A Paddler's Guide to Weekend Wilderness Adventures in Southern Ontario


168 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55046-415-9
DDC 797.1'22'09713




Reviewed by Monika Rohlmann

Monika Rohlmann is an environmental consultant in Victoria, B.C.


Kevin Callan is Ontario’s only full-time “canoehead” (as he calls
himself) and a leading author of canoe books (he has eight books to his
credit). He paddles before he writes, a good virtue for producing
useful, backpack-sized

book guides. His canoe partners include not only other canoeheads such
as his outdoorsy wife, Alana, but families with children, teenagers, and
seniors. This makes the guides all the more practical.

Generally, all books have their routes organized in chapters beginning
with the southernmost route and ending with the routes further north.
Each route is shown on a detailed map indicating the main and
alternative routes, access points, campsites, and portages. At the end
of each route chapter are details outlining the amount of time required
for the paddle, level of difficulty, fees, outfitters, suitability for
kayaking, and useful addresses for obtaining maps and other route and
wilderness information. Photographs are included in almost every

The Ontario guide describes 15—that is, three novice, eight moderate,
and four high level—of Ontario’s best (most wild) canoe routes
between Peterborough and Thunder Bay (including one in Algonquin Park).

Ontario’s Cottage Country is an update to the 1993 Cottage Country
Routes. It includes more routes and more maps for paddling in the areas
of Georgian Bay, Muskoka, Haliburton Highlands, and the Kawarthas.

Who knew there could be 20 canoe routes in Algonquin Park alone? The
majority of these routes require only novice to moderate paddling

Ontario’s Lost Canoe Routes are all well north of Peterborough.
Originally inspired by a desire to get away from the crowded, popular
provincial parks, the 2002 edition of the guide helped to highlight the
government neglect over wilderness areas and the destruction of the
Canadian canoe culture. In this updated edition Callan happily reports
on the efforts of various people and organizations who have adopted
maintenance and cleanup work.

Paddling under highway bridges and alongside farmland may not be
everyone’s idea of a weekend getaway, but it’s surprising how few
canoeists you’ll meet on the more urban waterways. Weekend Wilderness
Adventures in Southern Ontario is a gem for those who don’t care for
the highway congestion required to reach the more popular wilderness
routes in Central and Northern Ontario. From London to Sudbury, 20
mostly novice routes are detailed.

Fifteen rivers in Ontario and five in Quebec are included in The Rivers
of Ontario and Quebec. All are rivers (rather than lake loops), the
majority of which are clustered in the border area, but also included
are several routes west of Sault Ste. Marie.

The layout of each guide is excellent. The reference material is clear
and the maps accurate. Within the six books a total of 110 canoe routes
are dissected and categorized (with almost no overlap between the
various texts). Callan is not only a seasoned canoeist, but also an
excellent photographer, writer, and, as he cynically describes himself,
“wilderness pornographer.” How many more rivers can he document?
Will the exposure he has brought to canoeing spell the end of the
solitude canoeists desire? Luckily, his books are highly

One can’t go wrong with any of these guides; the only problem is
deciding which best suits your needs.


Callan, Kevin., “A Paddler's Guide to Weekend Wilderness Adventures in Southern Ontario,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/14442.