Canoe: Quetico

Several years before I first started working in Sarnia, Ontario, a group of coworkers began a tradition of doing a four-day canoe trip every September after their kids went back to school.  Starting in 1990, I participated in a number of these trips and greatly enjoyed them all, including my last one in 1995.

Fast forward to 2018 and a number of those colleagues have hit retirement age. To celebrate, one of my close friends, John G, proposed that we do a week-long canoe trip at Quetico Provincial Park. Quetico is known as a canoeist’s paradise. It is also a place that is relatively difficult to get to (15+ hours of driving from Port Stanley), so it made sense to go a part of a larger group. Joining John G and I were:

  • Rob, who I worked with in Sarnia;
  • Rob’s friend, John D another Sarnia native;
  • Rick, who I worked with in Houston;
  • Roy, who worked with John G in Calgary after I left there.

The Plan

We used Camp Quetico as our outfitter; they provided canoes, permits and shuttles to and from their camp on Eva Lake where we dropped our vehicles and spent the night before the trip started.

Because John G had paddled Quetico once before nine years ago, he took the lead in the route planning. In order to benefit from tailwinds on the bigger lakes, John G developed a route where we entered the park on the northwest side and canoed east and north back towards the east entrance of the park:

Route of our Quetico Canoe Trip: Beaverhouse, Quetico, Jean, Sturgeon, Olifaunt, Pickerel, Nym (click for larger version)

The Route

I used my Fenix 3 to track our route. I’ve stored these gpx tracks on Wikiloc; each day is available separately.

  1. Beaverhouse Lake – Quetico Lake (camp)
  2. Quetico Lake – Conk Lamp – Jean Lake (camp)
  3. Jean Lake – Burntside Lake – Rouge Lake – Sturgeon Lake (camp)
  4. Sturgeon Lake – Olifaunt Lake (camp)
  5. Olifaunt Lake – Fern Lake – Bud Lake – Beg Lake – Bisk Lake – Pickerel Lake (camp)
  6. Pickerel Lake – Batchewaung Lake (camp)
  7. Batchewaung Lake – Nym Lake

Highlights of the trip for me:

  • Our campsite on Sturgeon Lake (Day 3) was spectacular; a sand spit on the south shore made for terrific swimming and comfortable sleeping.
  • The downwind paddle on Day 4 covered a lot of territory and Sturgeon Lake is a beautiful one.
  • Although it had the longest portage, the lakes visited on Day 5 were beautiful. The rapids between Bisk and Beg Lakes were very photogenic.
  • The last night’s campsite on Batchewaung Lake was beautiful. John G had remembered it from his previous trip and it was worth the long day’s paddle to get to,
  • The food on the trip was excellent. Rob made 5 of the 6 dinners, dehydrating four of them for later in the trip. The spaghetti sauce was particularly good. Roy’s potato soup and Rick’s Hudson Bay bread also stood out.
  • Rob and I were the only ones not fishing throughout the trip. The rest of the crew had good success and we had fish every day except our last full day.

On the downside:

  • While we didn’t have any rain, it is hot; too hot at times..
  • We had some haze for the first four days due to some forest fires in the area.


This was by far the best canoe trip I’ve done. Quetico is truly a great place for paddling; its remoteness has a lot to do with that. Even better, it was great to reconnect with the others in the group, some I haven’t seen in many years. We worked well together both on and off the water, making the experience great.

Photography / Videography

On this trip, I took only my Hero 5 Black GoPro. The lead photo was taken by my fellow canoeist and friend, John, as we approached the first portage of the trip between Beaverhouse and Quetico Lakes.

Camera: Hero 5 Black GoPro
Mode: Photo
ISO: 100
Shutter Speed: 1/1150
Aperture: f2.8
EV Comp: 0

In May 2019, I finally got around to making a video of our trip with all the footage I took. You can view it here:

Barry Cott Written by:

Barry is one of the driving forces behind Station Studios. An avid photographer and outdoor enthusiast, when he's not traveling, he calls Port Stanley, Ontario home.