Paddling the Route of the Voyageurs
In our modern lives, adventure is something we seek and schedule. For most of us, adventure is a choice. However, for the Voyageurs in in the mid 1700’s through the mid 1800’s, adventure was a way of life. The French Canadian paddlers were legendary for their enduring power and gritty toughness as they moved furs and other goods via the natural waterways of the northwest territories – often for up to 16 hours a day.
Rainy Lake and Rainy River were common stops along the Voyageurs highway, which linked the great lakes to the interior of the country. Today, these same canoe routes exist virtually unchanged since the days of the Voyageurs, offering visitors to Rainy Lake and Rainy River the chance to adventure through history.
Before grabbing your paddle, take time to research and plan your trip. A good place to begin is the Voyageurs National Park Rainy Lake Visitor Center, where you’ll find historical information, maps, regulations and advice for following the path of the intrepid voyageur. What’s more, the center offers the opportunity to paddle back in history aboard a 26-foot North Canoe, where groups can explore the life of the voyageur, complete with paddle salutes and rowing songs.
If you have your own canoe or kayak, remember to stop at one of the park’s visitor centers for guidelines and safety recommendations before launching. Be sure to consider is the weather conditions as well, since Rainy Lake’s many islands and open water can lead to quickly-developing storms. If you plan on exploring the Canadian side of Rainy, you’ll need the required identification and other documentation.
Hire it Out
If you’re not familiar with the area, or you don’t have a boat and other equipment, you can work with a local outfitter, who will provide everything you need, from canoe or kayak, to paddles, life jackets, and possibly even shore lunch! Many will even paddle along with you, pointing out landmarks, significant islands and outlets.
The Voyageurs left behind very little, other than tales of strength and endurance that have been handed down through generations. If you follow in their paddle strokes, be sure that you also bring home only stories and memories, which, after all, is true to the path of the voyageur.
Plan your Trip
We look forward to your upcoming visit to the Rainy Lake area! We are available to help with lodging and other accommodations. Reach out and Plan your Trip!