Since the early 1990s Paddle
Manitoba has been hosting an open paddle at
La Barriere park
from May through September. I have been organizing
these evenings since 2000. The park is located 5km south of Winnipeg on
Waverly Street along the La Salle River. The outings are
recreational and provide an opportunity for Paddle Manitoba members
and the public to get out for an evening paddle. I am willing to
spend time with participants to teach some basic skills or hone
paddling technique. If you want to take a canoeing course but are not
sure of your skill level let me know prior to the paddle and I can do
an assessment of your skills.
During the two hour paddle you can paddle as far along the river as you
feel comfortable. Two canoeists with moderate skill and fitness can
paddle to the bridge at River Oaks Golf Course and back for a round
trip of 9km. Many people come out to enjoy the evening and look for the
Great Blue Heron, beaver or deer and go no more than the distance
to the walking bridge (about 1km round trip).
Paddles run from 6:30-8:30pm in May, August, and September. During
June and July the start time changes to 7:00pm.
Unfortunately due to a rash of theft and vandalism Paddle Manitoba is not able to provide equipment in 2014. Paddle Manitoba is working to arrange more secure storage facilities and may be able to offer equipment again in the near future.
Everyone must sign a waiver prior to the start of any event. All participants must wear a properly fitting PFD during the paddle.
Regarding paddles at other times: There may be periodic outings throughout
the summer. Watch the Paddle Manitoba website event forums to see
if any are posted (http://www.paddle.mb.ca/forum-2/).
I am willing to run small Paddle Canada Style, Basic, and Lake Canoe
courses over the summer months at a mutually convenient
location and price. Contact me at the email address at the bottom of the
page. All courses follow the Paddle Canada (formerly CRCA) program.
If you are looking for canoe instructors check the Paddle
Canada website under Programs->Canoeing->Instructors
for Hire. I have taken or taught courses
with Don Kurt, Eric Gyselman, Gerry Hirose, Brian Johnston,
Jeremiah Heinrichs, Dave Pancoe, Cameron White, Sharon Touchette, Steve Allen - all
do an excellent job. Interested in seeing if there are any open Paddle Canada courses near you check the
Paddle Canada website under
Programs->Canoeing->Search for a Course
Course Outlines: The
following are for personal use and may not contain
all of the course requirements or complete information.
Subject: Differentiation between "pleasure vessel" and other vessels.
My interpritation of the current Canada Shipping Act (up to Dec
2010) anyone paddling a canoe can not be a passanger. The above
bulletin would still apply but see small vessel regulation since
guided excursions (section 303) and human-powered
passenger-carrying vessels (section 306) have been explicitly
I believe the best way to learn something is through a little education and a lot of practice. The following links may provide some helpful information
on paddling techniques. Now stop reading this dribble; go and paddle!
References (hard copy): The following are some references that
I have used in the past for learning canoe skills. Although all
of these books provide some suggestions and tips on technique and
skills the best way to learn is actually getting into a canoe and
paddling - take a course, go to an open paddle, paddle with someone
'in the know', read & try. Out of the list below my preference is
Path of the Paddle by Bill Mason.
American National Red Cross [The]. Canoeing. The American National Red Cross, 1977
American Canoe Association, Canoeing: Outdoor Adventures Pamela S. Dillon and Jeremy Oyen Eds. Human Kinetics, Inc. 2008
Jacobson, Cliff. Basic Essentials; Canoeing third edition. A Falcon Guide, Morris Book Pub., 2007
Kesselheim, Alan S. The Wilderness Paddler's Handbook Ragged Mountain Press., 2001
Goodwin, Ray. Canoeing Pesda Press, 2011.
