The solo canoe comes alive on small rivers, awakened by the intimacy of the river’s tight curves and the whisper of the gentle current, suddenly raging as the rocky bed drops out from under it, often without advance revelation.
The solo canoe is perfectly suited to this environment, as the sailboat is to the open sea, the kayak is to turbulent waters and the freighter canoe is to the Canadian lake.
Paddling a canoe across a calm, remote Canadian Lake is a surreal experience; the open panorama of the forested shoreline and hillsides displaying either countless shades of green, the equally countless colours of an autumn forest or the sombre grey of the shoulder seasons. Fish break the surface, moose feed along its shoreline and the haunting cry of the loon echoes off the surrounding hills. It’s beautiful. But, it lacks the connection found only in the close quarters of small rivers.
Immersion in the environment on a small river is complete, nature caressing your skin, your paddle, your canoe, as you slowly paddle past banks of lush plants, overhanging trees and beaver lodges, songbirds and innumerable insects flitting across your path. Your eyes focus on minute details rather than on vast, open vistas, and yet another beaver dam forces you to exit your canoe, planting your feet on, or rather, in, soft, aromatic ground, or on twisted bedrock and loose boulders, stained dark by the tannins in the water.
I love Canadian wilderness in all of its forms; the hills, mountains, seas, lakes big and small and the endless forests, but it’s the small rivers that hold my heart.