Vermilion River

CanadaOntarioNorth Channel
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Additional Route Information
133 km
6 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
6 m
Longest Portage: 
4 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
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Route Description
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Thor to Capreol Canoe Route

Thor to Capreol Canoe Route

Thor Lake, Edna Lake, Danae Lake, Post Lake, Graveyard Lake.
Proudfoot Lake, Baseline Lake, Camp Island Lake, Gibson Lake,
Fraser Lake, Ross Lake, Bass Lake, Marshy Lake.
All lakes are interconnected by the Vermillion River

Distance : Approximately 43 miles
Duration of Trip: 5 to 7 days
No. of Portages: 36

This canoe route begins at the north end of Thor Lake (atmileage 40 on the Canadian National railway line north out of Capreol) and can be terminated at , almost any place, providing prior arrangements are made with railroad to stop at rail to pick you up. Most people, however, finish the route right into Capreol.

Access to Thor Lake is gained by traveling north out af Capreol via the Canadian National Railway to mileage 40, then portaging the canoe a short distance to the lake for launching. It should be pointed out that this trip was made during the months of July and August and water levels were quite low.

The 500-foot trail which leads down to the north end of Thor Lake from the railway tracks is well brushed and
frequently used.

Campground - located directly across fron the landing is a small island which offers a very attractive but small tentsite for the fisherman who would like to spend a few days on Thor Lake. Thor Lake - is about five miles long with a predominately birch and poplar forest. High, steep cliffs of sedimentary rock appear in several places along the lake. There is a large build-up of logs and driftwood at the south end of the lake, due to the shallow water conditions which may prove hazardous to a canoeist. There are two other campgrounds located on the lake, with the first being situated about 2 1/4 miles down the
lake on the eastern shore. This site is frequently used by tourists and one should not count on it being vacant at all times . The last site is situated at the south end of the lake which marks the start of the portage to Edna Lake.

Portage - into Edna Lake is necessary due to the large build-up of logs and driftwood at the mouth of the river. The river becomes too small and narrow to be navigated. The 2,000 foot trail is along two roads, making it an easy portage to travel. The first half is along a powerline road. At the top of the first hill, a small road branches off to the landing at Edna Lake.

Edna Lake - offers much the same vegetation as Thor Lake and possibly is one mile shorter in length. Midway on the lake, there is a stretch where the lake narrows and a marsh borders the river on either side. The southern half is dotted with many private camps and lodges.

At the southern end, the lake narrows into a small dvar which runs into Danae Lake. An old s1uiceway is present and depending on the water conditions, may have to be portaged. Portaging can be done along the rocks on either side and is only 33 to 40 feet in length.

Danae Lake - is about one mile long and is much shallower than the previous two, with the odd red pine among the poplar and birch vegetation. An extremely shallow and rocky narrows is situated midway down the lake and caution is required when going through this section of water.

Between Danae and Post Lake, there is a 300 foot stretch of fast shallow water. The size and load and water conditions should be considered before attempting to run this stretch. Portaging can be done on either side if necessary.

Post Lake - is approximately 4 miles long and a change in the surrounding vegetation occurs slowly as one proceeds down the lake. White birch and poplar are predominant in the north end, with red and jack pine growing in adundance. At the extreme south end, the shoreline is rimmed with a thick growth of cedar.

The Vermilion flows between Post and Graveyard Lakes, but due to the shallowness, it is far easier to take the short 450 foot portage into Graveyard. A large build-up of logs and driftwood is found to the left of the trail. But the portage proves to be the best one on the entire route. There are however two refuse pits situated along the left hand side of the trail, which makes for a. very unattractive sight.

Graveyard Lake - is 1 1/2 miles long with a predominant growth of white birch and poplar. It is rumored that an Indian burial ground is situated on the heel shaped point that juts out on the northeastern shore of the lake. The shoreline varies from sand to rock and vegetation ranges from poplar and birch to the odd spruce. An old mill is situated on the southeastern shore and a large field offers good camping facilities. fishing - all the above-mentioned lakes have an excellent variety of fish to be caught. Pickerel, pike and bass are in abundance, with the odd lake trout present.

There is a short portage from Graveyard to the Vermilion River, over a. large pile of driftwood and logs. This 200-foot carry can be done either along the railroad tracks or directly over the log jam. (Due to the steepness of the bank up to the tracks, it is much easier to follow the alternative).

An immediate change of shoreline growth occurs as soon as one starts down the river. Cedar overhangs the river, growing on the rocky terrain which marks the remaining part of the route.

From Graveyard Lake right through to Capreol, one can expect to find the going extremely difficult and hazardous in places. The shallow water conditions require that the canoeist wade through numerous sets of fast water and rapids. Due to the steep rocks bordering the river, portaging is practically impossible. Almost immediately out of Graveyard Lake, one encounters extremely shallow, fast water. A beaver dam situated approximately one mile from Graveyard makes a liftover necessary into another stretch of fast water. A mile farther down river, there is a mile long stretch of fast, shallow water which can be paddled at times, but for the most part must be waded. Situated midway on this fast water are high granite cliffs towering 200 feet above the narrow waterway. Vegetation consists mainly of cedar with the odd pine present.

Proudfoot Lake - offers the canoeist a chance to paddle again, since it is a widening of the river (approximately l 1/2 miles long). Due to the rocky terrain, there are no campgrounds available along this stretch and, for the most part, it is quite shallow with large patches of weeds and marshes. The large island situated midway down the lake can be passed on either side. (The northeast side is better.)

