French River Canoe Trip

The Story of a Canoe Trip Through Ontario's Restoule  and French Rivers
By Norm Hooper

September, 2003

Part 7


Sunday Sept 14

We awoke to a misty, overcast morning. The nits and mosquitoes were in attack mode while loons bantered non-stop across the bay - a slight wind stirred overhead as thin blue wisps of smoke trailed up from the dying campfire, through the tree limbs and beyond the pine-tops - we made haste to decamp and get on our way.

Sunrise upon Hale Island

We guided our canoes out of Kesa Bay, still soaked in the spiritual aura of the past - we took our last glance out over the physical features of the French River as we bid farewell to history and culture, vowing to return.

We reached the bridge on the Restoule River by using the reserve passage L10P800, where on route, we identified moose and deer tracks as well as bear scat. After putting in at the bridge and pulling the canoes over the first beaver dam, we entered the long, meandering marsh wetland. We faced a slight headwind under overcast skies and the cool air indicated a threat of a rainstorm. Paddling against the current and through the troll hair grasses was accomplished with effort at times it was even difficult to push the paddle into the tangled mass. For the next half hour, a blue heron treated us to a majestic rise from its perch into the air and across our bow as it repeatedly leap-frogged ahead of us just out of harms way. With thundering wings, small flocks of mallards heralded our exit from the marshy reeds into a larger body of water. The same kingfisher greeted us, fluttering back and forth across the narrowing vale as we left the marshland ecosystem for the last time.

Walking our canoes up McArthur Rapids seemed to be easier because we had better control of the canoes against the current. Every so often, we would see a beaver lodge along the riverbank and the new beaver dams under construction were closer to completion. The longer we paddled, the quieter it became, except for the rhythmic percussion of our paddles dipping into the water, stroke after stroke, as the shore slid by ever so slowly. Telltale signs of fall foliage gave an ethereal presence as we approached Stormy Lake where birch, aspen and maples were more evident.

Fall Foliage Reflection

The L11P270 portage around Scott Dam was done in quick order because rain appeared eminent we were anxious to get across Stormy Lake to the wharf and averting the whitecap waves and strong winds. Equipment was covered with a tarp as a precaution, which proved unnecessary as we received only ten minutes of light rain.

End of Trip John, Wayne, Norm R. and Norm H.

With gear stowed in the van and the canoes secured on the trailer, we decided to take a shower, have lunch in Powassan and return to Ottawa rather than set up camp and wake up to wet tents. As we exited the park and were on route home, we met rain and strong winds, proving our decision to be a wise one.

Overall, it was a fantastic and intriguing week tripping the French, Little French and Restoule Rivers, with its waterway system of delightful intricacies and diversified natural beauty, its history and culture and the abundance of wildlife our trip was an escape from reality, an opportunity to witness unique Canadian Shield terrain, to run rapids, appreciate great weather, and see universal sightings. We had rediscovered historical roots and new routes as well. We had completed our rich and amazing journey with only a few more scratches on the canoes reminders of some marvelous experiences.

Prepared by: Norm Hooper

Edited by: Geri Hooper