Sea Kayak Rossport to Pukaskwa
Group of Seven Landscapes
Dates, Prices & Book:
The sea kayak route on Lake Superior’s north shore from Rossport to Pukaskwa National Park is an infrequently visited gem of island-to-island paddling, open coastline and quiet bays and coves. The wild, rugged terrain and expansive horizons inspired iconic canvases by Group of Seven artists Lawren Harris, Franklin Carmichael, A.J. Casson and A.Y. Jackson.
Near Rossport, we’ll visit the black sand beach at Worthington Bay, where Ojibwa people painted red ochre pictographs on a cliff face. Further along, the narrow channel at Le Petits Ecrits was another significant First Nations site. Voyageurs once camped at Bottle and Cork coves, two small inlets on an otherwise cliff-bound coast where brigades of paddlers once hauled their 36-foot Montreal canoes ashore for the night.
The ghost town of Jackfish—once an important stop on Canadian Pacific Railway—was a favourite haunt of Harris and Carmichael. Harris focused his creative eye on the gentle curves of St. Patrick Island, while Carmichael painted a landscape of a bustling village on the shore of Lake Superior. Today, we’ll wander amongst Jackfish’s ruins and rediscover the artists’ viewpoints.
We found that, at times, there were skies over the great Lake Superior which, in their singing expansiveness and sublimity, existed nowhere else in Canada.
The scenery becomes even more spectacular at Neys Provincial Park. Time permitting, we may to hike up to the hilltop where Harris painted his famous 1926 painting, Pic Island. The sweeping topography of this stunning island dominates the view from our campsite on the Coldwell Peninsula. This wilderness area is also home to woodland caribou, an endangered species.
Next up is a detour to Port Coldwell, a forgotten fishing village where Harris’ Icehouse (1923) canvas recalls a simpler time. Further along we’ll pass Detention Island, one of several former World War II prisoner-of-war camps. Raised cobble beaches and beautiful sand beaches lead us to the modern-day town of Marathon.
This is a trip for paddlers in good shape with previous paddling and wilderness camping experience. It begins with a ½ day group paddling safety/skills session and orientation. Daily paddling distances range from 10 to 26 kilometres (average 19 km/12mi); the itinerary includes a day to accommodate rough weather or a more relaxed or exploratory group pace. There are a number of exposed sections but no crossings.
Most participants go out in single sea kayaks although occasionally we open trips to less experienced paddlers in double sea kayaks. You’ll be responsible for carrying a portion of the group gear in your kayak, along with your tent, sleeping bag, personal gear and food.
Our guides are drawn from outdoor adventure/recreation programs or are teachers and outdoor professionals. They are certified with Wilderness Advanced First Aid (40 hrs), our own established Sea Kayak Guide Course and sea kayak advanced skills and instructor programs certified by Paddle Canada. Many return to work for us year after year. They are all great paddlers with a love and appreciation for Lake Superior’s heritage, history and ecology.
Read more about The Group of Seven’s North Shore.