Canadian Canoe Routes

Portage to the Soper River
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Author:  jdcball [ April 28th, 2008, 6:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Portage to the Soper River

Does anyone know if a portage to the put-in for the soper River is possible? Even if it includes some boat travel or quad, can we hire a local to get us to Mt. Joy where the trip starts?

I called the bush plane company (Ken Borag) and they quoted us at $3000!!

Author:  Frankr [ April 29th, 2008, 11:27 am ]
Post subject: 


The simple answer to your question is no.

I flew into Mt Joy and canoed the Soper in 1998 as part of a group guided by Sunrise County Canoe Expeditions. Mt. Joy is a long ways in and I am not surprised by a $3,000 quote in 2008. Gas has gone up so much.

There is an actual airstrip within sight of Mt Joy, so a wheeled plane can land. The hanger for the bush plane service is within sight of the main terminal. It is extremely convenient.

The trip ends in Kimmirut, where there is also an airstrip and where presumably the return fare would be at least as much. It likely possible to hire a boat to take you back to Iqaluit. However, I think it would be penny wise and pound foolish. It would add another 2 days to the trip and probably cost more in the long run.

It is a great trip and I would encourage you to do it. Let me suggest doing an internet search for a guided trip on the Soper. You may find one that is far less expensive than trying to do it as a personal trip.

I'd also suggest doing a search on myccr. There have been prior threads on the Soper.


Author:  kinguq [ April 29th, 2008, 12:13 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hi. I lived in Iqaluit for 12 years, and did the Soper a couple of times. It would not be feasible to portage to the headwaters from either end. There used to be a couple of small single engine planes (Cessna or the like) available for charter, and I used one of these to fly to the headwaters using a folding kayak (Folbot). The river is not technically challenging so pretty much anything will do. This is much cheaper than using a Twin Otter.

To me a better choice would be the Sylvia Grinnell, which comes out right in Iqaluit. It is a really nice river with lots of whitewater. I don't know why more parties don't canoe this river. I think there is an airstrip somewhere on Sylvia Grinnell Lake that could be used as a starting point, and you finish within walking distance of town. My wife and I did a trip from Amadjuac Lake to Iqaluit, via the Sylvia, crossing the divide between the Niaqunngut and Sylvia Grinnell rivers. This I would not advise, as there was lots of upriver travel and heavy duty portaging.

Good luck,


Author:  jdcball [ April 29th, 2008, 7:47 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hmmmm... The Sylvia Grinnell heh? Sounds very interesting. Unfortunately, I can't find any info on this river on CCR or elsewhere. Does anyone have a knowledgeable contact?

I am wondering where to put in, how to access that point, costs, length of trip, rapid classes, portages, trip logs, etc.

I'd be grateful for any of this, as our Soper journey looks to be nixed by the fly-in/out costs.

Or- any other good river trips nearby Iqaluit?



Author:  kinguq [ April 29th, 2008, 8:23 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hi. I'll have a look around. It is nearly 20 years since I paddled the Sylvia Grinnell. I did keep a journal and marked up a map, if I can just find them. Problem is, we just moved into this house, and things are still a bit hard to find!

As I remember it, it was a very nice shield river with lots of rapids, particularly in the lower part. Sylvia Grinnell lake is really the only lake, although the river widens in places. Rapids up to Class 3. We portaged many of them as the water is very cold, we did not have wet suits and did not want to dump. As it was we did dump in the final rapids, in Sylvia Grinnell park practically in town (very embarassing...).

I know a guy in Iqaluit who was running a jet boat up the river for a while. Not sure if he is still doing that, but it gives you an idea of the limits of the whitewater. Also the local kayak club used to run an annual trip. I am pretty sure there is an airstrip at SG Lake but I have never used it. If you ask at Kenn Borek they will know for sure.

So, I'll have a look around for my notes and come back to this.



Author:  Frankr [ April 30th, 2008, 2:50 pm ]
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Try this link. It is a Soper trip. The cost is about $2,700 per person.

I am not familiar with the outfitter.


Author:  rpg51 [ May 1st, 2008, 9:08 am ]
Post subject: 

If I'm not mistaken that outfitter is the infamous "Tundra Tom".

