Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get there?
SSM Canal National Historic Site (Parks Canada)
Located at 1 Canal Dr, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 6W4, this is where our St. Marys River tours begin. To access Canal Dr. drive South on Huron St. in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, past the International bridge and over the train tracks. Take a left on Canal Drive and drive past the Mill Market, past the Clergue Hydroelectric, and enter Parks Canada. On the left, there is a large parking lot where our tour group will be meeting.
Gros Cap Marina Park
Located at 4817 Second Line W, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 6K4, this is where our Gros Cap tours begin. The entrance is on the left side of the road when travelling West, and there is a brown arrow accompanied by a blue marina launch sign on the right side of the road before the entrance. Park anywhere along the right side of the parking lot and the tour group will meet here. If leaving from Sault Ste Marie, plan for a drive approximately 30 minutes long.
Batchawana Bay Provincial Park
Located at 10699 ON-17, Batchawana Bay, ON P0S 1A0, the parking lot is on the lakeside of the highway, 66 km North of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. It is approximately 3 km past the Batchawana River or 11 km past the Chippewa River/Falls.
Do I need to have any paddling experience to take part in a canoe tour?
No experience necessary. We start all of our adventures with a concise and practical paddling instruction, as well as a canoe safety discussion. We will make sure you are prepared for the tour, so that you can best enjoy it. Even those who have been in a canoe before are unlikely to have paddled in a canoe with a dozen others. This makes the perfect environment for the group to learn and paddle as a team. It is a new experience that we have designed to be accessible to a greater community, and not just for those who have held a paddle before.
All participants should be in good health and without medical conditions that could affect a person’s ability to stay upright in the canoe. We are able to accommodate to abilities of participants and not all passengers are required to paddle. Please give us a call ahead of time and we are enthusiastic to work together and get you out on the water. Likewise, if you are unsure about how your health or ability may affect your tour experience, feel free to give us a call.
What weather should I expect?
Typically we get weather that ranges from:
May 5'C to 16'C (41-61F)
June 10'C to 21'C
July 13'C to 24'C
August 14'C to 23'C
September 9'C to 17'C
What should I wear on the tour?
As a rule of thumb, it feels about 5 degrees cooler on the water than in the city. Plan for a bit cooler weather and the possibility of increased wind. We always recommend dressing in layers, as you can always take a layer off. We recommend being prepared by bringing a raincoat in case.
May, June, September & October:
A jacket that is water repelling
A warm base layer
A hat for sun protection
July & August:
Shorts in the afternoons
T-shirt, but still bring along a raincoat
A hat for sun protection
Although we have to dress a bit warmer, our unique location and climate often creates impressive weather phenomenon due to the differences in water and air temperature.
What should I bring on the tour?
Your camera! Don’t forget a waterproof case, memory card, and batteries!
Likewise your phone is great to have along. Please make sure it is in a waterproof case and is secured from falling out of the canoe!
Sunscreen and sunglasses (with strap)
Water bottle (reusable)
Any personal medication. Labelled clearly, in waterproof containers
What is better left at home?
Pets (service animals are welcome as long as they are registered and you are comfortable with them on the water)
Personal Flotation Devices (We have a set that are specifically designed for the experience and meet the necessary safety requirements)
Paddles (We have a set of traditional wooden paddles for maximum coordination and fun)
Valuables that you don’t want to fall overboard (We don’t want to see anyone’s valuables lost! We make sure all of our valuables, including you, float!!)
Food (We do provide food on our 3 hour tours #Gilligan)
First Aid Kits
*Smoking is not permitted while in the canoe and any signs of intoxication, as assessed by your guide, will prohibit you from taking part in the tour.
Can I sit with a friend?
Our guides will assign seats for everyone as we load canoe so that our watercraft is balanced and everyone has room to paddle. Guides will do their best to seat friends and family beside each other or in the next row of seats. Feel free to ask our guides if you would like to sit in a particular position in the canoe or with a friend or family member.
Do most people come with a paddling partner or family?
