The Dumoine is not only an ideal river to learn or practice introductory whitewater skills, it is also considered one of the prettiest rivers in Central Canada.
On this great canoe trip adventure we will travel the most scenic and enjoyable section of the famous Dumoine River. We will spend 4 days (3 nights) on the stunningly beautiful middle and lower river. There is no better way to spend an extended weekend of summer than out camping on this scenic river. This trip is best for intermediate and up paddlers. It is spring and the water is cold. Although the high water will speeds us along quickly the days will still be full with many great class 2 & 3 rapids. The Dumoine in spring is an ideal river to practice your whitewater skills, it is also considered one of the prettiest rivers in Central Canada. Located within easy driving distance of Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal the river is flanked by majestic white pine forests that shelter five star campsites. Combine all this with perfect whitewater for teaching and you have a canoeist’s paradise. Some nights we will camp beside spectacular falls or rapids. This is one of the finest wild rivers in central Canada and our river trip is sure to provide paddling enjoyment for canoeists of all skill levels.
(Note: this is a suggested itinerary only, conditions on each trip may vary)
We will meet in the village of Swisha at our shuttle drivers hous at 8:30am. You will leave your cars here (pick up spot – $20 for parking). After meeting the group we will embark on our trip into the Dumoine River just above Lac Benoit. This van ride should take about 3 hrs. The whole group should be on the river by lunch time. The afternoon will be spent doing an introductory paddling session and safety procedures review in the small pond at the put in. This will be followed by some whitewater paddling review/instruction in the first small rapids that we encounter. The ‘Bridge Rapids’ just below the put are nice easy class 1 to easy class 2 rapids. Camp will be set up either on Lac Benoit or down the river a few km. There are three nice campsites on Lac Benoit. At the outlet of Lac Benoit is another nice easy set we may practice on. We’ll camp in time for people to swim, fish or simply relax before dinner.
The first afternoon and next 2 days we will spend descending the famous rapids of this upper section of the Dumoine making our way toward Grand Chute for mid trip. We’ll reach the Grande Chute on Day 3. It is a stunning place as the Dumoine cascades over several falls and numerous large rapids through a deep gorge. We’ll take the canoes right over the portage and camp in Robinson Lake Below or perhaps continue on to Red PIne Rapids. The fun begins below the Lake with Red Pine Rapids. Red Pine Rapids is really a complex of 5 individual sets that run together. It will take morning to complete these sets, as scouting will be required. 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. Several more kilometers of paddling brings us to the final short portage of the trip around frothing 10 foot falls. From the end of the portage it is about 2 hours of paddling out the flooded river mouth and across the Ottawa River to our pick-up spot. You should be back at your cars around 4 or 5 pm.
* Please note: It’s the nature of remote northern travel that uncontrollable factors like poor weather, pilot judgment, forest fires, and mechanical problems can affect our schedules and cause delays. We regret these situations but cannot accept responsibility for hotels, flight rebookings, and other costs you may incur.
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.