Canoe Trip Planning Resources
When planning a suitable route for a canoe trip, there are many sources of information available. Some routes obviously have more information than others, although you will almost always be able to find something useful to the planning process. Most of the resources below are Ontario specific, as that's what I am personally most familiar with. However, some apply to all of Canada, and of course the basics apply anywhere!
Some people may find this amount of pre-trip research to be overkill. However, I enjoy the planning and research almost as much as the actual trip, so I tend to exhaust all possible avenues before heading out. You may wish to pick and choose which of the following resources you use from the list below. In some cases, the information you uncover will save you a great deal of pain later on!
- Check if the route is in the route database on the "Canadian Canoe Routes" website
- Search the message board (forums) on the "Canadian Canoe Routes" website. Your question may have been asked by someone, and answered in the forums, or discussed in more detail there
- Determine which National Topographic System (NTS) map(s) cover the area in question by searching on the "Centre for Topographic Information" website
- View the NTS map(s) on Toporama
- Purchase the necessary NTS map(s). Look in the Yellow Pages under "Maps" for local dealers, or order online from "Canadian Canoe Routes." If you seem to be purchasing a lot of topo maps, you may consider buying digital versions and printing your own. Check out SoftMap, Fugawi, Touratech, etc. Many are available from the Canadian Canoe Routes shopping section.
- Find out which OBM Map(s) cover the area in question by searching the online system at the MNR Store. You can then buy the map online at the MNR Store, or you can view virtually the same data online using the Ontario Basic Mapping website available from the Geography Network Canada.
- Look up the general area of the route in the book "A Nature Guide to Ontario
." This book describes the general landscape of an area, and provides information on any special features to see.
- Check the online maps produced by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs to see if there are any trails nearby. If there are, note that these may bring ATV's and fisherman to your otherwise "pristine" area, and may also cause confusion if/when they cross portages, and could lead you off of your course
- CLAIMaps is another online GIS website that provides information and maps related to the location of mining claims in Ontario. You may wish to check to see if there are any mines in the areas you will be visiting, as they may be active and you may hear blasting, machinery, etc. On the other hand, they may also be interesting places to visit! Be careful though!
- The Ontario Crown Land Use Atlas is a great site showing the designation of land in Ontario. For example, you can see which lands are crown land, and which are privately owned, are part of Provincial Parks, etc.
- Search Google - try searching for lake names of some of the major lakes along your route, possibly in combination with the words "canoe" or "paddle" etc. Many well travelled routes have online journals, etc. that people have posted online (like my Canoe Trips page)
- Take a look at the route on Google Maps. Switch to "Satellite View" to see imagery of the route. Note that some areas have higher resolution imagery than others, so this may not be all that useful, depending on where you're looking. Also check out Google Earth for similar imagery, but also with elevation data and other cool features.
- For the possibility of more imagery (not all areas are covered,) check out The Canadian National Air Photo Library. Once you figure out the interface, you can see "previews" of some of the imagery, which is very cool. You can also order prints of the imagery from the library if you wish.
- See if there is an MNR route brochure covering the route you are interested in. Most of these brochures are out-of-date and no longer maintained by the MNR, but still provide useful information. Write to the MNR office in question to inquire about obtaining these brochures. Also, check out my page dedicated to these brochures to learn more.
- Look for published route information in books. Hap Wilson, Kevin Callan, and many others have written books outlining canoe routes. Check your local library, bookstore, or a website such as Amazon.com.
- After all other avenues have been exhausted, and you still have questions, consider posting a message to the "Canadian Canoe Routes" forum yourself. Make sure to place the message in the appropriate sub-category. If your route is in Algonquin Park, be sure to check out Barry Bridgeford's Algonquin Adventures website. Similarily, if you're looking for information on paddling in the Temagami region, try Brian Back's Ottertooth website.