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Wild Raven Adventure

Tuesday, August 29 to Friday, October 13, 2017 - Thessalon (ON) to Quebec City (QC)

The last month and a half has been marked by great emotions, surprises and intense, and magical moments. It was embellished by meetings and especially, by friendship. It's always fascinating how we feel, when we see a great friend that we have not seen for a long time, that it was as if it was yesterday the last time we met. Always the same great friendship and camaraderie. Things changes; environment changes; we all have had different experiences since the last time we met; our vision may have changed; but we are always the same, one to the other. Here is the summary of the last weeks:


While we had just finished updating the blog, we saw the lights of a car, coming into the darkness, from the window of our temporary home in Carolina Beach (Thessalon). We did not expect our friends Terry and Pauline (and their dog Wynston) until the next day, but they had decided to drive the extra three hours, after getting off of the ferry, to come and surprise us. What a nice surprise! What a joy! We spent amazing days with our friends. We visited probably all that we could visit at that time in the area, including the Bruce Mines Museum where we were treated to a superb guided tour. Never had we had so much information. Bravo!

With Pauline and Terry, we laughed, ate well, discussed, visited, played cards and caught up. It was also with them that finally we were able to begin the reflection process about the "after" (which we were always trying to avoid). We only gave ourselves 10 minutes a day to discuss the end of our journey and each time, we ended up dodging the subject. Neither of us wanted to face the reality that was going to hit us quickly. The thoughts that we would be static in one place, not living outside and that we would have to start working again was already depressing us. Thanks to our friends, we finally dropped the taboo surrounding our arrival and we even felt ready to plan our new life. Their friendship helped us overcome that obstacle and above all, our fears. They were there for us and without knowing it, they had come to see us at the right time. It was with sadness, but an immense thankfulness that we left in our wake Terry, Pauline and Wynston on the morning of August 31st. We left on the North Channel in the direction of Killarney (ON).

We were treated to pleasant conditions: just warm enough, but not too much; cooler nights, but we were very comfortable in our tent. We arrived at Stillwater Marina & Campground located on Birch Island on September 4th. We met with Murray, the owner. Murray is also a police officer who works a lot with his community to bring positive and enriching experiences to the young people of the reserve, where he lives. In addition to community and group programs, he does individual projects adapted to the reality of each person he works with. He brings teenagers boating and fishing. He seeks to help them built self-confidence and to develop a passion. It was an inspiring meeting. Murray also offered to transport the bags we would not need for the night, by boat to Killarney, since Killarney was the next day's destination. We had already chosen a safer route according to the weather forecast, but which required a portage.

On September 5, we arrived in Killarney. We were looking forward to eating Fish & Chips, prepared with daily fresh caught fish. Herbert Fisheries serves the best Fish & Chips ever! We have never tasted any so good! Afterwards we retrieved our bags, went to the post office and got back the drone that our friend Denis had sent us (updated by his son François-Xavier). We left in the afternoon from Killarney and made our way into beautiful Georgian Bay. Georgian Bay! Amazing Georgian Bay! We just love it! The water is translucent, green and blue, with thousands of pink granite islands. There are majestic pines and cedars. It's so beautiful. No wonder our friends, Michael and Jane, tell us that Georgian Bay is definitely one of the most beautiful place in the world to paddle. They travel a lot and have paddled in many places, but Georgian Bay remains their favourite spot to come back to every year. For us, it is paradise. This paradise, we took the time to film with the drone too.

We made our way into the French River. We had not seen this river for a long time. The last time, the water level was extremely low (2012). This year, it was just about the opposite. The scenery seemed very different, even though we had detailed images and memories of the places and landscape. Given the high water level, it was difficult for us to get to the portage of the Recollet Falls, the water was pushing hard on the wall. We had to line the canoe to advance toward the portage. After passing the Recollet Falls, we met with our friends Ena, Dennis and Leah at a nearby marina for lunch. Ena and Leah had planned everything. A deluxe meal and so delicious. It was funny to think that during our canoe day, we had the chance to eat duck. It was far from our everyday lunch. A real feast! We are really lucky and happy to have such good friends. To drive all this way to see us and have lunch with us ... Wow!

