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Canadian Canoe Routes

The Coulonge River From Top To Bottom
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Author:  true_north [ October 20th, 2016, 1:33 pm ]
Post subject:  The Coulonge River From Top To Bottom

The Coulonge River makes for a nice 10-to-15 day canoe trip depending on far up you start and how many kilometers you want to cover in a day. This August – the 13th. to 23rd. – my bro and I finally got to do it. The trip report link below will provide you with a planning start if you’re looking for a river which

• would serve well as an introduction to wilderness canoe tripping
• has lots of swifts and fun CI’s and manageable whitewater
• has a minimum of difficult or long portages
• has some memorable campsites – our three favourites being at Chute A L’Ours and at the Coulonge/Corneille junction and on an island in Lac Grand in La Vérendrye Park
• is fairly accessible from southern Quebec and southern or eastern Ontario ... ning-maps/

We did find the water level to be a bit low. We are not sure if that is just a late-in-the season thing or if it was something about this year in particular. It just meant we had to pay a bit more attention to the main flow as we occasionally zig-zagged from side to side of the river!


Amazingly we saw only one group of 10 canoe trippers during our eleven days on the river. It was a group of summer camp teens – eight 15 or 16 year old girls led by a couple of older teens. We were expecting something more like summertime Temagami or Algonquin. We seem to have had the river to ourselves!

Author:  martin2007 [ October 21st, 2016, 3:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Coulonge River From Top To Bottom

Great trip report, true_north! Good photos and map detail. My 15-year-old son and I started our Coulonge trip Aug. 2 on Lac Nichotea. We stretched our trip to two weeks to accommodate lots of fishing. We ended at the "Chutes". I recognized many sites in your photos, though some others were only vaguely familiar. The clarity of my memories of specific locations is already compromised! Too much tripping since, perhaps. Maybe, too, diminished by our lack of disciplined note-taking and journal-keeping. I don't push my son to go beyond basic picture-taking in documenting the trip as he finds journal-keeping about as attractive as visits to the dentist. His laziness validates my laziness and voila, here we are with practically no records to simplify a possible second descent some time in the future. As John Cleese would say: "Typical!" Oh well! My son's a fantastic canoeing companion, and giving him canoe-trip "homework" at the end of the day could pose a risk to his future willingness to participate. I'm cautious about messing with a good thing!
As it was for you and your brother, water levels were low, but acceptable, with occasional interruptions on the extended sand flats above the Corneille junction. We made the Corneille site a layover, and while there, we tracked the boat up a couple of ponds up the river to fish and explore. Pretty country.
Probably our favourite campsite was the one mentioned by Hap on a small sand-ringed island in Lac Nelligan. There were many mediocre sites with ATV access on the river. As with you, we found better sites at rock outcroppings and at rapids, as we're not fans of camping on sand.
You don't mention the fishing, so I'm surmising that fishing's not a significant part of your tripping. For my son and me, it is, and we weren't disappointed. We enjoyed good pickerel and pike fishing in many places along the La Vérendrye section and at rapids and falls on the river. Some very slow spells, too, that seemed to coincide with north and east winds. We only got into smallmouth bass in the bottom 40-50 km. of river.
Michel Pouliot provided us with the shuttle, and we were extremely satisfied with his service, and with his driver, Rudy, a retired baker formerly of Bowmanville and presently living off-the-grid in a small cabin he built for himself and his wife on the Noire River.
I fell ill in Fort Coulonge prior to the our departure for la Vérendrye. We were camping at Esprit headquarters, and, unfortunately, had to delay our departure to the Coulonge for a couple of days. Jim Coffey, Dennis, and the staff at Esprit helped us out immensely during a difficult moment, going so far as to invite my son out for a day of Ottawa River rafting while I was recuperating. They went "above and beyond", refusing offers to compensate them for their efforts and kindness. I was really impressed by Jim and Dennis, and would recommend them to anyone interested in rafting or paddling in the Ottawa Valley.
Thanks, again, true_north, for sharing your excellent report.

P.S., WCPP and the Bloodvein are on the short list for next summer...

Author:  Barbara [ October 21st, 2016, 10:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Coulonge River From Top To Bottom

Thanks for the link to the trip report in the database. The "author" field has now been edited to show as Robert Pavlis.

Thanks for all the work documenting this trip. It's an invaluable resource for others.

Love that photo in your post. Do you have an enlargment framed and hanging on a wall?


Author:  Krusty [ October 22nd, 2016, 10:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Coulonge River From Top To Bottom

Great job, as usual. Thank you.

Author:  true_north [ October 23rd, 2016, 10:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Coulonge River From Top To Bottom

martin2007 – sounds like you guys had a great trip too…just a different focus! Fishing has never been something I liked doing. I have also followed a vegan diet since the late 80’s. Luckily my bro accommodates my quirks and he is into photography too so I guess that’s our substitute for fishing.

Having your son as your canoe partner is a great way to spend some off-the-grid time together. No internet, no cell phones – just the river and the campsites and the two of you getting to experience the thrill of some whitewater- and you’re also training the next generation of canoe trippers!

Re; Jim Coffey and Dennis Blaedow. Two great Upper Ottawa Valley guys. Your experience certainly matches ours. Meeting them was one of the memorable parts of our trip.

Barbara, Krusty, thanks for the positive review!

Barbara – I entered the author name of that 2009 trip report! About that photo of the rapids - I am thinking of getting one of those digital photo frames so that I can have a selection of images on display – haven’t found a frame that gets decent reviews. Anyone have one and think it is worth it?

Author:  pawistik [ January 2nd, 2018, 12:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Coulonge River From Top To Bottom

Thanks for the great report! I hope to do a section of the Coulonge this summer. I'm finally heading east with my wife & kids to check out a bit of my heritage and learn about the Bryson side of my family.

I will be ordering the Hap Wilson book shortly and I was in touch with Jim at Esprit earlier today. Jim & I were on the Paddle Canada board together a couple of years ago. I had forgotten that he was located near the Coulonge.


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