Mason, Bill. Path of the Paddle; An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Canoeing. Van Nostrand Reinhold Ltd, 1980
Mason, Bill. Song of the Paddle; An Illustrated Guide to Wilderness Camping. Key Porter Books, 1988
McGuffin, Gary & Joannie. Paddle your own Canoe; An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Canoeing Boston Mills Press, 1999
Stringer, Omer. The Canoeist's Manual The Friends of Algonquin Park, 1989 (Original publication Dan Gibson Prod. Ltd., 1975)
Ray, Slim. The Canoe Handbook. Stackpole Books, 1992
Goodwin, Ray. Canoeing Pesda Press (8 July 2011)
Roberts, Harry. Basic Essentials; Canoe Paddling third edition rev. by Steve Salins. A Falcon Guide, Morris Book Pub., 2007
Rock, Harry. Canoe Poling Little Dancer, 2005
Rutstrum, Calvin. North American Canoe Country Macmillan Pub, 1964
Weir, James. Discover Canoeing, A complete introductin to open canoeing Presda Press, 2010
Westwood, Andrew. Canoeing; The Essential Skills and Safety The Heliconia Press, 2007
Other associated references
Gilbertson, Ken, Timothy Bates, Terry McLaughlin, and Alan Ewert.
Outdoor Education: Methods and Strategies. Human Kinetics. 2006
Amrose, Susan A., Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Loyett, Marie K. Norman, and Richard E. Mayer. How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. Jossey-Bass, 2010
Manitoba Routes & Information
Before you go romping off into the wilderness make sure you are
prepared and have a realistic idea of your limitations and
skills. The following resources are just starting points I would
expect you to pickup appropriate topographic maps, suitable equipment,
local knowledge, etc... Several of the books are out of print but
you may be able to find them from local libraries or used book stores.
A few of the suggested routes or locations are
based on old (possibly out dated) information. Some of these resources
are also included for neighbouring provincial or state regions. This is
not an exhaustive list of sources; it was developed for
personal information and interest.
Natural Resources Canada. GeoGratis Natural
Resources Canada, 2010. Geospatial data available online at no cost
and without restrictions, including Topgraphic map sheets in PFD and
TIF format. Use CanTopo or CanVec depending on needs. This site does
not contain routes but it is an excellent source for topographic map
Travel Manitoba Paddling In Manitoba - Unsurpassed Waters Travel Manitoba, 2010. The web page is not longer for Travel Manitoba - no replacement found also see:
Travel Manitoba's Outdoor Adventure Guide, 2009. Page appears to be down
I was not sure where to put this one but see the Historical
Canoe Route Maps from Canada Map Sales (Real Berard's hand-drawn
canoe route maps). Routes listed as of Sept 2009: Assiniboine, Grass
River, Kautunigan, Land of Little Sticks, Little Grand Rapids, Mistik
Creek, Bird-Manigotagan, Riviere aux Rats, Sasaginnigak, Middle Track
& Hayes, Waterhen, Whitemouth, Winnipeg River.
Canoe Equipment & Rental Contacts (Winnipeg)
If you want to buy or rent canoe equipment in Winnipeg these are
the places I recommend. There are other places, some are probably great, but
I have not rented or bought at other places that I would recommend.
Remember to do a little homework first,
before you buy - try. All of these stores have options for trying out
equipment and the staff, who actually use the equipment, provide
Water levels from Environment
Canada Hydrometric Data page that I find helpful. These are just a
guide and should be checked for your own use ahead of time. Remember
the difference of a few centimeters can be quite significant.
Assiniboine River at Headingley ~231.55 - good
flow for easy playing (Moray St., Assiniboine Park, Kenaston - Omand
Park) and getting past Assiniboine park with out hitting bottom. Just
around 231.4-231.5 is good for moving water practice near
Kenaston-Omand Park but little low for other parts. The maximum level
for poling at Assinniboine park and west ~231.46. This is a little deep further west but right at the bridge to the swifts (just west) is OK.
Roseau River between hwy 59 and 218 (Dominion City station) 242.5
- this is good flow with some rapids not too high and not boney. I
recently had a report that 241.6 is a good level so I guess between
these marks should be fine. Check for 293.3 at Garenton (or higher).
this measure goes with 241.6. I spent the day on the Roseau River
poling at 240.4 - this was about right. Any lower would have been
scraping more, any higher I would have pulled out the paddle between
Pembina River at hwy 201 (near Windygates, or Pembina Valley prov
park) a level of 337.220 (discharge 10.8m^3/s) is great for
poling. It could be a little lower, but not too much. This is
equiv to 392.78 at La Riviere. You can also check the North
Dakota USGS Canoeing page for the Pembina River. They
recommend at least 910cfs for canoeing at Walhalla this equates
(roughly) to 337.6m at Windygates. The ND site recently was
updated to indicate that canoeing at a level of 350cfs is
possible. I would recommend paddling starting at La Riviere
rather than starting 201 or 31 because of the current and
distance to the US border. Note: if heading down stream from 201
you only have ~8km to the US border, there is no convenient
egress so you have to paddle/pole back.
