Northern Waterways Canoe Trips


Legends of the Shield Canoe Trip

Colorful Canadian Shield rock in northern Saskatchewan

Scenic Precambrian rock shoreline in Lac La Ronge Provincial Park

Can you imagine the countless stories bound up in two billion-year-old rock? This rock, the oldest in the world, forms the stage for the breathtaking boreal landscape of the Canadian Shield and for the human drama played out on it for untold centuries. Our 5-day trip follows a historic path down a particularly scenic stretch of the famous Churchill River, travelled by trappers, fur traders, and indigenous people for ages. Here the rocky shoreline outcrops of the Canadian Shield are prominent and imposing and will help establish the aura of this tour.

As we journey down river, you’ll develop or hone your paddling skills and learn how to use a map and compass to navigate between the river’s islands and bays and stay on course in wilderness surroundings. The route presents travel options including paddling tributary streams with portages or establishing base camp and heading out to explore different locations each day. Among the many attractions available are Aboriginal rock paintings and several sets of picturesque waterfalls. Legends of pioneer travellers and campfire tales of voyageur exploits on the rivers of the Shield will round out the evenings.

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Trip tales:
Paddling & Camping in a Group of Seven Painting
Getting into the Spirit of an Untamed Wilderness

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Canoeing & Painting in the Wild

Painting by Nicki Ault

Painting by Saskatoon artist Nicki Ault, “Lost in the World of Birch”. Image copyright Nicki Ault.

If you’re an artist looking for an adventurous outlet for your creative impulses, here’s the trip for you! A secluded wilderness destination in the heart of Saskatchewan’s scenic Canadian Shield country is the base for four days of canoeing, painting, relaxing, swimming, and simply soaking up the wilderness ambiance.

Free your creative spirit in the land that inspired the rock art painters of ancient times. Join in the ageless tradition of open-air painting and leave with a treasured record of your encounter with northern Saskatchewan’s rocky lakes & boreal forests.

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Nistowiak Falls Canoe Tour

Nistowiak Falls on the Churchill River

Spectacular Nistowiak Falls on the Churchill River

Listen to the loons, watch bald eagles soar, feel the spray of mighty Nistowiak Falls and capture the glow of the radiant northern lights — just a few of the natural attractions you’ll encounter on this 8-day wilderness canoe trip in northern Saskatchewan’s Lac La Ronge Provincial Park. Starting at historic Stanley Mission with a visit to Saskatchewan’s oldest church, you’ll paddle the famous Churchill River, view Aboriginal rock paintings, explore a Precambrian cave, portage a scenic series of rapids and falls via a marine rail trolley and navigate the northern reaches of vast Lac La Ronge. The final leg of the journey takes you through a series of small secluded lakes connected by portages and winding water lily-filled creeks. The canoe trip winds up with a return to the mighty Churchill and a paddle into Stanley Mission.

During your week-long paddling odyssey, you’ll benefit from paddling instruction, learn wilderness living skills like how to find your way with map and compass, practise environmental ethics, enjoy hearty meals expertly prepared over an open fire, relax in exclusive pristine wilderness campsites, and listen to tales of the voyageurs.

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Trip tale:
Lac La Ronge Park Paddling Odyssey

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Whitewater Trails of the Voyageurs Canoe Tour

Paull River in northern Saskatchewan

Outlet of the gorge on the Paull River

Be a voyageur for a week and explore part of an ancient fur trading route that starts on the Paull River and continues down the world-renowned voyageur highway of the Churchill River. A short floatplane ride gets the trip started on Paull Lake, near the headwaters of the Paull River. This small river is a remarkably scenic tributary of the Churchill, with beginner to intermediate whitewater challenges, scenic waterfalls, rocky gorges, and fabulous walleye fishing! After honing your negotiating skills on the smaller rapids of the Paull, you are ready to take on the bigger, faster water of the mighty Churchill. During the trip, get acquainted with the colorful rigorous life of the early travelers along this famous waterway. Finish with an adrenalin plunging ride through the big water of Otter Rapids to trip’s end at Missinipe.

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Trip Tale:
Whitewater Trails

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Rock Art & Bannock

Stanley Rapids rock paintings on the Churchill River

A canoe stop at the Stanley Rapids rock paintings

Northern Saskatchewan’s premier heritage river holds the key to mysteries of ancient indigenous cultures. Scattered throughout its 1000 km (600 mi) passage across Saskatchewan’s boreal forest zone, the Churchill River features numerous Aboriginal rock painting sites. The portion of this famous river flowing through Lac La Ronge Provincial Park has a remarkable concentration of rock art, most of which our canoe route touches.

During the 6-day trip, you’ll encounter intriguing red ochre pictographs displaying figures & symbolic visionary messages that have survived the ravages of time for centuries on the rough Precambrian granite of the Canadian Shield. Get acquainted with the mysteries of the paintings’ origins and interpretation. Added attractions along the route include the First Nations Community of Stanley Mission with Western Canada’s oldest 1850’s-era church and Nistowiak Falls, Saskatchewan’s largest waterfall.

Bannock is a traditional food that native people prepared even before early European fur traders modified it with their recipes and language. It has deep roots in Aboriginal cuisine and has become a mainstay of wilderness campfire cooks. Modern-day voyageurs use bannock to fuel their expeditions and so will you!

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Trip Tales:
Peaceful Canoeing, Relaxing Swims & the Best Outdoor Cooking
Outdoor Newbies Discover Fresh Bannock & Awesome Rock Art

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Clearwater River Canoe Tour

Skull Canyon on Northern Saskatchewan's Clearwater River

Upstream view of Skull Canyon on the Clearwater River

This Canadian Heritage River is a wilderness whitewater extravaganza. Along with numerous rapids, chutes, and waterfalls are spectacular canyons and limestone cliffs. The river traverses a remarkable landscape representing features from each of the earth’s major geologic eras – all visible from a canoe. Superb natural campsites and breathtaking photo opportunities are commonplace.

In addition to the ever changing landscape and challenging whitewater, the river has a remarkable cultural heritage. The upper Clearwater retains archaeological evidence of ancient travellers in the form of Aboriginal rock paintings while the lower Clearwater served as the connection between the Churchill and Athabasca waterways during the fur trade era. Part of this link was via the historic Methye Portage, where we hike up to capture the valley vista that 18th century explorer Alexander Mackenzie extolled in his journals.

Wild river travel and safety instruction, plus heritage topics, are part of the program. Previous whitewater experience is required. Float plane transport is included.

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Clearwater geography & history primer 101

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Rock Art Archaeology Camp Canoe Tour

Northern Saskatchewan’s largest Canadian Shield rock art site

Massive Precambrian cliffs provide a spectacular natural gallery for rock art

A 5-day soul-inspiring encounter with ancient culture, heritage and archaeology. Discover Canada’s most impressive display of Canadian Shield rock art — a breath-taking presentation on towering Precambrian cliffs in the remote northern Saskatchewan wilderness. Following a short floatplane flight to base camp, join professional archaeologist Tim Jones, author of The Aboriginal Rock Paintings of the Churchill River, to explore the painting sites by canoe — just as Indigenous artists did centuries ago. In camp, take part in archaeological research and interpretation, listen to legends of the paintings origins and meanings, and learn about ancient hunting and gathering cultures of the area.

During the daily forays to the pictograph sites you will marvel at the immensity and grandeur of the natural surroundings, realizing how it must have inspired the early creators of the enigmatic paintings. It is a powerful and awe-inspiring place. You will leave with an overwhelming sense of connection to the land and its intriguing heritage.

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Media Story:
Deep Secrets on the Cliffs

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