Dumoine River Guide
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO PADDLE THE DUMOINE… and FUN BITS YOU DIDN'T NEED TO KNOW.
WHO MANAGES THE DUMOINE WATERSHED?
IN THE BEGINNING
The first thing you should always do as a wilderness traveller is to learn and acknowledge the ancestral rights of the First Nations whose traditional territory encompasses the watersheds you plan to travel through.
Since time immemorial the Ottawa River watershed has been the home of the Algonquin Nation, part of the Anishnabe people. Historically, each major Ottawa River tributary had a group of 8-12 families, a "band" that called that tributary its home. Within that band each family unit had a hunting territory of approximately 800 square miles.
The Dumoine Band cared for and harvested the wildlife in the Dumoine watershed for centuries. With European contact circa 1600, trading furs for manufactured goods altered the travel patterns. Beginning in 1840, logging destroyed the last remnants of that lifestyle and the Dumoine band migrated to Wolf Lake/Kipawa by 1900.
Today the Dumoine watershed remains the traditional territory of the Wolf Lake First Nation based at Hunters Point in Kipawa. This is unceded territory, in that, no treaty between Canada or Quebec and the Algonquin Nation was ever signed. Traditionally the Algonquin Territory spanned both parts of the Ottawa River however, independently the Algonquins of Ontario have signed their own treaty with Ontario.
The Dumoine River forms the political boundary between Pontiac County to the east and Temiscamingue County to the west. Many Quebec Ministries are involved in the regions management www.mffp.gouv.qc.ca.
In 1978 the The Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune`s created a system of not for profit groups who, under contract, manage for recreational purposes large tracts of land in Quebec called ZECs - Zones d`Exploitation Contrôlée.
These groups mostly manage the recreational activities of hunting and fishing through stocking, managing hunting and fishing limits, influencing habitat of the wildlife and controlling access by maintaining roads and access points.
They have the right to charge for camping and do so for vehicle based camping but do not yet charge for wilderness self propelled camping. They do however, charge $10 each for a road pass to enter the ZEC.
The west side of the Dumoine River is managed by www.zecdumoine.reseauzec.com from their office at the entrance to the village of Rapides des Joachims.
The east side of the Dumoine is managed by www.zecrapidesdesjoachims.reseauzec.com from their office at kilometre one on the Dumoine road, as you exit the village. You need to register at each ZEC and pay a $10 road fee/vehicle, unless you are using a shuttle driver who purchased a seasons pass.
You need a ZEC fishing licence and a Quebec fishing licence to fish in a ZEC. The ZEC territory begins around the Dumoine Club halfway down the river.
There is excellent walleye, pike and some bass fishing in the Dumoine and speckled trout in specific lakes in the watershed but not in the river.
ABOUT DUMOINE RIVER: THE THREE SISTERS
The Dumoine is often referred to as one of the ‘Three Sister Rivers’ along with the Coulonge and Noire.
The phrase ‘three sisters’ refers to the Huron story about how the three vegetables Beans, Corn and Squash were always planted together because they symbiotically supported one another like family should.
Corn formed the stock for the beans to climb, beans added nitrogen to the soil to assist the corn and squash to grow and the squash provided ground shade to keep weeds from growing and competing with the corn.
The three sister river options support each other by dispersing travel and promoting good wilderness ethics.
The Dumoine has received Wild River reserve status from the Government of Quebec, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Friends of Riviére du Moine and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Ottawa Valley Chapter. CPAWS-OV-VO.org
*The three sisters could easily be expanded to include five rivers by adding the Kipawa and Maganasipi Rivers in Pontiac-Temiscamingue.
The Dumoine/Noire/Coulonge all find their source in the lakes of La Verendrye Park and flow south to the Ottawa River. The Kipawa and Maganasipi also flow into the Ottawa but flow west of Lac Dumoine.
Should you wish to express your desire to keep the Dumoine wild and protected, the elected federal official for Pontiac County is: Liberal member Sophie Chatel firstname.lastname@example.org
And for Abitibi-Témiscamingue:
- Bloc Québecois member: Sebastien Lemire email@example.com
- Liberal member: Andre Fortin andre.fortin.PONT@assnat.qc.ca
Elected official for Rouyn - Noranda - Témiscamingue is:
- Quebec solitaire member: Emilise Lessard-Therrin: emilise.Lessard-Therrien.RNT@assnat.qc.ca
In Anishnabe legend, Lac Dumoine is a very famous lake. Its name, Aygina-gwasing, means "turn back or go home" lake.
