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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. 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.
This easy adventure canoe trip is geared for the intermediate and less experienced paddler. While whitewater experience is helpful, it is not necessary—a strong flatwater background will put you in good stead. For those who want we can spend lots of time teaching on the river’s enjoyable class I and II rapids. 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)
Day 1: 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.
Day 2: Today we will truly begin the descent of the river. The day and the rest of the trip will be spent enjoying the beautiful scenery and fun filled whitewater of the Dumoine River. There are two nice easy class 1 rapids to warm up on and then a larger class 2 which we will scout, depending on water level and group skill we may run this or line the canos down with ropes as almost immediately below we will encounter a beautiful small falls. This is very pretty spot. We will lift the canoes around this falls and then continue down 500m to the 1st big rapids of the trip…”canoe eater” rapid. At canoe eater we will get out and scout. Depending on group skill, interest, and time, we may spend some time scouting and running this R3 rapid empty. We usually carry the gear along the 500m portage. Following ‘canoe eater’, there are a series of enjoyable R2’s and R1’s. Little Steel Rapids is a long technical R1-2. There is a beautiful campsite right beside these rapid, amongst some towering deciduous trees. We may set up camp here or continue on down 500m to Little Steel Falls. This is bypassed by a 300m portage and there is a nice campsite at the end of the portage. Again the campsite is perched right beside the rapids that occur below the falls. There are great swimming opportunities from the campsite.
Day 3: We may spend some time running the lovely rapids that occur at the outwash of Little Steel Falls before heading off downstream. Down the river, there are several swifts and rapids before Burnt Island Lake. Below Burnt Island Lake there are more swifts as well as the Big Steel Rapids before Sheerway and the Dumoine Rod and Gun Club. We will lunch in this pretty section of the river. There are many high hills and cliffs in this section. Big Steel rapids itself is an enjoyable class 2 rapids followed by 5km of twisting very fast flowing river as we descend out into Sheerway Lake. After Sheerway we will paddle through some beautiful widenings in the river as well as the enjoyable Shoreway and Turner Rapids. ]In the afternoon we should reach the “Grande Chute” in time for us to hike the scenic river trail. We will likely set up camp on a spectacular site overlooking the impressive gorge and falls (or alternately may proceed down to Lac Robinson.) At the gorge the river plunges over several spectacular waterfalls and down churning large rapids. There are two lovely campsites, one overlooking the largest of the falls and the other beside a large class 4 chute. Both are fantastic.
Day 4: In the morning, we will carry the rest of our gear from the campsite down to the bottom of the portage (500m). Below there are several easy R1 rapids before Robinson Lake. 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 us some time to complete these sets, as scouting will be required. Depending on group interest there is often time to practice and run some of the rapids more than once. Red Pine gets its name from the stunning Red Pines that line the river along this section. We will likely make camp near the last of these rapids. There are several sets along the banks in the 2nd half of the rapids and at the bottom.
Day 5: This day involves our final day of whitewater and the end of the trip. Below Red Pine rapids there are several kilometers of swifts and R1 rapids, once again the scenery is stunning. We then reach Examination Rapid a double ledge. Examination provides a great final opportunity 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 500ft above the left bank of the river. Time permitting, we may take a hike here. Several more kilometers of paddling brings us to the last 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 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 a fast 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 horse teams 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.