Gradually, the temperature began to change and reminded us that fall was coming. A heavy sheet of mist covered the growing rays of the sun every morning. The dew was strong and the nights cooler. However, the days were still comfortable and the temperature was perfect to walk the remaining portages of the French River.

The crossing of Lake Nipissing went relatively well. It began with a light crosswind leaving the entrance of the French River, then, a stronger wind came with waves. We had to lengthen the course as we could not head directly across the lake toward North Bay. At one point, we were able to surf a few big waves when we changed direction and enjoyed the waves at our back. It was fun! When we arrived in North Bay, we were greeted by Alain, the manager of the municipal marina. He offered us different solutions to help us during our stay in North Bay. He was also the one who told us about the new hotel in town that had just opened its doors 10 weeks ago. We stopped at The Homewood Suites by Hilton and we were generously invited to stay for free with dinner and breakfast included. The suite was superb. Even the canoe was given a royal treatment by sleeping in the lobby!

The next day, we walked, pulling the canoe across the city toward Trout Lake, were we resumed paddling. We made our entrance to the Mattawa River the same day. The mythical Mattawa River. A highway during the fur trade era. All its portages bear a name for a reason. Plaques are installed at the beginning of each portage to tell the story (see photos). Étienne Brûlé was the first European to travel on this river in 1610, followed by Samuel de Champlain in 1615. Our stay on the river was short, but charming. The portages went smoothly (we have quite a lot of experience in the matter now!) and the scenery was pretty. Every morning we began paddling in the mist. We let ourselves be transported in time and our imaginations were working full speed. We could have seen a Canot des Maîtres appearing in front of us through the whitish morning fog curtain (

Once in Mattawa (the village), located at the junction of the Mattawa and Ottawa rivers, we decided to stop for two nights. We had our supplies to pick up and shipments to do. Back on the water, we recalled all the places we had stopped in 2012. It was warm and beautiful. The temperature seemed to extend the summer season. Aside from the gradual change of colour and the shortening hours of sunshine, we would think and truly believe that it was still mid-summer (even at night). It was 32°C on September 16, 34°C on September 17, and so on. We had just received our big boots in anticipation of the cold, but it was short sleeves that we had to wear. It was hot and humid during the Rapides-des-Joachins portage.

On September 18, we passed through Pierre’s old playground. He lived for quite some time in Petawawa when he was in the Canadian Armed Forces. He told me stories and recalled memories. Even after 15 years, he still finds stories to tell me that I haven’t heard. Pierre is an excellent storyteller. Those who know him will know what I am talking about and will be able to certify that I have not been bored listening to his stories and memories.

Towards the end of the day, we arrived at the “Chenal de la Culbute”, located west of Chapeau. It felt like slamming into a wall. The rapids and the falls were not accessible due to the high water level. We had to walk on a sandy path to reach Chapeau Waltham Road and pull the canoe to the next place where we could get back into the water. We called our friends Louis, Monique and their daughter Klaudie to give them an update, as we planned to visit them the next day. Louis immediately offered to pick us up after his work day. He and Klaudie arrived as we were walking along the road. A good dinner, prepared by Monique, was waiting for us and on the banks of the river. In Monique and Louis’ camper, we ended our day. A lovely place to be with a great view. We then spent wonderful days and evenings with our friends. Fort Coulonge is a pretty community and the people tightly woven. Thanks to Monique, we were interviewed by the local radio station (CHIP FM) and also gave an interview to the Pontiac Journal. Everyone knows Louis and Monique here. It was pleasant to see friendship and good humour all around us. September 20 we arrived at Monique's sister's house, in Quyon. Micheline, Raymond, Jenna and Alexis welcomed us with open arms. We had a lovely evening. The next day, we had breakfast with Micheline and Jenna. A nice way to start our day. We departed, but were not on the water for long. Jean Robert and Odette, our friends from Quebec City, were waiting for us to spend a nice weekend together in Ottawa. We laughed so much when we saw Odette dancing on the beach when we arrived. It was a marvellous reunion. The last time we saw them was at Buffalo Narrows in Saskatchewan when they had driven for 3.5 days to see us. We spent some fantastic time with our friends in Ottawa and we even had the chance to see Myriam, one of their daughters. We stayed one night at the Radisson Hotel where, once again, our canoe was secured in a beautiful conference room. A huge thanks to the management team of the hotel!