Canadian Canoe Routes

Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connector
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Author:  Hugh [ December 7th, 2010, 9:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connector

Tea Pail Portage Stonehouse Lake on the Bloodvein River to Gammon River east connector
Maps 52-M/6 Artery lake 1:50,000

We did this portage in first week of June 2010. The water levels were apparently normal. The previous summer (2009) both the Bloodvein and Gammon were at historic highs 5-7’ higher than the levels we paddled them.
This could affect the portages described in that access may be easier at either end. The Middle lake did not appear to have had any significant high water marks.

This set of two portages are not easy to find from either end. Once on the actual portages there is a noticable trail well marked with cairns or tape and well trodden swamp.

East side access from Stonehouse Lake on the Bloodvein River going towards The Gammon River:

Turning south from where the Bloodvein R enters Stonehouse L paddle SE 1.5km.
On the right /S west side of the lake is a small bay with a creek flowing into it from a single lake.
Paddle to the top of the bay. Portage is RL (on your right) over a rock point. Well cairned but lots of old beaver activity so you will most likely have to manoever around to get to the portage.
Portage is up and over, 25m at most. UTM 52M6 372/847
Welcome to the classic underfit stream/swamp of the Canadian north. The ancient beaver dam if, in place, would allow easy paddling. Not so this time as we got into our boats and paddled, poled,pushed, dragged ourselves upstream approx 500m and on RL or your right is a small rock outcropping with cairns and tape. Shore at this point, is approx 30m away over muskeg so more dragging ensued.
Portage length is approx 700m. The map dosen’t show that much but my impression was the portage actually went NW initially then angled back west to the lake. Most portages usually are situated where they logically should be at the end of a bay or low point. This one is just, there.

The east end of the portage was mucky with lots of blowdown and crap. Caution was required as the holes are sometimes deep. We floated/dragged our boats for a bit as it was easier and safer . We did some pruning of willows and small trees to straighten the trail and removed deadfall.
The trail trended up onto a rock ridge and carried on over down to a small lake.( 51d,17’,09”N; 95d,20’,43”W
UTM 52M6 364.5/842.4)
Approx location of portage end on the East side of the lake is UTM 52M6 366/843 There was long grass at the water’s edge so if you are heading towards the Bloodvein you’ll need a sharp eye.

We paddled down the narrowing lake SW to the next portage which is on the left side near the end of the bay If you get to the swamp and beaver dam you’ve gone too far. The actual access had old flagging tape on a dead tree in the swamp itself with a narrow swampy channel to shore. The portage itself starts on rock which was quite slick from run off. Portage length approx 1.3km
Once on the portage itself there were lots of cairns and markings. The trail follows the edge of the small windy creek that drains this lake. It is on rock, mud, swamp.
The west end of the actual trail on Gammon River side is approx 100m upstream of the confluence of the creek and the East connector of the Gammon River itself. It is very hummocky and footing is tricky. We did add our share of flagging tape at the end.
West side portage start/end 51d 16’ 31” N x 95d 21’ 40” W. UTM 352/831
Access to or from the Gammon River from the trail end is via the narrow winding creek barely wide enough for our boats.
If you are travelling from the Gammon towards the Bloodvein you can’t see the start from the Gammon.

Note the UTMs are approx only as I’m writing this in Dec and for some reason I only ended up with one GPS way point on the West end.


Author:  Mihun09 [ December 11th, 2010, 1:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connector

It was easy to follow on the map, Hugh. :thumbup:

How did it look for use, as in, how long since it had been used?

I'm wondering... did you then go downstream and to Aikens Lake on the west side, or upstream into what would be the middle of Aikens?

Any chance there will be a complete trip report eventually?



Author:  Hugh [ December 11th, 2010, 5:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connector


Trip report Job Lake (north of the Bloodvein)-St John's Rapids and back up to Aikens L and Broadleaf R is still in my head. Probably not a safe spot :doh:

I wrote this portage up first because there is very little info on it.
There is a Real Berard map I think but haven't seen it.
Hap Wilson's book only mentions it in passing ( Map 3 page 61) It ends up with the portage trail in red dots on the wrong side of the outlet creek entering into the Gammon. This wasn't very helpful as we spent a lot of time messing with the right hand side at the end of the small lake scrambling around on the ridge and through the swamp "thinking" we were in the right spot. If we had gone down to the end of the lake with an open mind we'd have found the portage much sooner.
Not that I've never done that before :rofl:

Once we accessed the Gammon we travelled downstream past the west channel exit from Aikens lake and down as far as St John's Rapids. ( there is a story here) We returned back upstream to Aikens L and over the Aikens portage into the Broadleaf and down to the Wanipigow River and got out at Birch Falls.