Some do, some come with a family, and some come on their own—both male and female. Ask about a particular trip, and we may be able to give you a better idea of number groups that are coming.
What are the guides like?
Our guides are fun, experienced outdoor enthusiasts, that are equipped to deliver a safe and educational tour. They have backgrounds in environmental sciences, outdoor education, and experiential learning, while also feeding a passion for our local stories. Guides will be sharing their knowledge about our local ecology, culture, and heritage. Although not experts themselves, our guides have many experiences interacting with primary sources of local ecology, culture, and heritage. They are outdoor professionals that will help develop participants’ paddling skills, local knowledge, and enjoyment of our waterways.
They are certified with Ontario Recreational Canoe and Kayak Association to operate large Voyageur style canoes and are also trained in First Aid, CPR, and the operation of VHF radios. Our guides are overqualified for the safety of this experience so that you can fully enjoy the tour.
Check out our guide profiles to learn more about the various personalities of the Canoes for Conservation program.
How far away from shore will we be?
Canoe tours will always be in sightline with the shore and rarely be further than 10 m away. Most of the ecology and culture we will be interpreting will be most visible while near shore and it's this down to the water perspective that offers our participants the most intimate viewing of local features. Our guides will also offer views with binoculars to view distant on land features. Lastly, being closer to shore allows for quick exit of the waterway should the weather turn for the worse or in any other safety related reason we need to get onto shore quickly.
Why is the age of children restricted to 4-14?
We love to have children learning more about our local ecology, culture, and heritage. Therefore we offer specific tours and pricing to make the experience much more accessible and catered to youth. We require that children are at least 4 and greater than 30 lbs/14 kg so that they are properly fitted with our children PFDs. Children who aren’t able to paddle are welcome to sit in one of the middle seats.
What are the meals like?
Tours >3 hours will include a “Taste of The North”. This is a sampler of local foods that have ties to the educational experience we offer. We wouldn’t describe it as a meal because it is comprised of finger foods that change in availability with the seasonality of local harvests, but it is certainly enough to (re)fuel your body after our paddling.
What do you do with garbage on the tour?
We are completely waste free!
Tell us more about the Big Canoe!
Our 26 foot canoe was constructed by Ralph Frese, who himself was a conservationist. He built our canoe about 40 years ago and designed it to authentically replicate the bark canoes documented by Edwin Tappan Adney. Canoes have attracted many naturalists and conservationists because of their direct connection with our environment. Bark canoes in our region were sustainably created from niche components of our forests. Big canoes further exemplify this innovative and environmentally sustainable design, by expanding the carrying capacity and seaworthiness of the canoe. Many people ask us about our big canoe in admiration of its construction that is also deeply rooted in the history of our region. Few modes of travel so ancient still exist and are still used in the same way. For comparison, archaeological evidence suggests that the canoe was invented 5000 years prior to the invention of the wheel!
Our 36 foot canoe was constructed by Glen Fallis in Millbrook, Ontario. The canoe design is based off of the designs most used in the fur trade in the North. Suited to carry 1000s of pounds, this canoe is one of the most stable canoes available for touring.
Am I able to pay in person?
Our online booking system accounts for the seating available in the canoe. Walk-ups aren’t guaranteed seats on the canoe for this reason. However, if you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org we can reserve you a spot and take cash payment.
Do you bring a radio?
Portable radio communication is limited along the Superior coast, but guides will often carry a hand-held VHF marine radio. Most guided trips also carry an EPIRB (satellite signaling device), SPOT satellite messenger or satellite phone so that help can be contacted in case of an emergency.
Do I Tip My Guide?
Just like anything in the service industry, you tip according to good service. If you think that your guide did a good job then you are more than welcome to reward them with a tip. Suggested tip amounts? Depending on length of trip and satisfaction with service, anywhere from 5-15% is fine.
What happens if my tour gets cancelled? How will I be notified?
You will receive an email in the inbox of the address you provided in the booking process. If you see a forecast of heavy rain, winds, or lightning on your tour day, please check your email to see whether your tour is cancelled.We will notify you and issue a full refund if the minimum capacity of the canoe is not reached.