Outdoor Adventure

The French River of the Voyageurs

Wendy GraterGuest blogger Wendy Grater is the owner and director of Black Feather Wilderness Adventures. Black Feather is an Ontario adventure travel company, offering guided, outfitted wilderness canoeing, sea kayaking and hiking trips. Wendy is a nationally certified canoe and sea kayak instructor, and has guided many trips on rivers and oceans, from French River to Georgian Bay, Lake Superior to the Arctic.

Lindsey, my 11 year old niece and Luke, my 13 year old nephew had flown in from Georgia, USA to experience some true Canadian wilderness.  We headed north, to join Black Feather’s Family French River trip.  The French is one of Canada’s Heritage Rivers and was traveled in bygone years by the explorers that traveled the north, and by the Voyageurs as they transported furs in their birchbark canoes.  It offers warm, clean water to paddle, beautiful campsites and a peek into the past.  We met the rest of the group; 2 other ‘families’, one from Toronto and one from England, at the Lodge at Pine Cove.  Lindsey and Luke were so excited!  At the first rapid, there was time for instruction and coaching.  I could hear my partner, Lindsey, whooping and hollering in the bow, as the waves splashed around her.  What a rush!

The French - River of the Voyageurs

The first campsite was at ‘Blue Chute’.  After setting up the tents, we put on our pfd’s, and swam in the outwash.  It felt like a washing machine on your body!  After, we made our dinner and roasted marshmellows over the campfire.  Our British family had never had a roasted marshmellow before and enjoyed learning the fine art of this Canadian tradition!
The next day,  we paddled by Cross Island, haunted by the ghosts of Jesuit priests.  We decided not to camp here, for fear of having their spirits visit our tents!  Shortly after, we found a beautiful campsite with the perfect ‘jumping‘ rock, allowing us to safely plunge into the deep waters!  Dan, one of our guides, was ever patient, allowing the kids to continually splash, jump and cavort with him.  Later that evening, as the full moon was rising over the water, we could hear the haunting howls of a wolf.  We were sure that it was enjoying it’s evening as much as we were!

Our final day brought us back to civilization.  We paddled into the French River Supply Post, singing an old Voyageur song and paddling in stroke.  Our van awaited us there, and after an ice cream cone stop at the French River Trading Post, we said our good byes and headed home.

The French is perfect for an introductory whitewater canoe trip, and great for families, too.  Please check Black Feather’s website for information and dates!

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