Canoeing and Painting in the Wild – Northern Saskatchewan Canoe Trip

Francis Hopkins voyageur camp painting

Francis Hopkins 1871 painting of a voyageur encampment (source credit: wikimedia)

Canoeing and Painting in the Wild – Lac La Ronge Provincial Park

Trip Overview

Saskatchewan rock art of female figure

Extremely rare female figure in Canadian Aboriginal rock art from northern Saskatchewan depicting a dangerous woman with sharp elbows in Dene mythology (©canoeski)

Canoeing and painting have a noteworthy connection in Canadian history. Painted via birchbark canoes, ancient Aboriginal rock art sporadically adorns the waterways of the Canadian Shield. Ancient means some have been dated back to over 1000 years and are likely the first artwork to appear in what is a well-established tradition of “plein air” painting.

Moving forward to more “modern” times, we see Francis Hopkins accompanying voyageurs in their big Montreal canoes in her fur trade paintings. In the early twentieth century, Tom Thomson of the famous Group of Seven landscape artists even produced a few paintings of the canoe that he paddled on his painting excursions in Algonquin Park  In our own generation, we have witnessed canoeing gurus like Bill Mason highlighting canoeing and wilderness landscapes in his paintings and film documentaries.

This exciting, new (as of 2013) 4-day canoeing and painting program is designed in keeping with that glorious tradition of wilderness plein air painting. The home base for the trip is a small, secluded family camp on a small remote lake in northern Saskatchewan’s stunningly scenic Canadian Shield country – a landscape that begs for the touch of an artist’s brush from every vista! It is a short canoe trip through three small lakes and 2 short portages to reach base camp. There we have rustic but comfortable cabins with kitchen, living and sleeping quarters with running water and an outdoor privy. One larger cabin with living room and deck offers space to paint “indoors” if rain interferes with travelling beyond the confines of camp.

We will take short forays daily by canoe to explore and get set up at sites on the lake offering prime wilderness painting potential. The breath-taking beauty of the area lies in the rugged Precambrian landscape, but also the small protected lakes allow beginner canoeists to enjoy paddling without getting stressed by difficult weather.

If artistic endeavours get too intense, relief is available in diversionary pursuits at the camp, like just relaxing, fishing, or swimming in the pristine, fresh lake waters!

Bill Mason red canoe painting

Master canoeist, artist, author and filmmaker Bill Mason’s painting of his famous red canvas cedarstrip canoe. Image copyright The Mason Family. Prints available from the Mason Galleries.

Trip Details
Duration: 4 days, 3 nights
Scheduled Dates: Aug 8 – 11, 2024
Custom departure dates for groups can be arranged.
Geographic Area: Lac La Ronge Provincial Park, northern Saskatchewan, Canada
Nearest Community: La Ronge
Paddling Venue: Lake & river flatwater
Adventure Rating: Novice – a modest degree of fitness and upper body conditioning will help prepare you for paddling and portaging
Minimum Age: Recommend 14
Paddling Distance: Variable – daily distances will be short overall (6 – 10 km)
Accommodation: Semi-modern cabins
Price per Person: $1265 plus 5% GST

Booking Info

Canoeing and Painting on Sulphide Lake

(L-R) Nicki, Erica and Jane engaged in plein air painting about a 4 km paddle from base camp on Sulphide Lake  (©canoeski)


Day 1 will involve travelling by passenger van from Saskatoon to WadinBay on Lac La Ronge (about a 4.5 hr drive), where we’ll stop for a picnic lunch. Then after a short drive to Lynx Lake, we’ll launch on the canoe trip to Rainbow Ventures Camp. The canoeing trip involves crossing three small lakes connected by two short portages to reach the camp on Sulphide Lake. Once there we’ll settle in and if there’s time after supper and weather is cooperative, we can explore some of the painting sites near camp.

Day 2 – Day 3 Both days will be spent canoeing to various spots that allow for painting set up. The relative amount of canoeing and painting will be variable depending on weather, preferences of the group, energy levels, etc. Time in camp will also be available for other activities such as swimming, hiking, and fishing or simply relaxing and soaking up the wilderness ambience.

Day 4 After breakfast we’ll pack up, load the canoes and paddle and portage our way back toward the Lynx Lake landing. En route we’ll stop on the lake for our last picnic lunch in the wild.  After loading the van, we’ll exchange our paddles for wheels and hit the road for home. A stop for a restaurant supper in Prince Albert will get us back into Saskatoon by early evening.

View From the Canoe, painting by Nicki Ault

“View From the Canoe, Sulphide Lake” by Saskatoon artist Nicki Ault, a painting inspired by the Canadian Shield landscape she encountered on the 2013 Canoeing and Painting trip. Nicki’s exquisite paintings can be viewed at her on-line gallery (©Nicki Ault).

Package Includes:

  • Canoeing and safety equipment
  • Waterproof packs for personal items & clothing
  • Semi-modern cabin accommodation
  • All meals while on the canoe trip (restaurant meals en route excluded)
  • Certified canoeing instructor/guide
  • Return transportation by passenger van from Saskatoon

Prices shown in Canadian Dollars; applicable taxes extra. Advance booking required.
To book your space on this trip, please see Registration

Click here to view a trip poster or to share it with friends.  

Packing List, Liability Waiver and Detailed Trip Info – contact Cliff Speer 306-653-5693 or

Canoeing and Painting in the Wild August 15-18, 2013 Photos

The Canoeing and Painting in the Wild trip attracted an enthusiastic group of Saskatchewan artists for its debut run in northern Saskatchewan’s Lac La Ronge Provincial Park. The rugged beauty of the Canadian Shield and a canoeing adventure were the drawing cards in this exciting new program, outfitted and led by CanoeSki’s owner/guide Cliff Speer and assistant guide Lori Mack. The appeal of art and adventure has drawn Canadian artists into the wilderness for ages. Our group was simply following a well trodden path!

The 4-day trip began with a canoeing excursion to base camp on a secluded lake in the provincial park. The adventure component escalated dramatically when our group was confined to the final portage by an extremely violent thunderstorm. The powerful winds began blowing trees down onto the portage trail, one of which grazed Lori’s head and struck her arm as it crashed to the ground! Fortunately, no serious injuries occurred, but it was more adventure than we had bargained for! Storm over, we paddled a calm lake to the camp. The remaining 3 days were “picture perfect” – calm, sunny and warm, a veritable canoeists’ and painters’ paradise. Discover how idyllic it turned out to be and some of the artwork it inspired in the slides that follow! (photo credit/copyright indicated in slide Notes)

Note: A larger format and/or full layout version of the Canoeing and Painting slide show can be viewed in Flickr where the master file is located.

Get the flash player here:

 Art Inspired by the Canoeing and Painting in the Wild Trip

Sulphide Lake painting, northern Saskatchewan

Last morning, Sulphide Lake by Saskatoon artist Nicki Ault – a poignant reminder of the beauty of Northern Saskatchewan’s canoe country! ©Nicki Ault

Nicki Ault is a professional artist with a studio in Saskatoon. Her paintings have appeared in numerous art galleries and shows. She maintains an attractive blog and an impressive on-line gallery of her work. She offered advice and marketing assistance to help get the Canoeing and Painting in the Wild trip off to a successful start in 2013. Since then she has created over ten paintings inspired by scenes from the trip. Over half of them have already sold!

Shortly after the trip was over, Nicki put together four photo essays covering each day’s events. Visit her blog and gallery and follow her fascinating story as she gives a blow by blow account of what happened:
Canoeing and Painting – Day One
Canoeing and Painting – Day Two
Canoeing and Painting – Day Three
Canoeing and Painting – Day Four