- 151019 miles of coastline
- 42 protected Canadian Heritage Rivers
- 1738 kilometre Mackenzie River
What’s more Canadian than a canoe trip or paddling an Inuit kayak? Canada has the world’s longest coastline to explore, with sheltered coves, fjords and landscapes polka-dotted with lakes and ribboned with rivers. Pack a lunch, pick calm or white waters and push off for a day or a week. Ride with the world’s highest tides. Play voyageur in the wake of fur traders on a historical heritage river. Watch whales and icebergs drift past. Paddle in the shadow of skyscrapers or from inn to seaside inn, stopping along the way for a wine tasting, festival or forest hike. Our wilderness was populated with First Nations folks travelling the waterways and explorers and settlers who followed suit: see our on-the-water past in Peterborough, Ontario’s Canadian Canoe Museum. Finish a day on the water with luxury lodgings and a gourmet meal. Or pitch a tent and fry the fish you caught on a campfire. Then roast marshmallows and fall asleep to the bubbling of a stream or the rhythm of the surf.
- Paddle among Haida Gwaii’s southern islands into the sheltered bay of SGaang Gwaii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to rare Haida mortuary poles.
- Kayak pristine coastal BC rainforest on the lookout for bears and bald eagles.
- Spot pods of Orca whales spouting spray into the air from your kayak, then savour a gourmet meal at a luxury lodge on Sonora Island in BC’s Inside Passage.
- Spend a week canoeing the iconic Bowron Lakes Circuit for 116 kilometres through the Cariboo Mountains following lakes, rivers, and short portages between waterways.
- Experience the ebb and flow of the world’s biggest tides in a kayak on the Bay of Fundy [SEC - Touch the Ocean - Seascape Kayak Tours Inc] and spot eagles, seals and porpoises.
- Monster tides have created bizarre “flower pot” sandstone chimneys tufted with trees in the Bay of Fundy - Hopewell Rocks [SEC - Kayak the Rocks – Baymount Outdoor Adventures Inc]. Walk around them at low tide on the ocean floor; kayak around them at high tide.
Newfoundland and Labrador
- Bob amid bergy bits and see the giants of “Iceberg Alley” as well as puffins and migrating whales from the seat of your kayak on the coast of southern Newfoundland.
- Paddle the turquoise waters of the Keele River through breathtaking mountain scenery and easily accessible alpine slopes with panoramic views. [New SEC Spectacular Keele River – Canoe North Adventures]
- Paddle a stretch of the historic, frontier Mackenzie River, at 1,738 kilometres Canada’s longest, up to a kilometre wide in places. Communities en route make it handy to put-in, take-out and stock up.
- The epic South Nahanni River a UNESCO World Heritage Site [New UNESCO page Nahanni National Park to come] is a challenge for expert canoeists; the dramatic 90 metre Virginia Falls is en route.
- Mix sea-kayaking, cycling, hiking and yoga with Maritime culture, music and nightlife on a week-long adventure throughout Scottish-flavoured Cape Breton Island.
- Retrace historic canoe routes with aboriginal guides on Manitoulin Island [SEC - Experience the Past, Enjoy the Present - Great Spirit Circle Trail] searching for artifacts from the fur trade area and Iroquois battle sites.
- Canoe classic Algonquin Park among wilderness landscapes that inspired the Group of Seven painters. Then howl with wolves and sleep in a log cabin.
- Paddle a replica voyageur canoe on a guided tour of the Rideau Canal Waterway—a Canadian Heritage River and UNESCO World Heritage Site – through 45 locks on North America’s oldest continuously operated canal system.
Prince Edward Island
- Surrounded by water, Prince Edward Island is a natural sea kayaking paradise with beaches for clam digging and stopping in for a fish shack lunch while on an inn to seaside inn paddling adventure.
- Go whale watching at sea level for Minkes and Finbacks in dramatic Saguenay Fjord, North America’s largest, while experiencing the region’s rich Francophone culture and history.
- Paddle millennia-old First Nations trading routes and uncover Gold Rush-era legends as you surround yourself in the boundless wild of the Yukon River from Lake Laberge to Dawson City.
- The Alsek is an exciting white-water river for canoeists and kayakers that passes through three wilderness parks where you camp beneath soaring peaks and glaciers, spotting northern wildlife along the way.
- Mid-summer - July and August - when temperatures across the country are at their highest, is the best time for canoeing and kayaking.
- Summer temperatures range from daytime highs in the 20°C's and low 30°C's in the south to 15°C degrees in Nunavut and the north of the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
- In the far North, the ocean is ice-free for only a brief time and mid-summer is the best time for sea-kayaking and canoeing on rivers, lakes and the sea.
- Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
- The paddling season in southern Canada is generally from May through September.
- Paddling is a year-round recreational sport in some regions of Canada like balmy British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island and Vancouver’s Lower Mainland.
- Spring – May and June – is warm and days are long, but rivers are often at a higher level due to melting mountain snow. This can affect the water speed and the difficulty level of rapids.
- Spring in Nunavut – June into early July – is the time to kayak along the edge of the frozen sea to see a feeding frenzy of birds and creatures from whales to polar bears.
- Fall – late August into October depending on the latitude – is cooler and generally bug-free, but nighttime temperatures can be chilly, even in the south. However, autumn colours can be brilliant and the dark nights mean a better chance of seeing Northern Lights.
- Bring warm layers of clothing for paddling, even in summer as temperatures on the water are lower and it is often windier than on land.
- "Dress for the water" is a safety slogan that means wearing a wetsuit or dry suit if paddling in cold waters in spring and fall and in the far north.
- A small dry bag is handy for keeping cameras, watches and wallets dry on the water.
- Be honest about your level of ability, especially on white-water, to be safe.
- Rain jackets are a good idea.
- During summer, sunscreen is essential as are good sunglasses; Polaroids allow you to see down into the water. Binoculars are handy for close-up wildlife viewing.
- If the ocean swell doesn’t agree with you, pack anti-motion pills to make the journey more fun.