The update for the final leg of the trip will be broken into 2 parts:
It took a while to get the last couple of newsletters out because we had to get ourselves and our gear back to Calgary, get somewhat settled back in, Jude started preschool, and Geoff headed back to work. Needless to say, the trip updates took a backseat for a couple of weeks.
In the interest of keeping the update to a reasonable size, I have split the last leg of our trip into 2 newsletters. The big arrival into Quebec City will follow in the next day or two.
At first, we were a little nervous about the huge freighters passing us on the St. Lawrence. Once we realized the wake coming from them was similar to large, rolling ocean swell, we relaxed into “ship watching.” We spent hours talking about what the ships were carrying, where they were going, and what the names mean. Jude thought it was better than TV!
Other Exciting Watercraft
Sights on the St. Lawrence
We were paddling a bend just before Portneuf when we kept hearing the National Anthems of various countries blasted from somewhere. At first, we thought it was coming from the ships themselves, we then figured out that it was coming from shore. Later on, Ben learned from a local that there is a woman watching the ships go by with binoculars – once she can tell which country they are from, she blasts the National Anthem as they pass. It was really neat!
Everyone may be tired of hearing about how much we love our Spirit Sail, however, it is by far, still one of our favourite pieces of equipment. The prevailing west winds helped push us many miles along the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers. We’ve inserted this picture from Isabelle Chartrand because it is one of the very few pictures taken of us with the sail up.
A mast step (mount for the sail) is attached to the thwart. The v-shaped sail is held in place by fiber-glass poles (think tent poles). It is very safe because when the wind is too strong, it will bend forward and “dump” the wind out.
Daily Canoe and Camp Life with Kids
Camping and Canoeing the St. Lawrence Wetlands
The St. Lawrence River is famous for its wetlands. According to Environment Canada, Lac St. Pierre, in particular, is home to the largest concentration of marshes and swamps throughout the St. Lawrence Valley. Sometimes we would have to drag the canoe through the reeds to get to shore. We generally had mucky footing to look forward to after that. It’s beauty makes it all totally worth it!
One of our campsites on Lac St. Pierre quickly turned into a mud-bog after a good, soaking rain.
It may be surprising for everyone to learn that the tides on the St. Lawrence river begin around Trois-Rivieres where they are about 1 feet. In Quebec City, the tides are 20 feet!
Jude is pictured below playing on the beach during high tide near Donnacona:
When we came back the next day to paddle, the tide had gone out….way out!
Friends join us to paddle the homestretch!
We have spent countless days with Ben and Deb Guerard in the wilderness camping and running. We used to train for ultramarathon races by running up and down Rocky Mountain trails on evenings and weekends.
Ben Guerard has been involved in one way or another with every big portage we’ve done. He helped Geoff carry the canoe over the Rockies and flew out to lend a hand for the Grand Portage as well.
We were thrilled when Deb, Ben, and their 3 year old daughter, Alex, decided to fly out to support us on our last leg of the trip. Aside from being tons of fun, they were very helpful and resourceful. They found us places to camp or a B&B to stay in, entertained the kids while we packed and made arrangements for Quebec City, they even alternated hopping in the canoe and paddling with us! What a wonderful way to spend the last week of the trip.
CBC Radio has been a constant companion on our trip from the beginning – we are huge fans. We were honoured when Reg Sherren from the CBC National contacted us about doing a piece on our trip.
We were nervous at the start, but he and Warren (cameraman) turned out to be easy going, great with kids, and a lot of fun. It didn’t take them long to get into the spirit of the trip – they not only helped find us a place to pull off for the night (Jean-Yves and Nicole’s house), they also brought dinner and wine too! We had a lovely evening with everyone. Jean-Yves and Nicole invited us to stay inside where it was warm and dry while it poured rain outside.
Below are the links to the story:
Canada by Canoe – The National by Reg Sherren, introduced by Peter Mansbridge:
Online Extra: The Trouble with Kids – The National:
(pay attention at the end of the clip where Rane offers his thoughts on the trip)
- We were sitting on a bench at the public dock eating ice cream and talking about where we were going to camp for the night. We hadn’t seen any unpopulated spots to camp so far, so we decided to grab dinner at a roadside stand and then continue on. Robert Landreville drove up and started asking people if they were the canoers. His wife, Caroline, had been at the dock earlier with their kids and had spoken with us. He offered to let us camp in his yard. It was only a few minutes paddle away. Robert , Caroline, Paul-Olivier, and Florence were very welcoming. Robert helped unload our canoe, and Caroline showed me where I could bath Rane. Paul-Olivier and Jude played together despite not being able to understand one another – goes to show that playing transcends language barriers!
- Jean-Francois offered us a place to stay that same night, but we decided to take the place nearest because it was getting late. Rita had called him to ask his permission. We really appreciate the offer, as there is nothing worse than being stuck without a campsite.
- Pierre, from Roger Gladu’s outfitters on Ile Saint-Ignace, was very helpful in finding us a place to camp for the night. After we tried in vain to find something around the outfitters, he suggested a place a few kilometres down the lake on an island. His help went one step further – he drove Reg and Warren from CBC back and forth in a boat to our campsite on Ile Dupas so they could get some footage of us setting up camp.
- We didn’t catch their names, but we are grateful to 2 kayakers that answered questions about the stone weir between Ile Saint-Ignace and Ile Ronde. They were right, there was a nice “V” to paddle through safely.
- Jean-Yves Marcotte and Nicole Coutu and their family made our day. It was late and threatening rain when we arrived at their home near Yamachiche, QC. Reg Sherren had knocked on their door asking about places to camp. Reg has great people instincts – he picked the perfect place. Jean-Yves hauled our canoe through the marsh to their lawn then invited us into their home for the night. Nicole took the kids inside to play and eat so that we could actually eat a whole, warm meal without interruption. Only a mother of 3 could understand how much of a gift that is! We had a lovely visit and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. It was as though we had known each other for years.
- La Marina de Trois-Rivieres gave us a great deal on storing our canoe while we had a rest day in Trois-Rivieres. In addition, they also stored our huge pack, lifejackets, and paddles. We really appreciated their help because we didn’t have to worry about our canoe and gear while we were there.
- A nasty headwind that kicked up 3 -foot chop forced us to pull into the beach in front of Odette Desilets house near Donnacona, QC. She was incredibly helpful in offering us a place to store our canoe or even camp for the night. She and her husband, Francois, sent us off the next day with full bellies of homemade soup and sandwiches for lunch.
- Gaston Matte is Odette’s neighbour. He saw that the tide was way out and offered to carry our gear out in his Gator. It saved us a lot of “recreational portaging.” Thank you!