The trail itself really didn't strike us as used much. Having said that the cairns tape etc were plentiful and the trail obvious. We probably were the first over it in 2010. A big thank you to whomever did all the cairns at the East end. It's always a great feeling to realize you are in the right spot.


Author:  jmc [ December 11th, 2010, 7:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connector

Interesting post, Hugh. It got me digging around in my memory, and my even less organized (paper) filing system.

I crossed those trails several times long ago (the late 1970s), after discovering them on Bedard’s “Sasginnnigak Canoe Country” map. They were not named on the map, and only briefly described. The more westerly trail (starting from the Gammon) was described as: “Port – 1200 paces – starts in small swampy arm – good trail”. The trail from the small lake in the middle to Stonehouse Lake was even more briefly described: “Port – 850 paces – good trail”.

I think the more easterly trail has moved since the times I crossed it. At that time, you paddled from Stonehouse into that small creek you described. Just after it turned south, the portage takeout was on the right, up a fairly steep bank. Once up the bank, the trail was good and ran fairly directly to the small lake between the two portages. There was no initial short portage as you describe. From your description, the trail now starts further up that little creek, which is consistent with your description of it running northwest, rather than almost due west, to that small lake.

The trail from the small lake to the Gammon was a little less “good”, at least in my mind, than the one from Stonehouse. It started in the southwest corner of the little lake, across a short stretch of floating bog and up a low but steep rock outcrop. Then it went along fairly well until a boggy stretch about 100 metres long was encountered not too far from where it reached the Gammon. This was not an easy section to get through with the canoe – I usually got stuck and had to put everything down to extricate myself.

Where the landing was at the Gammon end depended on water levels. If the water was fairly high (i.e. water was actually flowing out of Aikens into the east channel of the Gammon) you could put in at the end of that swampy arm and paddle out to the river. If the water was low – no flow from Aikens – there was a portage path along the north side of the creek that could be followed to the river. The Gammon here was navigable even at low water: although the section between the first two rapids leaving Aikens could be just a shallow puddle, with no flow, water levels below were kept up by a fairly good sized creek flowing in from the east about 2km below Aikens.

In the “it’s a small world” department, those portages were the subject of an article in the Spring 2003 edition of Kanawa. They weren’t called “Tea Pail” then. They were called “Alice”, and the article “A Portage Called Alice” was written by another CCR poster, Andy Breckenridge, aka “paddlenorth”. His route description is less detailed than yours, but it is clear that even by that time fire had changed the portages considerably from the way I remembered them.

“Thanks for the memories.”


Author:  Allan Jacobs [ December 12th, 2010, 4:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connector

I'm trying various sources to track down the name.
It does not appear explicitly in Berard (Sasaginnigak), Wilson-Aykroyd or Paddle Manitoba W-22, as best I can see.
Berard does use the abbreviation T though, which makes me think that the name predates Andy's article.
Of course my use of the name is a big :oops: to me.
I can say only that I didn't make it up.

Author:  Hugh [ December 13th, 2010, 12:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connector

I've found a trip outline that uses this portage but this portage is not named.It is from the Northern Tier National High Adventure Program Boy Scouts of America canoe base out of Bissett MB. ... 20ERPG.pdf

Route Name: Gammon and Bloodvein River Loop Location: Bissett Base Entry Point: Scout Lake Shuttle: Fly-In and Out of Scout Lake
Distance: 75 Miles Longest Portage: Approximately 340 Rods (1.06 mile) Number of Portages: 30 (depends on number of beaver dams) Main Features: Asineewakkayhigun Falls, Fishing, Rivers Difficulty: Moderate Itinerary: Scout Lake West, Bloodvein River Downstream (NW), Gammon River Upstream (SE), Old Gammon River, Stonehouse Lake, Bloodvein River, Scout Lake Maps Required: Artery Lake (52M6), North Eagle Lake (52M5) Route Description: Almost all of this route is on rivers. The Bloodvein and Gammon Rivers have several beau- tiful rapids and waterfalls. The Asineewakkayhigun Falls are especially nice where the Bloodvein River leaves Stonehouse Lake. This trip can be done in either direction. One of the most difficult portages is going west out of Scout Lake to the Bloodvein River.

