Trip Log - Canoe Lake to Brent and Return
1976 May 14-25

In 1976 May, Bob, Diana, Phyllis and Herman undertook a canoe trip in Algonquin Park from Canoe Lake to Brent and back. Outbound the route was via Burnt Island Lake, Otterslide Creek, Big Trout Lake, Burntroot (Portal) Lake, Whiskeyjack and Robinson Lakes, and the Nipissing River. The return trip was via the Petawawa River, Catfish lake, Burntroot Lake, Big Trout Lake, Trout Lake, Sunbeam Lake and Tom Thomson Lake. Overall, the weather was lousy - "makes it memorable" - and a good time was had by all.

The point form text below is a verbatim transcript of Bob and Diana's trip notes (written in the tent each night), with only minor copy editing. The figure captions are current commentary.

Remember that in 1976 interior campsite reservations were not required - in fact there were not even officially designated interior campsites. The interior camping fee per canoe was $2.00 per day, or $20.00 for a 16-day period. The entry point quota system was just being introduced for holiday weekends and peak summer months, and the can and bottle ban was two years in the future. Portages were measured in yards and temperatures in degrees F, and smoking was the norm rather than the badge of a social outcast.

1976 May 14 -- Canoe Lake to Baby Joe Portage

  • - rented [two] 15 ft Grummans from Algonquin Outfitters
  • - with Herman and Phyllis
  • - left Canoe lake @ 2:00 PM after eating lunch in car
  • - weather had been raining now clearing
  • - wind light and at worst from west helped blow us up Joe Lake
  • - camped at campsite on portage into Baby Joe Lake
  • - arrived 5:00 PM and in bed by 10:00 PM
  • - spaghetti for supper
  • - black flies are out but not too bad - creek full of spawning chub (I think)

From Algonquin Outfitters we rented a canoe roof rack, two 15 ft aluminum canoes, and two life jackets, all for 12 days at a cost of $139.50 plus $9.76 provincial tax (no GST then). We already had two life jackets and we brought our own paddles.

1976 May 15 -- Baby Joe Portage to Big Trout Lake via Otterslide Creek

  • - underway by 8:05 up @ 6:00 - misty temp 38 - Red River Cereal for breakfast
  • - beautiful day - little or no wind
  • - stopped for lunch on Little Otterslide
  • - cirrus cloud out of south
  • - temp 72
  • - reached Big Trout Lake ~ 6:00 PM - many fishermen
  • - campsite half way up lake @ 6:30
  • - went for swim
  • - Jerky curry for supper
  • - mosquitoes now out but not bad
  • - in bed by 10:00
Joe Creek

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Morning along Joe Creek

Otterside Creek

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Along Otterside Creek

Big Trout Lake

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The mandatory "Sunset on Big Trout Lake" shot. I can't remember now whether we were suspicious of those high clouds on the western horizon or not.

1976 May 16 -- Big Trout Lake to Burntroot (Portal) Lake

  • - up @ 5:30 - temp 50
  • - grass dry
  • - on water by 9:15
  • - lunch @ 12:00 on burned over island in Red Pine Bay
  • - lightly raining
  • - visited Barnet Depot and alligator
  • - now raining heavily
  • - camped on island near top of Portal Lake - rain stopped
  • - ham for supper
  • - in bed @ 9:30
  • - no rain but misty and wind driven
Alligator at Barnet Depot on Burntroot Lake in Algonquin park in May 1976

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The alligator at Barnet Depot on Burntroot Lake.
When we left the campsite on Big Trout Lake it was overcast but not raining. The rain started very slowly as a light mist - the sort of rain that sucks you into not putting on your rain gear until it's too late and you're already wet. By the time we reached Barnet Depot it was raining heavily (although that's not obvious in this photo).

at campsite on Burntroot Lake

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We camped on the little island at the top of Burntroot Lake and attempted to dry out. For supper we had a ham-based casserole and a side dish of wet sneakers.
(It was a canned ham; this was before the can and bottle ban.)

