I’ve spent a good portion of my life telling paddlers where to go. So, you might think that after producing almost a dozen guidebooks, countless articles and oodles of videos I’d be able to answer the most common question I am asked: What’s your favorite canoe route?
The answer isn’t as easy as you might think. In my futile attempts I blurt out what’s most familiar to me—Algonquin. Then I reconsider, remembering how scenic Killarney is, and change my answer. Then I remind myself how busy both parks can be and turn to some less traveled wilderness areas: Quetico, Woodland Caribou and Wabakimi. From there I ramble off some lost routes only the die-hards have heard of, such as Kirkpatrick, Chiniguichi, Tatachikapika. But why stick close to home? The list soon includes western rivers—the Milk or Bowron Lakes chain. Then to the east—Kejimkujik National Park.
Before long, I’m mentioning trips to the Scottish Highlands and the Florida Everglades, and the person who asked the question has long since regretted asking it.
It’s like asking a world traveler to choose a favorite destination. I’ve been so many places, and have fond memories on each and every trip. Each route is special—some are more scenic, others are more remote. Some offer something totally unique, like spectacular hiking or amazing fishing, incredible wildlife watching or breathtaking campsites, out-of-this-world remoteness or—I could go on.
Truth is, there’s a simple answer. It’s the answer I gave recently while presenting on Ontario’s top canoe routes at the Mid-West Spring Expo in Minneapolis. A paddler sat in the front row wearing the standard Tilley hat, poised with...