Note they call the East connector of the Gammon the "old Gammon River"
I'm not sure if the Scout base is still used out of Bissett. It is still there but looks abandoned.


Author:  jmc [ December 13th, 2010, 10:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connector

I should have looked at the map more carefully before posting. Hugh had it correct.

At the top of the Berard "Sasaginnigak Canoe Country" map is a "Legend" identifying the routes shown on the map.

The legend notes "T" signifies the "Tea Pail Route". The only "T" markings on the map are T1 - T4 between the east channel of the Gammon and Stonehouse Lake.

No indication whether this route name was invented by Berard or he got it from some other source.

But I think it's a much better name than "Alice".


Author:  Allan Jacobs [ December 14th, 2010, 7:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connector

That's cheating, looking at the instructions.

Author:  paddlenorth [ February 6th, 2011, 5:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connector

I did call it Alice - but I got the name wrong. I was writing about my experience as a 15 yr old on my first northern canoe trip through the boy scout base, and I didn't keep a journal (1987).

I think it's called Judy not Alice. (I got some flack from some guys who know the area well.)

The scouts still canoe in the area (and Outward Bound was doing canoeing trips in the area more recently).

Many, many scouts have done that portage. The Bissett base goes back several decades. For a long time, they all accessed the region via the Obukowin portages. There's a strong connection between Berard and the scout base - I never guided up there, but there are guys around who have done over 30 trips in the area - and so there's a wealth of uncollected trip notes about that whole region that will probably be lost. I worked at the canoe base in Atikokan for 2 summers, and there was no canoeing notes around, and this area (White Otter region) had also been well travelled over the years. (Caneoing without notes can be more exciting I suppose).

I don't know where the name Judy is from. We met an 'old' man with his younger daughter on the trail. He lived in the bush, and was canoeing in for supplies. Imagine what he knew about the area.


Author:  Marten [ August 18th, 2016, 12:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connect

I was up checking out these routes this summer. Wallace Lake to Broadleaf River via the Wanipigow, through Leaf Lake and bypass portage to Kosteck (returned using the long way around) long portage to Aikens Lake, east branch of Gammon River to Tea Pail Portage ending on Stonehouse Lake on the Bloodvein River. All the trails are open and being used regularly. Vegetation on the Broadleaf and Leaf Lakes was thick on the mid August return but open in mid July.

The bypass portage is in excellent condition from the Broadleaf River to Kosteck Lake. The Aikens Portage is open and dry except for a small beaver dam. The Tea Pail Portage to Stonehouse Lake was the most interesting. The first section is simple enough. After the short paddle on the mid portage lake I found a portage and followed it to the old beaver marsh on the Stonehouse end (it is now a grassy meadow with dry footing) and followed the edge of the marsh out to the lake. Midway along the marsh another portage headed back to the mid portage lake. I found it to be the portage Hugh used in 2010 and starts as a mucky mess and then climbing. The new portage to the south is far superior but many seem to still be using the hard one. Closer to StoneHouse I noted an old cairn atop a rock ledge which may be where JMC started his portage but I did not climb up to check it out.

This link is for a G4 map with my info overlaid. I intend to get a full route report uploaded to CCR soon.

Author:  Neil Fitzpatrick [ August 18th, 2016, 6:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connect

Nice map Marten! Must've been a great trip. Could you see any of the burn from the spring fire around Obukowin?

Author:  Marten [ August 18th, 2016, 7:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connect

I saw no sign of the 2016 fire until I paddled into Ontario on the Gammon River and entered Carroll Lake. I could see burn to the east. I headed up the creek to Walking Stick north of Carroll and went through burn for half the distance to the lake. A finger of the fire did get as far north as Walking Stick but was a few hundred meters east of the lake so my 5 star campsite was spared.

Author:  Neil Fitzpatrick [ August 18th, 2016, 10:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connect

Good to know. I've been hoping access to Artery & Aikens via Three Mothers wouldn't be affected by the fire. Looking forward to your trip report! If you have photos from the Tea Pail portage, can you post them in this thread?

Author:  jmc [ August 18th, 2016, 10:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connect

Very interesting, Marten - thanks for the post.


Author:  Paddle Power [ August 19th, 2016, 10:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tea Pail Portage- Stonehouse L. to Gammon R East Connect

Great posting.
Where's home for you, Manitoba or otherwise?

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