1976 May 17 -- Burntroot Lake to top of High Falls on Nipissing River via Robinson and Whiskeyjack Lakes

  • - heavy rain during night
  • - stopped - up at 5:45
  • - overcast, bits of wind
  • - rained a couple of times (lightly) while we were having breakfast, etc.
  • - on water ~9:15
  • - wind blew us up Portal to portage
  • - through 1900 yd by 10:10
  • - very few bugs
  • - started raining at end of portage & kept on heavily until ~3:00
  • - started 3700 at 11:30 - stopped halfway for lunch at 12:20
  • - through to Nipissing at 2:10
  • - Diana fell in the creek (argh)
  • - camped at open site at top of next portage - heavy rain stopped but wind-driven heavy mist continued
  • - everybody wet (esp. Diana)
  • - set up tent & put stuff away as best we could - Diana shivering so ordered to get into sleeping bag & did so. Now (5:25) still in bag & bored. Light rain seems to have stopped but still overcast. Bob is drying his pants over the fire. Herm & Phyllis are in their tent.
  • - jerky stroganoff for supper
  • - into tent for night @ 8:00
  • - temp appears to be dropping ~ 40F @ ~6:00
threeman Taymor Hunter tent at High Falls on Nipissing River

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Drying out at the campsite at the top of High Falls on the Nipissing River.
We had travelled from Burntroot Lake to the Nipissing via Robinson and Whiskeyjack Lakes. In those days the route from Whiskeyjack to the Nipissing was via a 3700 yard portage that came out just above High Falls; the current route via Remona Lake didn't exist (or at least, it wasn't marked on the map). On the 3700 yd portage, there was a creek crossing that consisted of a single log elevated several feet above the water. The day was wet and the log was slick and Diana ended up on her back in the creek. Luckily her fall was broken by her Duluth pack, and Bob and Herman were handy to effect a rescue.

at campsite at High Falls on Nipissing River

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Sock drying time. (What's a little more rain?)

outhouse at campsite at High Falls on Nipissing River

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The campsite had all the amenities.

logging dam at High Falls on Nipissing River

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Remains of the logging dam at High Falls on the Nipissing River.

1976 May 18 -- Top of High Falls on Nipissing River to Rolling Dam

  • - up @ 6:30 - sky overcast but some sun earlier
  • - temp 35F - some snow - ice pellets later in the day - short
  • - Red River Cereal breakfast
  • - away ~ 10:00 AM
  • - lunch ~ 12:00 @ Nadine Lake portage - bummed some bread from H & P
  • - strong wind up swamp
  • - reached campsite - Rolling Dam ~ 4:15
  • - sky breaking - temp 40
  • - chicken stew for supper
  • - into tent for night @ 9:00
marsh on Nipissing River

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Herman and Phyllis paddle through ice pellets in the Nipissing marsh.

1976 May 19 -- Rolling Dam to near mouth of Petawawa River on Cedar Lake

  • - late getting up ~ 6:30
  • - freeze dried egg and bacon breakfast
  • - temp 35 - overcast
  • - started snowing
  • - reached Cedar Lake ~ 11:30 - surf's up
  • - spent afternoon wind bound at small unmarked campsite just west of mouth of Petawawa
  • - spending night here
  • - in tent for night ~ 8:00 PM
Cedar Lake

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The surf was up when we reached Cedar Lake. There would be no making it to Brent today.

threeman Taymor Hunter tent at Cedar Lake

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We tucked ourselves into the bush, but didn't find much shelter. We built a much more effective wind screen later.

1976 May 20 -- South shore of Cedar Lake to Brent and return and onto Narrowbag Lake

  • - still windy and overcast in morning
  • - up ~ 7:00
  • - Red River Cereal for breakfast
  • - away to Brent ~ 8:30
  • - shopped
  • - reembarked ~ 11:00
  • - reach campsite Narrowbag Lake ~ 3.00
  • - [undecipherable] leisurely evening
  • - weather sunny ~ 60F
  • - into bed ~ 9:30
  • - wolves in distant and frogs close by
  • - if this is illegible it because I can't see what I am writing
top of portage around timber slide on Petawawa River above Cedar Lake

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Smoke break at the top of the portage around the timber slide on the Petawawa River above Cedar Lake. (Note the old style portage sign.)
We had made it across to Brent and back before the wind returned (at the bottom of the portage at the mouth of the Petawawa River we met another group who had missed the window of opportunity). In Brent we visited the old store run by Gerry McGaughey to replenish our supplies. We mentioned how we had been windbound on the other side of the lake, and he replied:
"When they made time on these waters, they made plenty of it."
At the store Bob and Diana bought: 1 can of meatballs and a macaroni dinner (one meal); 1/2 lb. bacon; 6 eggs; 1 lb. brown sugar; 3/4 lb. butter; 1 loaf whole wheat bread; 4 butter tarts; 2 bananas; 1 onion; tobacco; matches; shoelaces and kleenex.

timber slide on second waterfall upstream of Cedar Lake in Algonquin Park in 1976 May

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Timber slide on the Petawawa River above Cedar Lake.

