Province/Territory: Ontario

A Rapid Education on the Madawaska River

  • 06 hours of daily paddling
  • 05 kilometres of dedicated river
  • 01 quintessential Canadian experience

The Madawaska River rushes past with up to Class III rapids. You’ve chosen your boat—will it be canoe or kayak? Dip your paddle, read the river and pick your line into the whitewater. Your passionate and experienced guides have imparted the skills and confidence to navigate this route. Now it is just you and the river; the boat is an extension of your body as you manoeuvre rapids and eddies; your newfound abilities brought to life in this natural environment. After each adventurous day, you’ve earned some relaxation. Rest easy with like-minded travellers at a serene wilderness resort—reflecting with joie de vivre on the power of the Madawaska and your newly earned empowerment from successes upon it.

 This is a true Canadian experience. Canada was forged through canoe travel along wild waterways—from First Nations, to fur traders and beyond. Be a part of this heritage adventure. Experience Madawaska Kanu Centre—the world’s first whitewater paddling school and home to weekend or five-day active vacations that will exhilarate, rejuvenate and welcome you into a lifelong love of whitewater paddling.

Why you should visit
  • Immerse in the scenic Madawaska River environment and discover whitewater canoe or kayak skills over a weekend or for five days—ideal for both first-timers or experienced paddlers looking to enhance their skillset.
  • Weekend Whitewater Canoe and Kayak programs provide a primer to the whitewater experience; 5-Day Whitewater Canoe and Kayak programs impart key skills for future wilderness paddling trips.
  • Small groups and a maximum 6:1 guest-to-guide ratio ensures rich opportunities to learn, discover and have fun on the river.
  • Family owned since 1972 and based on the European Ski School model, couples and groups of varying interests and skill levels may learn individually while vacationing together in a social and inclusive setting.
  • Canoeists will learn techniques to paddle a tandem or solo canoe, enter and exit whitewater rapids, self-rescue, portage and more.
  • Kayakers will become comfortable in their boats—discovering paddle strokes and manouevring techniques—and gain the skills to enter and exit rapids, self-rescue, portage and more.
  • Post-paddle, relax at the riverside resort—yoga, a wood-fired sauna, campfire gatherings and warm showers await—and savour local Feast ON-certified meals throughout your stay.
  • Choose your onsite accommodation: fully equipped on-grid lodge rooms, woodsy off-grid cabanas, social dormitories or self-catered campsites.


Expect a cool to warm climate throughout the operating season, with the coolest weather in May. Average temperatures are approximately 11°C (May), 16°C (June), 18°C (July), 17°C (August) and 12°C (September). Discover current local weather information.
Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada’s Canadian Climate Normals Website.

Visitor information
When to go
  • The Madawaska River’s flows are dam-controlled, ensuring reliable whitewater throughout the season.
  • Late-season Weekend Whitewater Canoe and Kayak Programs are held on the nearby Palmer Rapids, when the Madawaska River’s water releases are midweek only.
  • Water temperatures are coolest in May; wetsuits are available.
  • July and August see the warmest water and air temperatures—no wetsuit required.
Need to know
  • Guests should prepare to paddle four to six hours per day, walk atop varying natural surfaces and immerse in an uncontrolled river environment.
  • Guests may choose to paddle either a kayak or solo/tandem canoe, learning boat-specific skills for each.
  • No previous paddling or swimming experience is necessary for kayaks and tandem canoes; solo canoeists require requisite experience.
  • Guests are responsible for river footwear, base layers to wear while paddling, personal items and casual clothing for evenings—a full equipment list is provided by the operator .
  • The 5-Day Whitewater Canoe and Kayak courses are designed for guests who wish to later embark on wilderness paddling trips.
Getting Here