Souris River at Wawanesa with level of 148.150 is good for poling. Much
lower and there are sandbars, much higher and it will be too deep in
several places. Even at this level there are a number of places
that are too deep to pole and paddling becomes easier. Head upstream
from #2 near Wawanesa or upstream from Mckellar bridge (on 346).
The bridge at La Barriere park is just under water on the La Salle
River when the Red River at St. James Street Station is 226.7 (16.2
feet) or Below Floodway Control Structure is 228.2.
At 224.7 (juste below the Floodway Control Structure) the La Salle can still just be paddled below the dam. It might be tricky close to La Barrrier as the river really does not backup that far from the Red.
Red River at St. James Street Station 224. This level
means I can use my usual launching pad in Winnipeg without getting muddy ☺.
Whitemouth River (Dawson Rd to TC). I travel this section
fairly often and usually check with the campground
regarding levels (level 0.7-2 poling, 1+ canoeing). Alternatively look at Whitemouth River at
Whitemouth for levels of 267.98 (3.0m3/s) or greater (268.2 corresponds to level 3 - limit for poling, but good for canoeing).
There are a
few places that might require a wade at level 1. I will pole
upstream at this level 1. There is a small charge if you leave
your car at the campground, you may be able to arrage a shuttle
(to Dawson Rd crossing) for a small cost as well.
Birch River (near Prawda). The water level at 98.12 (discharge 4.4)
is good for paddling with the current and poling in both directions.
It can be a little lower but not much. The water can be deeper without
a problem (with the current) but poling may become an issue.
I don't know what the zero level is for 98 but it is also provisional
so don't count on it too much. The level I used was July 31, 2016.
Netley Creek. Upstream from Hwy 9 (park at the Mallard Duck) is possible but there are a number
riffle structures through the golf course. There is a water level meter at hwy 8, when it was
224.23 there was wading through the golf course. When the level reads 226.5 a down
stream run should be OK. The size and flow are similar to Seine (inside Winnipeg);
is the potential for a downed trees across and lots of beaver dams. There was surprisingly few
downed trees/deadheads, I am wondering if there is snowmobiling in the winter and the creek is
cleared (for safety) - snowman doesn't list. Downstream from hwy 9 to the
Red is wide and open.
Brokenhead River (Green Bay Rd - where 45E crosses this is where
the guage is located as well) is OK but shallow for poling at
228.42 (try 228.6). I you would want it a little deeper for
continuous paddling, headed down stream would be OK. Heading
north near Norse 228.9 is nice for paddling but just right for
Poling practice at the C1 rapids and swifts (no ledges
thought). Starting at 435 the level is fine at this level at
least through 82N (a fine day paddle).
Cooks Creek is quite a nice paddle from Hwy 44 to the East Selkirk
Fire Station. This is only a guess but there is a water level
monitoring station at the Cooks Creek diversion. Based on
paddling July 17 and July 30, 2016. July 17 was difficult to
paddle against, but possible, downstream was no problem except
for some strainers - the meter reading was 1.4m with a discharge
around 1.5m3/s (see video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojylTeDCndU). July 30 was too
low (0.9) but still fun - there was about 10 places where wading
was required. My suggestion would be above 1.2m
(0.8m3/s) and stopping around 2m as some bridges and
other things might become an issue. Check what it looks like
just downstream of hwy 59 for an idea of the overall level since
this was the longest typical wade.
Boyne River (near Carmen) is quite a nice paddle. There is a riffle structure
just east of town (49.509134, -97.956687), a dam on the west side (at the golf
course), and a large riffle structure right in the midde (just east of Main st or hwy 12).
