n16_group photo from colleen kenney_web

This photo (taken by Colleen Kenney near Rossport, ON) shows our family in Margo’s Cargo (20 foot Esquif Miramichi) with a North Water spray deck to shed water and wind. Everyone had plenty of room and it handled the chop beautifully.

Trip Stats:

  • # teeth that Jude cut during trip: 5
  • # friends who had babies while we were away: 3
  • *Congratulations to Deb & Ben Guerard, Nichola & Jarrod Harkness, Jenna & Matt Buch
  • # days in a row windbound on Lake Superior: 5
  • # times this happened: 2
  • # bears seen on shore: 1
  • # items lost in lake: 1 (our beloved sponge for mopping out the canoe)

Favourite pieces of gear:

  1. Esquif Miramichi canoe: handled 3 foot chop like a champ – love the way this canoe rides. The best canoe we have ever paddled – by far!
  2. North Water Spray deck: this deck is ideal for big water travel. We felt very safe with it on because it sheds water and wind, and has easy access to gear.
  3. Deuter Comfort III backpack: Jude spent a lot of time in this pack either in the canoe or hiking the trails around camp. He loved it. Even now, he’ll crawl over to the backpack and pull on it because he wants to go outside for walk. He gets very excited when we bring it out.

Media coverage:

2010 07 28 Provost News article

2010 08_The Independent, Biggar, SK

July 16 – July 18, 2010 – Thunder Rapids Campground, Saskatchewan River – Rene and Solomon Carriere’s Cabin on the Saskatchewan River, SK

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Jude is ready for his first canoe trip on the Saskatchewan River. It was really hard to keep hats on him because he kept taking them off to play with them.

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The bugs were thick but manageable when we set off from Tobin Lake, SK. We paddled 46 km to the Carriere’s camp on the Saskatchewan River delta. Saskatchewan had a very wet spring, and that meant more standing water in the delta than usual. Solomon Carriere, who has lived there since 1958, said that the bugs are usually bad at this time of year; but he could only remember 3 particularly bad years…and this is one of them! While Geoff and I can handle the bugs they proved too much for baby Jude, despite our very best efforts. We had a net to go over him (pictured above) and a bug shelter, but we just couldn’t keep the mosquitoes at bay. We were perplexed but felt that pressing on wouldn’t be fair to Jude.

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Pam is wearing the “Susie Bug Net” with Jude in the backpack. We got the idea from Cliff Jacobson’s canoeing books. His wife, Sue Harings, came up with the design and Allyson (Pam’s Mom) made it for us. It was invaluable.


We decided that the marshes would be better paddled in the shoulder season when the water level and the bugs are lower. So we packed up and headed for Lake Superior instead.

Renee and Solomon Carriere were kind enough to let us hitch a ride with them to Cumberland House, SK. We’ll return to finish this section of the trip another season.

July 25 – September 1, 2010 – Nipigon – Wawa, ON on Lake Superior

What a summer in northern Ontario! A dry spring meant very few bugs, and an unseasonably warm summer meant that Lake Superior reached the warmest temperature on record (according to locals).

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Lake Superior has many different types of beaches to camp on. We camped on rock (not great for Jude’s face-plants), pebbles (have to make sure he doesn’t eat any of them), and sand (gets everywhere!).

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Geoff built a lot of creative windbreaks to keep the fire going. Taq found his own dens where he could stay out of the wind and still see everything that is going on (you can see his head in the bush in the left picture.)

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When possible, we would camp on sand because it was softest for Jude to play in. The lake was incredibly warm this year – 17 degrees – this made for some great swimming.


Fog would roll in out of nowhere at times. Luckily, we carry topographical maps and a GPS. The wind comes up quickly too. 12 foot waves are awesome to watch – from shore! The transition to fall on Lake Superior brings unstable weather, and unstable weather is windy. It was only safe for us to paddle 3 of the last 14 days.


We spent 5 days waiting for the waves to decrease enough for us to get out of the beach at Cascade Falls. In the end, we put the canoe on 3 logs; and then loaded Jude, Taq, and our gear. We observed the frequency of the waves to predict when a small set were coming in. Once the largest set had passed, we rolled the canoe on the logs into the water and jumped in as if we were a bobsled team!

The transition to fall on Lake Superior brings unstable weather, and unstable weather is windy. It was only safe for us to paddle 3 of the last 14 days.

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We ate lunch in some beautiful spots. It would give everyone a chance to stretch their legs and burn off some energy (mainly the non-paddlers…)

Camping with Jude

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A fleece blanket and an umbrella made a good portable change table to beat the unrelenting sunshine. Jude was happy as long as he had his tube of sunscreen to play with.