The stretch of water that joins Proudfoot to Baseline is approximately 2000 feet and is very shallow and rocky. Care must be taken at the north and south ends, since there are some dangerous rapids present. Baseline Lake - harbours much the same type of terrain as Proudfoot. The shoreline is composed of granite and layers of sedimentary rock. Jack pine and cedar are the only vegetation capable of growing on the sparse soil. At the south end of the lake, it is necessary to portage around an old logging sluiceway and a dangerous set of rapids. The can be done along either side of the river.

The remaining three miles to Anstice.are marked by excessive rapids and shallow, fast water. There is a dangerous set of rapids situated 1 3/4 miles below Base1ine which must be portaged. Portaging should be done on the right hand side. A short 100 yards later, you encounter another set of rapids which may be run providing the water is high. There are three sets or rapids after this which are not dangerous, but may have to be portaged, depending on the water level. This can be done on either side. This leads into Camp Island Lake.

Anstice is a siding for the C.N. Railway. A large field is located here and offers a large campground for at least six tents. However, the noise from passing trains hinders sleep somewhat. The next 1 ^ mile stretch of river below Anstice is the worst section of the roui mile stretch of rapids in encountered. Portaging is necessary here and can be done along the railroad tracks which cross the river. The length is 1600 faet with a,|stee? drop back down to the river. Immediately another set of rapids is encountered, but it is possible to run this stretch'.! Another set of dangerous rapids is encountered about,^ mile below and a 250 foot portage is
necessary. A half mile farther down, a 100 foot stretch of rapids, makes another portage necessary along the large boulders on the right side, A shore distance below, a 1300 foot stretch of shallow water is encountered, and the water conditions dictate whether this stretch can be run or if it has to be portaged. If the latter is necessary, it can be done on the right shore. Although the fast water is terminated at the end of this Stretch, shallow water remains for the next H raile, and numerous rocks are situated just below the water's surface. The river'jthen turns back into fast, shallow water for a distance of.'600 feet into Fraser Lake. This section is extremely shallow, and even with high water

conditions at best, it would have to be waded. The river forms a. small delta as it eapties into Fraser and a logging sluiceway is situated on the deepest channel. Fraser Lake - is approximately one mile long. and immature poplar; birch and speckled elder vegetation rji'ms the shoreline, Midway down the lake, the town of Milne? lieS»| on the wast shore and the buildings, for the most part, are'^used for summer cottages. Highway S45 runs through the town, A'l; the southern end of the
lake a large bay is situated on the west shore, where a large field offers an excellent campground.

Almost immediately out of the lake, one encounters the remains of an old dam. It is possible to paddle over that dam, but a set of rapids just below makes a 40 foot portage necessary. A 1300 foot stretch of fast, shallow water is encountered just below the portage and runs all the way to Ross Lake. A campground is located on the east shope just past a bailey bridge that crosses the river.

Ross Lake - is 1 1/2 miles in length with rocky shorelines. Poplar and birch are the main species of vegetation. The lake itself is only three to five feet deep throughout with several patches of weed and other water vegetation. A small campground is located on the west shore, situated on a sandy point. At the outlet of the lake, on encounters a 1000 foot stretch of fast, shallow water which is navigable due to the lack of large rocks on the river bottom. Another similar stretch is ncountered 3/10 of a mile farther down and is 600 feet in length.

There are two remaining sets of fast, shallow water before reaching Bass Lake, 100 and 150 feet in length, and even with low water conditions, no problems should be encountered. Bass Lake - is 1 3/4 miles in length, with a mature stand of poplar on the east shore and rocky terrain on the west. A public beach is located about 200 yards up from the railroad tressel.
The remaining 2 1/2 miles to Capreol present little trouble since there are only two sets of fast shallow water,
with no large rapids being present. This stretch of river runs through a low marshy region and provides few
attractions in the line of scenery.

Conclusion: The north Vermilion River, due to its numerous set of rapids, should be undertaken only by experienced canoiests. Inexperience could cause the loss of canoes and gear in several of the rapids. Spring would be the best time to take this route, since the water level would be much higher than the late summer.

----------Addendum ----------------------------------------

There is a connection between the Vermilion and the Wanapitei River:
The route runs in a southeastarly direction to the lower end of Oshawong Lake where a portage is located, which leads to Shack Lake.

Portage - Oshawong to Shack Lake, Marshay Township. Trail is 220 yards long with sand and rock underfoot over gently rolling terrain. Landings are rocky add moderately sloped with moderate ease of docking. Shack Lake is approximately one mile long, being quite irregular in shape. Another portage is located ad the lower end of the lake which leads into the upper end of Thor Lake

Portage - Shack Lake to Thor Lake, Lampman Township. Trail is 1.093 yards long with a mixture of sand and rock underfoot over quite flat terrain, making travel quite easy but one may find it quite difficult due to its length. Landings are sandy with very little slope, making docking quite easy. The above two portages are situated between two private lodges and are subject to a steady flow of traffic each way.

both Shack and Oshawong Lakes are fished quite heavily, but no tentsites are situated in this connecting stretch.

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
Thor Lake 41P03 Venetian Lake 41I14 Milnet 41I15 Capreol 41I10
Special Comments: 

From the old MNR brochure, thanks to Bill Dobney


Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


This route is not maintained and has very light usage making the portages nearly impossible to identify. This river is very dependent on water levels