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Canoeing Georgian Bay

You'll find all kinds of beautiful rocks to explore and photograph on Franklin Island and along the east coast of Georgian Bay.
You'll find all kinds of beautiful rocks to explore and photograph on Franklin Island and along the east coast of Georgian Bay.
L, Shuttleworth

When most people consider paddling on Georgian Bay, they think of doing it in a kayak. But it's also possible to canoe along the beautiful east coast of Georgian Bay.

Amazing rock formations on Franklin Island
L. Shuttleworth

While this large arm of Lake Huron can become very windy and choppy, there are days when hardly a ripple disturbs the glassy surface of the aquamarine water. And it's on those days that canoeists can get out on the bay and explore the coves, islands, and amazing rock formations.

Where to go

The entire stretch of coastline from Georgian Bay Islands National Park north to the North Channel is a nature explorer's delight. You can canoe the islands of Massassauga, Killarney, and French River provincial parks, or check out Franklin Island, within the 30,000 Islands Biosphere Reserve.

Franklin Island can be circumnavigated in a long day or split up into two or three-day trips. You'll find campsites in the coves and bays, away from any wind that blows up suddenly. You're never that far away from cottages and roads, but the big blue sky, the water, and the green forest will melt away all your city concerns.

More adventurous canoeists can paddle farther west to the Mink Islands, but book some extra time into your schedule and take extra food, as you might be windbound.

Another great little trip is to paddle out from Byng Inlet and south along the isolated coast. You can camp right on the rocks or in the woods.

Incredible landscapes

Either way, you're guaranteed to find incredible landscapes that look like they were designed by top landscape architects, with pools, flowers, water plants, and shrubbery all in exactly the right place.

The famous Massassauga Rattlesnake makes its home on these shores and islands, but you may never see one. What you're more likely to see are massive water snakes sunning themselves and then sliding into the water to undulate away from you. You'll also see gulls, terns, cranes, minks, Canada geese, and mallards…..but not a lot of mosquitoes—even in early summer!

This coastal area of Ontario is one of my personal favourites. Even if you don't know anyone who has a cottage in the area, take a canoe out into the water and immerse yourself in the great scenery and fresh air.


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