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Jude loved bathing in the portable tub Renee Carriere gave him, however, he soon figured out that it was even more fun to push on the edges and let the water out. Note the cloth diapers hanging on the tent in the background – Pam lasted a week washing and hanging diapers. It just took too much time in an already full daily schedule (especially if there was any rain.)

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Who wants toys when you have kitchen utensils, dry bags and firewood to play with?

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Despite being outside all day, every day, we managed to keep the sun off Jude with an umbrella, sunscreen, and a sun hat. He wore the sunglasses twice – after that he would take them off and chew on them. Soon he was also throwing around the umbrella for entertainment as well!

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The canoe doubled as the perfect slide.

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In this photo, Jude is just about too big for the tub – that doesn’t stop him from having a good time though.

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All those new teeth meant a lot of drooling. Luckily, Grandma made his shirt out of quick dry material. We couldn’t do much about the sandy goatee he grew whenever he played in the sand.

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We made a playpen out of gear to prevent any solo trips to the lake. This only worked for a short time until he began to crawl and/or pull stuff out of his way.

Where do we all sit in the canoe?

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We generally tried to begin paddling around Jude’s nap times. Then we’d stop for lunch and a swim or play on the beach. Jude sat in an external frame Deuter backpack (thanks Wendy & Matt!) with a fleece blanket over the top to provide him with more shade.

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When Jude got tired of his seat, he would sit in the bow we me while Geoff paddled. He loved to bang on the spray deck and watch for birds. Seagulls were his favourite – he’d point and wave his arms in excitement.

Yes…we all slept together in the tent!

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Sleeping together in a tent took some practice. Jude liked to explore (read: take apart) everything in the tent when he didn’t want to go to sleep. We learned to put everything away. Despite our best efforts to keep him contained to his half of our 3-person tent, we still found him in a different area each night after he fell asleep.

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Taq would often sleep next to Jude in “his room” aka the vestibule.

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Occasionally, Jude would fall asleep while we were transitioning either to or from the canoe. We’d lay him under the umbrella on top of a groundsheet and bundle him up according to the weather.

Feeding Jude was a continual learning process:

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Nursing Jude was great because whenever he was thirsty I could just pull up a piece of beach and feed him.

It was a little more challenging during meal times. We really wish we’d brought some sort of seat for him to eat in because it was difficult to feed him dinner without him getting distracted and trying to crawl away. An apple would keep him interested for a while, but when we were giving him supper, our laps became the high chair.

Farewell to our website sponsors Glenn & Mary Fidler of Regenesis Holistic Inc.

Glenn & Mary have supported our trip since 2006. It all started with a phone call to them to place an order for vitamins. We complimented them on their website and mentioned that we were beginning to build our own for our upcoming trip across Canada. The conversation expanded and before we knew it, they were offering to host our website!

They have spent countless hours designing the site, sending out newsletters, tracking down news articles, and answering e-mails without taking a single cent for payment. We have been truly blessed to have them behind us for all these years.

This winter they will be semi-retiring by closing their store in Comox, BC while continuing with their online business. As a result, they will no longer be hosting our website. They have graciously offered to help us transition to a new provider.

We wish them a happy and healthy retirement. We are incredibly grateful for everything they have done for us.

Thank  you to the following people:


Thank you to the following people:

