West Wind Overview

The West Wind Brigade: Mattawa to Ottawa

Friday June 23 – Saturday July 1

 

General Plan

All paddlers must register first with the Canadian Voyageur Brigade Society.  Cost $15. This is non-refundable.

Paddlers looking for seats in a canoe will pay a $400 fee. Paddlers who arrange to be with a crew, and who provide their own Fur Trade Canoe will pay $200 but will be responsible for whatever rental or loan or  agreement they make with the owner of the canoe they are paddling.

The fee will cover a variety of costs including the canoe rental, the costs of the support crew, vehicle and trailer rental, gas, van carrying camping gear and supplies and camping fees. It should also cover portage fees (The portages are long, will require mechanical assistance, and perhaps local help) and the cost of campgrounds and camp sites. There may be a small additional fee at the end of this trip to tidy up final costs.

A truck will be rented to tow a trailer, at least one other vehicle will be required to run errands, pick up supplies, etc. The trailer is required for the portages. The vehicles will carry the camping equipment and personal effects for the paddlers and the support crew and the spare paddlers who are not in the canoe at the time.
The goal is to make crews as independent as possible. The intention is that all paddlers will finish each day in the same town/village. Some paddlers will want to camp; others may use motels/hotels/hostels etc.

Crews will be responsible for providing own breakfast and lunch in the canoes but dinners will be a group affair (We hope!!). You want chicken for dinner? Place an order for food that morning with the support crew. There will be a gathering for breakfast at a certain time and a meeting then of captains and crews for the day. We will be making an effort to greet mayors of towns and villages along the route and present them with sashes and maybe shorts. However it seems unlikely that this brigade will be “feted” by the communities that we visit. The joy in this effort will come from the paddling and the camaraderie, not from a celebrity status.

The original plan called for eight days for this trip. We are attempting to compress that (Spending a possibly “buggy” evening on crown land a mere 35 km into the trip is unappealing.) Most portages are long, around hydro dams and require mechanical assistance.

The itinerary below is being worked on and might change still, depending on where camping/accommodations can be arranged.

This schedule gets the toughest paddling days behind the brigade early. Paddlers will gather in Mattawa on Friday June 23 at Explorers’ Point Park and begin making their way to Ottawa the following day.
Estimated paddling distances:

Day 1 Mattawa To “Swisha,” (Rapides des Joachim, Quebec)  83 km. Portage around the hydro dam at Swisha at end of day one or early on  Day 2. There will be an opportunity to change some crew members out, if  necessary, at about 35 km.

Day 2. Swisha to Pembroke, 77 km.

Day 3 Pembroke to Campbell’s  Bay,  54 km  This is the Quebec side. There is a portage in here. Need to confer with local expertise about this portage.

Day 4  Campbell’s Bay to Arnprior, 52 km.

Day 5, Arnprior to YMCA camp,  about 42km  (Long portage in early morning)

Day 6, 62 km to island in Ottawa. There are rapids in this section and there might be portages or maybe some rapids can be run in the canoes. We have some local expertise to help with that.

Max Finkelstein, head of the South Wind Brigade is arranging for camping in our nation’s capital.

Each paddler’s responsibility:
Bug nets and bug repellent and tick repellent.

Sunscreen, rain gear and shade clothes.

Water filters and purification is the responsibility of each canoe.

Paddlers will be responsible for their own transportation back to Mattawa and/or home. That might mean a bus ride from Ottawa to Mattawa so that will be another cost. We are looking for a place in Mattawa where vehicles might be parked for a week.

GPS units for each canoe would be appreciated. The organizer will supply key coordinates, such as the location of portages, start and end of paddling days, etc.

A safety policy specific to this brigade will be published later.

Stay tuned to this site for possible changes

For Further information please contact either:

Tim Mcdonagh 705-232-8355, or Joyce Matthis, 403-597-7661, matthys3@telus.net

The West Wind Brigade starts at the town of Mattawa at the confluence of the Mattawa & Ottawa Rivers in northeastern Ontario & paddles to the city of Ottawa.

The West Wind Brigade will meet up with the other brigades at Victoria Island, at the foot of the Parliament buildings, on the afternoon of Saturday July 1 – Canada Day.

As it does to this day, the Ottawa River played a vital role in life of the Algonquin people, who lived throughout its watershed at contact. The river is called Kichisìpi, meaning “Great River” in Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Algonquin.


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