View topic - Traditionally Made Canoe Channels in Rapids:

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2013, 12:09 pm 
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
Background:
Many Anishinabe folks here will tell you that in the old days, (and still being practiced by some folks out on the land), people would lever out the boulders in rapids to make channels for canoes. These allow you to bypass portages going both upriver and downriver, especially on little rivers and creeks with shallow rock gardens.

I have a friend who knows the Ojibway language and he spells it like this:
the noun "canoe channels" is Dawaapakinigay, and the verb is Dawaapakinigaywin - "making channels".

Canoe channel example:
I recently returned from a crown land route in NW Ontario, linking the entire Little Savant "river" (more like a creek with wide small pond and shallow lake sections), with the bigger main Savant lake and river system. Uncle Phil's brigade went through the Little Savant about 3 years ago and re-cut the portages again, and its seldom traveled, so I figured it was time to travel this route before the blowdown catches up with it again.

The constrictions in the flow were typically rock gardens and logs, requiring portages. But its all wild rice country with lots of ducks, furbearers and other game, and historically the Anishinabe (Ojibway) hunters and trappers travelled this area to make a living. The closest community with family ties is Mishkeegogaming (Osnaburgh).

I had to believe that there must have been manipulation of these numerous rock gardens to open up the channels to wade your canoe up and down. But I was not finding any remnants. Ice, logs and spring runoff can move boulders around and plug them up, so without maintenance they may close in. These routes are seldom ever traveled anymore.

I was getting tired of the numerous portages and was wondering where these channels had gone......And then I found one of the Dawaapakinigay, perfectly intact! Here are some photos. The channel is unmistakable on river right. You can see the center and river left that is what the natural rock gardens look like.

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This is visually the best one I have ever found. I have seen channels many times before, but I tend to travel bigger rivers and am never quite sure if it’s the ice break up and river energy that makes them, or if it human made.

Nice to find an historical one still intact on this little system. According to oral traditions, many of the small rivers had these channels maintained, and it makes total sense. The labour involved in making these with levers is well worth it for the time and energy saved by lining ones' fully loaded canoe up and down.

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2013, 12:19 pm 
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Location: Toronto
Thats awesome!

You would need a permit under 3 levels of government to do that these days. We have tried something similiar in a few places... but we were trying to channel water to make a good surf wave. Different strokes I guess.

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2013, 12:30 pm 
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Location: Warren, Manitoba
I know of several of these that exist on rivers here in Manitoba, actually used them a few weeks ago. When first seeing them it is obvious it isn't natural and with higher water they disappear, but low water brings them out completely.

Thanks Hoop.


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PostPosted: August 24th, 2013, 12:31 pm 
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Joined: January 22nd, 2005, 12:16 pm
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Location: Toronto
Great stuff!
We had once thought of moving boulders to get through a piece of a rock garden. We should have realised at the time that this was unlikely an idea new with us. But we for sure had no idea of clearing an entire rapid.
And we had once thought of moving boulders into the flow in order to decrease the pressure on a pinned canoe. Actually got that one off by attaching a rope to a thwart, wrapping the rope around the boat, pulling the rope and thus spinning the boat about the long axis.

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2013, 3:32 pm 
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Joined: June 23rd, 2006, 4:25 pm
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Location: Milton
Really cool and thank you Hoop!
Any historical data on this and links please send them to me.
It will be very important when we (and if) the Feds open up the small water input like they promised.
With what is going on in Ottawa it will be hard to say what will happen.
(it is still in limbo)

If Anyone else has info or locations please share them with me via email as well as posting.
I can not understate how important this is in trying to protect our access to what is now listed as "minor waters"
So Any documentation and contacts are really (really) needed.
(written Historical references an so on, pics, locations)
Wow what a community we have here. :thumbup: :clap:
This with back up will be the second really big piece of evidence this year.
Thanks for bringing this to the fore forefront Hoop!.
Jeff

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2013, 3:40 pm 
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Thanks for sharing very interesting.


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PostPosted: August 24th, 2013, 3:51 pm 
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Location: Kitchener Ontario
Very cool! Always wondered why more people don't "Improve" take outs, put ins and campsite access sites...there is usually a rock or two that can easily be moved to lessen the " impact" on canoes.....

Those rock garden channels sure make sense!

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2013, 3:55 pm 
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Location: a bit south ofWinnipeg
If we find one of these channels what are the things to look for to differentiate something with historic significance from a channel created to allow a recreational fisherman and his bass boat and 250hp outboard through?

I'm thinking width but is there any other way?

Chris

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2013, 4:32 pm 
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario Can
Our school club travelled a river this June that hadn't been used for over 30 years. Similar sites greeted us at the rapids, but on a very large scale. Turns out logging companies in the 1940's and 50's had dredged out the channels in order to run logs through during the spring run off. There is at least one other river in the area where I know this occurred as well.


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PostPosted: August 24th, 2013, 6:44 pm 
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Location: Connecticut, USA
Interesting history and a nice channel find, but it's not surprising that anyone who travels regularly over a route, whether on land or water, would keep the route clear of obstructions. It's no different from a canoe rental operator chainsawing all the sweepers on a river each spring.


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PostPosted: August 24th, 2013, 7:37 pm 
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Yes, very cool!


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PostPosted: August 25th, 2013, 8:06 pm 
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I came across this in LaVerendrye, the stream bed was 20' wide. It could be modern, I had no way of knowing. Made the portage a whole lot easier.
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PostPosted: August 25th, 2013, 8:11 pm 
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Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
I doubt we would have nearly as many canoeable rivers here had not dynamite been regularly used in the log drive days.
However the resulting jagged rock shards are still here.


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PostPosted: August 25th, 2013, 8:43 pm 
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Location: Scarbados, Ontario Canada
I traveled near Maple Mountain in the 1980's and recall that this canoe channel looked man made.
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... 3&z=19&t=s

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PostPosted: August 26th, 2013, 8:53 pm 
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Joined: April 23rd, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Two Harbors, Minnesota USA
I have seen these man-made channels on small streams on several occasions. One classic example is on the creek between the Pipestone River and Kingfisher Lake (in the headwaters of the Asheweig River). Throughout the ages, the thought was "Why portage when you can paddle?".


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