Author:  Frankr [ May 1st, 2008, 9:13 am ]
Post subject: 

I know there may be things that should not said. However, who is Tundra Tom? Is there a link maybe to an article in the media.


Author:  rpg51 [ May 1st, 2008, 4:24 pm ]
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Tom Faess. I don't have any links. Check out Che Mun for example.

Author:  jmc [ May 1st, 2008, 4:46 pm ]
Post subject: 

I think you have your outfitters mixed up.

Great Canadian Adventures is really a "booking agent" for outfitters: I think in this case Blackfeather, as they also advertise a Soper trip, same dates, same price.


Author:  rpg51 [ May 1st, 2008, 4:55 pm ]
Post subject: 

I think you are correct. Ignore my post above. Sorry for that.

Author:  jdcball [ May 1st, 2008, 5:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Sylvia Grinnell and the Soper

All very interesting stuff, but does anyone have any information on the Sylvia Grinnell river?

Also, I am looking to share flight costs to Mt Joy, at the head of the Soper. It would be June 30th or July 1st. The flight company has quoted us at between $2300 and $3000 for a 6 seater plane. There are potentially 2 of us now, so any more would really reduce the cost.


Author:  kinguq [ May 1st, 2008, 5:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Sylvia Grinnell


I had a look around and actually found my notes and maps from our Sylvia Grinnell trip 18 years ago, which is amazing after 2 long distance moves in the interval. They also cover the portion from Amadjuac Lake, up the Nuvungmiut River and over the height of land to the Sylvia. There are at least 3 landing strips on Amaduac Lake that I know of, probably more. The total trip from Amadjuac Lake took 7 days. It was 3 rather long days from Sylvia Grinnell Lake down to Iqaluit.

The SGR below SG Lake is quite a good canoe trip. Upstream of the lake the river is very shallow and rocky with long portages around unnavigable rapids. From SG Lake to Iqaluit is about 50 miles. The upper part of this portion is mostly flat with a couple of minor rapids. After 25 miles the character changes and rapids become more frequent. We made about 10 portages, most short, in the lower part of the river. If you were more daring you could probably run most of it (C2-3).

This is of course the Arctic and the water is very cold. Also the weather can be a real player. We did the trip in August and were windbound one day (on a river) and had frost and snow. The river is not as sheltered as the Soper, which is in a fairly deep, south facing valley that has a bit of a microclimate. In fact the Soper has the only "trees" on Baffin Island (a bit of a stretch to call them trees). The SG is not like that.

If you are interested I can put you in touch with an outfitter in Iqaluit, the one who used to run a jet boat up the river. He would have more recent information than I. If I get ambitious I may compile my notes and maps for the Routes section of these pages, as I have not heard of anyone else doing the entire trip from Amadjuac in recent years.

My dream trip for this area would be to paddle from Amadjuac to Nettilling Lake and over to Cumberland Sound, then to Pangnirtung. This has been done before and would be a magnificent trip with great fishing. Sigh...



Author:  JonathanSlater [ February 3rd, 2009, 10:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Portage to the Soper River

Hi Kinguq,

My wife and I are thinking about trying to paddle the Sylvia Grinnell or Soper this summer, and would be interested in any contacts that you might have that would help with logistics.


Author:  kinguq [ February 6th, 2009, 11:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Portage to the Soper River


Sorry I missed this, I haven't been looking for awhile.

One outfitter who really knows the Sylvia in the summer is Glenn Williams, Tukturjuk Outfitting, PH: 867-97..., FX: 867-979-4924 E-mail: He used to run jet boat tours up the river. He was also my neighbour for many years...

The Sylvia is a fine canoeing river and I was always surprised that so few did it. Much more challenging than the Soper.

As to fly-ins, I can't provide much help there as I don't know what the situation is these days. For a few years there was a Cessna with amphibious floats, which was very good for accessing places like Sylvia Grinnell Lake and Amadjuaq Lake. However there may not be one based there now as it did not do a very good business. There are small "twin strips" all over the place however where you can land a plane like an Otter. With just two of you, an Otter might be a bit pricey however.

In any case Glenn would be able to provide more current info and maybe set you up with something. Tell him I sent you...

Daniel Pike.

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