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  THAMES RIVER - Innerkip to Centreville

The Thames River is a seldom paddled (compared to say, the Grand or Saugeen Rivers) but still quite enjoyable river. I suppose since it's the only water close to my home, I first paddled it for lack of intervening opportunities. However, it's still an interesting paddle, and my favourite part (so far) is the swampy slow moving section just upstream of Pittock Reservoir. There you'll find lots of birds and often some peace and quiet. It's not quite as big as the more popular rivers (at least in the section I'm describing - it's actually quite popular around London and downstream from there), so that may be why it's so seldom paddled. Pittock Reservoir is quite busy in the summer with motor boats, sail boats, row boats and the occasional canoe. However, most of this traffic never leaves the reservoir.

Route Description:
  • Parking is available in Innerkip just beside the railway bridge over the river. (UTM 525140E, 4783390N [Based on NAD83 Zone 17N])
  • Paddle SW to Woodstock - this section is very shallow, so unless it's spring you may need to wade for part (or all) of the way.
  • Just before Woodstock, you will reach a swampy, slow moving area. This is an excellent area to watch for wildlife (Great Blue Herons, Turtles, etc.)
  • Just after this area, you will enter Gordon Pittock Reservoir. This is a large man-made reservoir, approximately 6 km long.
  • You will pass under a large highway bridge (Oxford Road 4) just as you enter the Reservoir. Parking is available here as well, just to the south of the bridge (UTM 523390E, 4779750N) and there are trails leading to the water for putting in.
  • Paddle SW to the dam.
  • Portage around the dam and back into the river. The dam is quite steep and the bank consists of sharp rocks, so it's a tough portage. If you're unsure, take a longer walk and find a safer route around.
  • After the dam you will enter the industrial area of Woodstock. It's not the most pleasant area, as it's kind of dirty and smelly. Very few people paddle this area (likely just me...lol) so there's many obstructions along the route - sand bars, deadfalls, rocks, etc.
  • Paddle SW for as long as you wish. You will pass the Beachville Lime quarries, where the river has been made into a straight channel. On the North (river right) shore are the lime pits, on the South (river left), Ingersoll road.
  • I have paddled the section from Innerkip to Centreville, but you could go further. It is possible to paddle from Centreville to Ingersoll, which is only a few more km's downstream. It is also quite possible that you can paddle downstream from Ingersoll... maybe all the way to London. I haven't done it, so ask around before you try. Of course, if you make it all the way to London, why not keep right on going to the lake?! As far as I know the River is paddleable from London to the lake, but you may want to double check that as I'm not positive
  • Parking is available at Centreville (there's a Conservation area not too far away from the river, at UTM 511540E, 4766960N). I'm sure you could also find spots to park in Ingersoll (ask around).
General Notes:
  • In the low water season, this trip could be made into a "loop" easily enough, since you can easily paddle against the current in almost all places. However, I wouldn't try it in the spring, as the water is considerably faster, and much colder!
  • Water levels below Innerkip are fairly low until you get fairly close to Pittock Reservoir. It may be best to start at Pittock, then you can paddle either upstream (towards Innerkip) or downstream (towards Centreville).
  • Downstream from the Pittock dam to Centreville, you will encounter many log jams, shallow water and other obstructions. Be prepared to wade a lot!
  • Bring your own water!
  • The section just upstream of Pittock Reservoir is always interesting. You will most likely see Great Blue Herons, turtles and other interesting things in this swampy, slow moving area.
Notes, April 7, 2002:
  • I paddled the Thames with my mom on April 7. We put in one road further upstream than ever (Oxford Road 5 [17th Line] just North of Innerkip [UTM 522480E, 4787500N]), and had no problems with water levels. Of course, this is during the spring and you couldn't make it even close to here in the summer.
  • Similar to the Nith River, the water was swift, but would be hard to call Class I (of course care must be taken when the water is cold!)
  • Birds were plentiful, as always, with geese, ducks, herons, and other unidentified species
  • We took out at the Oxford Road 4 (Innerkip Road) bridge, and the paddle took about 2 hours
  • Weather was cold and windy, but hey - it's still good to be out paddling!

    Todays portage distance = 0 m
    Total portage distance = 0 m
    Todays paddle distance = 13.8 Km
    Total paddle distance = 13.8 Km
Notes, May 8, 2004:
  • Matt and I paddled the Thames from his grandparents place near Beachville to the first bridge past Innerkip.
  • Our put in was at the corner of the 45th Line (UTM 515,263E; 4,772,747N) and our take out was at the 25th Line road bridge (UTM 505,990E; 4,762,876N)
  • The water was very high, due to the spring rains (the highest I've ever seen I think)
  • Part of the river was flooded out over someone's backyard, and we had to go over a fence, and down a rapids that I'm sure is never there the rest of the year
  • We had a good time, despite the massive thunder storm and hail that came down for a short time

    Todays portage distance = 0 m
    Total portage distance = 0 m
    Todays paddle distance = 17.7 Km
    Total paddle distance = 17.7 Km
Maps and Info:
  This page was last updated on August 6, 2004 at 09:48 PM