1976 May 21 -- Narrowbag Lake to Burntroot (Portal) Lake

  • - up @ 7:00
  • - sky overcast
  • - bacon and real eggs for breakfast excellent
  • - away by ~9:00 started to rain
  • - lunch @ snowshoe rapids ~ 12:00 - rain stopped
  • - paddled up unmarked portage - killed us
  • - wind against us on Perly Lake - Diana's shoulder seizing up
  • - reached campsite - same island in Portal lake ~ 3:30
  • - everyone tired
  • - jerky stew for supper
  • - still overcast and very windy - wind down by bed time
Burntroot Portal Lake

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Snugly ensconced on the little island in Burntroot Lake.

Burntroot Portal Lake

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The view down Burntroot Lake. We were curious as to what it would look like in the sunshine. It required several more trips before we found out.

1976 May 22 -- Burntroot Lake to Big Trout Lake

  • - up @ 7:10 - overcast
  • - some sun - snow flurries
  • - still windy
  • - bacon and egg breakfast
  • - 2 of 3 eggs frozen 1 discarded
  • - away by 10:30
  • - lunch @ second 40 yd portage south of Red Pine Lake
  • - reached campsite - island @ top of Big Trout ~ 3:00 PM
  • - freeze dried steak cooked as Swiss steak for supper (good but too complicated)
  • - weather still overcast but no precipitation - temp ~ 45
  • - in bed for night @ 9:45
Gray jay

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Lunchtime visitor.

1976 May 23 -- Rest Day

  • - Rest Day
  • - up early - weather overcast - broke up, sunny morning - clouded in again by noon
  • - didn't do anything in morning - many canoes past
  • - saw a grebe and pileated woodpecker
  • - afternoon went fishing and didn't catch anything
  • - got foot of osprey from dead bird - a little ripe!
  • - into bed late
  • - mid morning temp was 42F
Big Trout Lake

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Relaxing on Big Trout Lake

1976 May 24 -- Big Trout Lake to Tom Thomson Lake

  • - long hard day
  • - up @ 6:00 - weather the same
  • - Red River Cereal for breakfast
  • - away by 8:30
  • - visited McLaughlin farm on Trout Lake
  • - portage from Grassy Bay to Sunbeam bastard
  • - blow down and mucky
  • - Sunbeam to T.T. - many beaver dams
  • - reached campsite on Tom Thompson Lake ~ 6:00
  • - into bed for night by 9:30
McLauchlin Depot Farm on Trout Lake

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McLaughlin Depot Farm on Trout Lake

1976 May 25 -- Tom Thomson Lake to Canoe Lake and Home

  • - up around 6-6:30
  • - RR cereal for breakfast
  • - light steady rain
  • - on water ~ 9:00
  • - straightforward paddle to Joe L. (ran over 1 beaver dam)
  • - rain stopped - little wind
  • - some of terrain looks like "Dark Woods Interior"
  • - reached portage into Canoe L. same time as a large contingent of GG's Horse Guards cadets - managed to get through ahead of them - they were carrying their canoes loaded & right side up (my god, what a mob)
  • - visited Tom Thompson cairn on Canoe L. View nice (except for cottages), cairn OK, totem pole god-awful.
  • - arrived at dock ~ noon
  • - ate lunch on dock. Bob bought Backpacker's book on equip't at Portage Store
  • - returned canoes & headed home.
  • - ate large dinner at Driftwood Rest. Broke fan belt & had fixed at service centre near King City. Home ~ 8:00.
start of portage from Hawkins Lake to Canada Jay Lake

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Start of portage from Hawkins Lake to Canada Jay Lake.
We had a little trouble finding this one.

Cast of Characters from trans park trip

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The cast of characters.