Paddling in Canada

By Nicola Beeby>

I had wanted to paddle on the river Ottawa in Canada since I first started paddling. Now I had flights booked for 2 weeks in August, I was really excited and not quite sure what to expect. We finally arrived after what seemed like 24hrs travelling, followed by driving the trucks (large 4x4’s) we had hired at CJ’s apartments right next to the river. The next morning after the traditional Canadian breakfast of pancakes we got straight on the river and spent the day exploring from Mckoys all the way down to the get out below blacks.The river was at some kind of all time low level, but the water was still fantastic, there were easy lines and hard lines depending on your mood, and most importantly the water was warm. Over the next few days we paddled all day every day, I got up early and did some sessions with the sun coming up, such a beautiful time of day, where I met all the beavers going about their day to day activities looking at me with a bermused expression. We also did some night paddles by mistake, suddenly realising the sun had gone down, it was pitch black and we didn’t know the way home.

Afternoon session on Baby Face. ph Dave Wortley

Then we headed to Montreal to paddle Big Joe on Lachine. Getting there all you can see is water with some white bits in the distant that look like they might be waves, luckily some other boaters were about to show us the way. You start by doing a massive ferry glide then kind of head towards this rock, when you get there it all starts to make sense. You can see the wave, the eddy, and a lot of shallow slopping rocks which boaters are dotted all over. This someone told me was the way back to the eddy after falling off the back off the wave, a series of rope pulls which take about 20mins to complete.

Garb. ph Dave Wortley

But the wave was definitely worth it, a massive bowling wave on surfers left which you could just drop into which was so very smooth. You would try and stay on till your arms ached then when falling off the back start the mammoth paddle back. The first time was a challenge but soon this became a fine art in itself, after all day on the water and forgetting about lunch again, I said “how do we get back?” the response was “ferry back over there” pointing at a stretch of water bigger than all the rivers I’d paddled before. So we set off, aim of the game to get as high as possible meaning you had a shorter distance to walk but not so high you ended up in swamp land. This was how the days carried on, so relaxed just paddling, eating and sitting in the sun, what more could you ask for? Back at the Ottawa the level had risen and Garb was at a fab level, a wave so very fast, making for some excellent unintended moves. Finally after 2 weeks it was time to head home, The Ottawa is somewhere I will definatley go back to, however i’d like to experience it in higher water next time, and see the likes of the Bus Eater.

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