The riffle in the middle is more like a low head dam and is difficult to spot from
above. Water levels measured at the Boyne River near Carmen (253.4m, 9.4m^3/s discharge),
or Boyne River neare Roseisle (1.32, 4.8m^3/s discharge). The Carmen station is
down stream of the riffle structure so upstream may be better over the summer.
The water level was good for paddling and I expect almost 50cm
lower would still be fine as most of of the day I couldn't touch bottom with
my paddle. You can put in your canoe near the east riffle structure - although
the bridge is out, and just off 4th st SW (north east side of foot bridge).
Access points that I have used: Riffle Structure (49.509134, -97.956687)),
Bridge east of Carmen
(49.505957, -97.978986), Bridge south of Graysville
(49.501783, -98.160130), There is a pedestrian bridge
at 49.501525, -98.006690 (off of 4th st sw) that has a walk down
to the river.
Seine River, near La Broquerie, I accessed from 34N but there are
a number of access points. The water level at Sainte Anne was 253.48
which was a good level for paddling. Much deeper it would be difficult to
go against the current, I figure 25-30cm lower would still be OK. I expect
the river in Sainte Anne or La Broquerie would be fine at this level.
The river is narrow with periodic sweepers.
Dropping in at St. Raymonds just south of Ste. Anne is possible but there are
swifts just up (and down) stream of the bridge that would require poling. The next
bridge to the south provides access and no swifts (up stream).
I went poling July 1, 2017 on the Little Saskatchewan
upstream from the closest bridge to Assiniboine River (Daly Bridge) to
Kirkham's Bridge. The level was excellent for
poling, any lower some rapids would have to be walked/waded, any higher
the current might have been too much to get up some of the drops.
The water level at the nearest measurement was: Little Saskatchewan, near Rivers level at 451.28 (discharge
There is nothing that is so aesthetically pleasing and yet so functional and versatile as the canoe. Bill Mason
A Short Paddling Biography
I learned how to hold a paddle at a young age while visiting my
grandparents' cabin in the woods of Meadow Lake provincial park,
Saskatchewan. Although I do not remember when I first paddled a canoe my
passion was well developed as young teenager when I spent most of my
small income from papers and camp honoraria on a paddle, PFD, and
canoe. During a time when my friends spent most of their money on cars
and drink I continued to feed my addiction with canoeing.
Through the late 1970s and early 80s I was well known
as "Mr. Canoehead" in southern Winnipeg -- regularly
making the 1.5km hike down to the river to paddle. This
tradition continues to this day though the hike the
trusty aluminum canoe has
been replaced, usually, with a Kevlar model. I
regularly took, and lead, trips through eastern
Manitoba and NW Ontario during this time. Through the
mid-1980s to 1990s I worked as a biologist in central
Manitoba allowing me to paddle the rivers and lakes
around The Pas and Flin Flon. My work also took me into
Ontario rivers and lakes near Timmins.
All of that is great but what does that mean about my ability to
teach people anything about this recreational activity? My first
formal canoe training happened at YMCA Camp Stephens as a camper and
leader. I went through the early CRCA (Canadian Recreational Canoeing
Association) paddling program in the mid-1970s. I taught canoeing and
wilderness awareness for a City of Winnipeg camp in the late 1970s and
early 80s. I received my Red Cross Small Craft Safety instructor
certification in 1982. In 1999 I received my CRCA Flatwater instructor
certification, Lake instructor in 2008, and Canoe Poling instructor 2014.
Over 2010/11 I developed the Paddle Canada Style Canoeing program. I
am a Paddle Canada Advanced Lake and Style Canoe Instructor Trainer,
Intermediate Poling Instructor.
Mostly I just like to paddle.
The spirit has moved within me
and draws me back each year.
It calls to me each spring,
every fall it draws a tear.
Every stroke's a blessing
each spring and summer day.
Moving forward with my life
in such a wondrous way.
How I love the tranquil sound
of water rushing by.
The quiet laughter on the hull
lifts my spirit high.
To paddle with you is a joy;
across the lake each fall.
Of all the things I keep inside
this I tell to all.
Once the spirit finds you
your life will be complete.
The love of paddle and canoe
will keep your soul replete.