  • Bob & Katy MacDonald (Geoff’s parents) helped us a great deal. Bob did a lot of driving – Winnipeg, MB to Nipawin, SK and back; Orillia, ON to Wawa, ON and back (twice!) They both checked the forecast numerous times for us after our radio quit working. While we were paddling they installed hitch racks on our Toyota to make tying the canoe onto it easier.
  • Allyson & Pak Wong (Pam’s parents) were a big help again in helping us prepare for this season. It is very difficult to find good outdoor clothing for infants. After a visit to an outdoor fabric store in Calgary, Allyson sewed a whole bunch of technical clothes for Jude such as fleece sleep sacks, quick-dry onesies, fleece overalls etc. The “Suzy Bug Net” (as described in Cliff Jacobson’s canoeing books) was an invaluable item for us in buggy Saskatchewan. We can’t even begin to imagine how miserable Jude would have been without it. Pak drove all the way to Cumberland House, SK to drive us back to Provost to prepare our route change.
  • David, Paige and Andrew Hinton drove all the way from Winnipeg, MB to Tobin Lake, SK to help Bob MacDonald ferry our car.
  • Kevin Hutchison gave us some valuable information about Lake Winnipeg and also forwarded our food boxes to Geoff’s parents
  • Gary Simon of Thunder Rapids Lodge & Campground gave our gear a ride down to the boat launch. It saved us many hours of portaging in the bugs. Geoff was eaten alive when he carried the canoe down the previous evening.
  • Solomon and Renee Carriere provided a safe haven out of the bugs on the Saskatchewan River. We stayed in one of their cabins the night before we pulled of the river to go to Lake Superior. If they hadn’t towed our canoe out behind their boat, it would have taken us another whole day to paddle out in the bugs. They also gave us a soft sided water carrier to bath Jude in. He had many baths in it along Lake Superior.
  • Ben & Deb Guerard checked in on our house all summer. In addition, Ben was able to find our maps for Lake Superior and overnight them to us.
  • Howie Chaboyer of Nipigon, ON shared his local knowledge of Lake Superior with us: good beaches for camping, pictographs, and tricky areas such as shallow areas and cliffs.
  • Colleen Kenney and Laurie Halonen made our lives a whole lot better when they gave us a ride to town to buy disposable diapers and fresh food. We washed Jude’s diapers in her washer and hung them up to dry for the last time. It was wonderful to enjoy a beer on their beautiful deck overlooking Rossport. Colleen took some great pictures of all of us leaving in the canoe. Thank you!
  • The Voyageur Hiking Trail Association has done a wonderful job in building and maintaining the Voyageur Hiking Trail along parts of Lake Superior. We enjoyed camping at the beaches along the trail because picnic tables (thanks to the Casque Isles Hiking Club) are such a luxury!
  • Wendy Harrison (Pam’s sister) checked the forecast for us numerous times when our radios weren’t working. She also ordered and shipped us a new backpack (one of the main buckles broke) and sleeping mats (one kept deflating overnight) when ours gave out. She loaned us their Deuter external frame backpack. We don’t know what we would have done without it!
  • We met Ralph and Wendy Roberts and Laura and Oliver Bowen near their cabin on Santoy Bay. After giving us some delicious chocolate muffins, they invited us to their cabin for a delicious breakfast of waffles, bacon and orange juice.
  • Tammy & John Gillespie of Neys Lunch & Campground were wonderful. They gave us a ride to pick up our gear, a ride to town to re-supply, loaned us towels to have a shower, and even gave us a ride back to our canoe on Lake Superior. It would have taken us a whole extra day to resupply in Marathon if they hadn’t helped us out.
  • Mary Pruitt & Jim Kilpsof Minneapolis, MN were very gracious in allowing us to store our canoe at their campsite while we re-supplied at Neys Lunch & Campground.
  • It was our pleasure to host two kayakers, Dr. Milvi Tiislai and Dr. Andrew Gloster for a few hours at our campsite on the Coldwell Peninsula. We had a nice visit over bannock and a couple of mugs of tea.
  • It was a pleasure meeting Gerald Lone Lightning at Hattie Cove at the entrance to Pukaskwa National Park. His warm wishes left a lasting impression as we paddled out in the fog.
  • Bruce Johnson and his crew made our day on the White River when they gave us 4 ice cold beer and some fresh cucumbers. What a treat!
  • We are grateful to Ms. Goodchild for leaving her cabin open to travellers. From the look of the guestbook, many people have enjoyed her wonderful hospitality.
  • At Cascade Falls on Lake Superior we met 4 kayakers from Ann Arbor, MI: Jeff Friedman, Sam Boughton, Zack Myers and Patrick Hopps. It was great to share a beach with people who also have such a passion for wilderness tripping. Good luck in your studies this year!
  • Naturally Superior graciously stored our canoe at their home base at Rock Island Lodge while we re-supplied in Wawa.

Where do we go from here?

It was a short season this year, but it was good to be out in warm weather for our first time with Jude. We will be working in Calgary again this winter until we head out again next summer. We’ll keep you all posted. Again, thank you very much for the many e-mails and letters of support. They mean a great deal to us. Have a great winter everyone!

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2 Responses to Newsletter #16 Route change from Saskatchewan River, SK to Lake Superior, ON Saskatchewan River to Lake Superior, ON July 16 – September 1, 2010

  1. James says:

    This is simply amazing! What an adventure you must have had.
    I was wondering if you can recall your exact GPS coordinates when you were beached on lake Superior and the waves were holding 12″ ?
    I am planning a similar adventure around Ontario.



    • The MacDonalds says:

      Hi there James,

      I don’t have access to the exact GPS coordinates right now, however, I remember the place well: Cascade Falls in Pukaskwa National Park. Beautiful spot.

      Have a wonderful trip!

      Pam & Geoff

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