Canadian Canoe Routes

Missinaibi Question
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Author:  HuckFinn [ March 26th, 2019, 2:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Missinaibi Question


Starting to look ahead and planning for the summer and one river I am considering is the upper Missinaibi. The trip is usually a Sat to the following Sunday, meaning in 7-8 days on the river

I initially was thinking of Peterbell to Mattice, but the Sunday night/early Monday morning drop-off at Peterbell, not ideal timing wise, by that I mean, I would use two somewhat precious days of my once a year canoe trip, to get to the put-in and subsequently a paddle in the water...

Then I got thinking, maybe Barclay Bay to Mattice... anyone done this stretch... Could it be done in 8 days... I have seen one trip report from years back which suggested it was feasible at a reasonable pace... Other stuff I have read suggest I would be biting off a lot, meaning long days paddling under the gun...

We would be three canoes, all experienced WW paddlers...

any thoughts would be appreciated...


Author:  recped [ March 26th, 2019, 5:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missinaibi Question

8 days would be a lot faster than I would want to try but of course it is possible.

How do you plan to get to Barclay Bay? How are you getting back to Barclay Bay if you leave a vehicle there?

Shuttles between Mattice and Barclay Bay are NOT cheap. It's possible to DIY of course but you would need 2 vehicles and you will burn up at least 2 days.

Author:  PacketFiend [ March 26th, 2019, 7:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missinaibi Question

8 days from Barclay Bay to Mattice would really be pushing it. The winds on Missinaibi Lake can be punishing - it's what, 20 or 30 km long and in the direction of the prevailing winds. She is a harsh mistress, and you may be shorebound just at Barclay Bay for a day or two if the winds are too high. I'm not saying that it can't be done, but a great deal of skill, excellent gear, and no small amount of luck would be involved.

I paddled the upper Missinaibi a couple of times about 20 years ago (and I'm hoping to do it again in a year or two). From Barclay Bay to Peterbell was about 3 days at our admittedly safe pace if memory serves. You won't have much trouble with winds on the river unless the weather gets really nasty, as the river is narrow enough until past highway 11. Peterbell to Mattice in 7 or 8 days is definitely doable, but it doesn't leave much time aside for inclement weather keeping you shorebound for a day or two.

I should add I did it with one partner, double carrying, and we were relatively novice whitewater paddlers at the time, so your pace might be quicker if you're able to portage less. You'd likely miss the sojourn into Brunswick Lake though, especially starting from Barclay Bay, and I do highly recommend that detour (tough portage though, that).

I highly suggest getting a copy of Hap Wilson's Journey To The Northern Sky - it was invaluable to us, both as a planning aid and as a guide. I would also suggest changing the title of this post to be more specific, so it may be archived better?

Author:  Kalmia [ March 28th, 2019, 7:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missinaibi Question

On a trip from Dog Lake to Moosonee a couple of years ago we camped at the Seward Island site by Barclay Bay on July 14th, at Glassy Falls up river from Mattice on the 21st, and at Rock Island down river from Mattice on the 22nd. We took the Brunswick Lake version of the route. We had reasonable weather and were traveling faster than most people would be comfortable, I think. As a birder I regret not planning for a dawn and morning on the Peterbell marshes. - K

Author:  Dave_k [ March 29th, 2019, 2:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missinaibi Question

I am curious about the condition of the camp sites on Brunswick lake. Our outfitter had told us that a logging road builtin the past number of years has brought locals to Brunswick for ice fishing and that the campsites were getting messy. He also cautioned that if the water levels are low the river exiting from Brunswick could get rocky and difficult to navigate. What was you experience in these two regards?

Author:  Kalmia [ March 29th, 2019, 4:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missinaibi Question

Dave K - The first potential camp site that we saw on Brunswick Lake was occupied by people who appeared not to be canoe trippers. Hap Wilson's book and the Chrismar map show a nearby site where we saw a fire ring but poor tenting options. We continued to a small rocky island a couple of kilometers further that did not seem to be frequently used, at least we had to clear blowdown to make a spot for our two tents. On the Brunswick River my notes say "Several km of stillwater channel, then a series of ~1/2 dozen very rocky rips, some lining required, & a 100 meter carry at Pike Falls. There is an odd, obviously man-made low water channel through the boulder rips. Fur trade era? Or for the log drives?" As best as I recall, lower water levels would mean more jumping out to wade/ line, but you could still get a canoe through the rips.

Author:  Dave_k [ March 29th, 2019, 5:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missinaibi Question

thanks for that intel

Author:  PacketFiend [ March 30th, 2019, 9:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Missinaibi Question

I did one trip in early September, so water levels were quite low. We had to line our canoe through the narrows at the east end of Missinaibi Lake, the water was 12 inches deep in places.

Even at that time of year, the Brunswick river was more or less navigable, but just barely. There were also logging roads leading up to Brunswick lake already at that time (20 years ago), although they didn't see much use, by the look of them. There's a few lodges/hunt camps on that lake so (half a dozen tops at that time) - I assume they have access somehow other than canoe or floatplane.

Author:  recped [ March 30th, 2019, 5:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Missinaibi Question

The road into Brunswick Lake (from Kapuskasing) has been there for a very long time. The bridge over the Missinaibi looked old when I was first there about 30 years ago.

We were there for a day and a half waiting for someone to pass by for a semi-emergency evacuation. We stopped there in the late afternoon, the next morning some fishers came by, said they would be coming out in a few hours, around Midnight (16 hours later) they finally were on their way out (I suspect they ran out of beer) and gave us a ride to Kap.

If you are wondering, I had a broken finger and my partner had sliced his knee open to the bone!

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