumberman to hook his paddle over the right side and “hold on for dear life”. The next turn had no real left wall and if they could not ride the “right rail” they would be thrown out into the gorge below. Hurtling past this hazard, they reached the bottom, only to have their canoe severely damaged as they exited the chute into mid air a number of feet above the water. The aftermath of the event was an afternoon of canoe repair and late reaching of their destination.
The scenic lower reaches of the river include the “Bald Eagle Rock” a massive formation that springs from the edge of the river and towers 600ft up to a pin -crowned summit. There is one final scenic falls before the Dumoine empties into the Ottawa River. Because of the Dams on the Ottawa at Des Joachims the river is backed up in this section forming a large lake which flooded the lower few km of the Dumoine and allows boats to reach the bottom of the final small falls.
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