Four large arms or bays and a main body make up Lac Dumoine:
- The south arm leads down to the Dumoine River,
- The northeast arm leads over to the Coulonge via the Moose River,
- Two north arms lead to Grande Lac Victoria and link with historic routes along watersheds flowing north to James Bay and east to the St Maurice River.
- The west arm leads to the Kipawa/Fildegrande/Maganasipi/Lac Temiscamingue/Temagami routes.
The lake itself, the Algonquin legend has it, was carved out by the giant character ‘Nanabush the Trickster’ as he pursued a prehistoric beaver all the way over to Calumet Island.
Whether you believe in legends or not Lac Dumoine is definitely todays gateway to all of the longer Dumoine canoe trip options.
PLANNING A ONE TO TWENTY DAY DUMOINE TRIP
The best way to plan a Dumoine Canoe Trip is to:
- Decide on how many paddling days you have for your trip.
- Add in a day at each end to arrive at the put in and return home.
- Start planning the logistics for your A/ entrance, B/ exit and C/ canoe trip.
Let's look at the trip options from one day to two weeks.
THE EXIT POINTS FOR ALL TRIPS ARE THE SAME AS DAY TRIP LAUNCH POINTS
The mouth of the Dumoine is two kilometres across from Driftwood Provincial Park www.ontarioparks.com on Ontario`s Highway 17.
This is a popular long term parking site ($14/night) for any long Dumoine River Trip and a perfect day use launch site for Dumoine Day Trips.
The first five kilometres of the Dumoine, paddling up from the mouth, is a popular day trip for flat water canoeists and kayakers looking to explore the Quebec Shore.
DUMOINE TOTE ROAD HIKING TRAIL
In May of 2022, a new hiking trail will open linking the Ottawa River and Grande Chute, 26 kilometres up the west shore of the Dumoine.
You can now plan your day trip, or a rest day on a long canoe trip, to include hiking a portion of this trail. You can cache your canoe at one of the three lower campsites on the flat water portion of the Dumoine, up from the mouth and day or overnight hike as far north as you wish.
You may also wish to plan the five day combo:
Hike up to Grande Chute and paddle back to Driftwood Park.
Contact Friends of Riviere du Moine for details firstname.lastname@example.org. A guide map will be available in 2022.
The trail has twelve new campsites on it .Take a day or two to explore new vistas of the Dumoine. Etienne from Guides de la Vallée Dumoine will pick you up in his pontoon boat anywhere along this stretch: email@example.com.
CANOE TRIP OPTIONS
Dumoine River trips are usually divided into three types:
10-21 Day trips that access Lac Dumoine from
the northeast, La Verendrye Park
or west, Kipawa Reserve
3-4 days starting at Benoit Bridge/Lac Benoit
5-7 days starting from Ten Mile lake/North River or L`Orignal (Moose) River
2-3 days starting at the Dumoine Club or Robinson Lake.
An essential part of any trip is hiring a reliable shuttle driver (or friend). You definitely want your vehicle to be waiting for you safe and sound at your chosen takeout, usually Driftwood Provincial Park.
A parking fee of $14/day/car over a long trip can add up to a 20-30% of the cost of a shuttle. When you add in other things covered by the shuttle driver like road ZEC fees, gas, insurance, vehicle wear, tire repairs, mufflers, towing fees and the stress of navigating bush roads… A SHUTTLE IS A BARGIN.
Don't forget an extra set of keys.
The Local economy in a small village like Rapides des Joachims depends on tourism.
When you buy your gas, food, camping permits, road passes and a shuttle locally you are contributing to the local economy. This is a factor self propelled tourists often tend to minimize vs other user groups you will meet in the Dumoine Valley; hunters, fishers, snowmobilers, cabin owners, A.T.V and S.U.V campers.
Almost all other user groups contribute more to the ZEC and local economies than we paddlers, skiers and hikers do… that weakens our voice at the planning table when wilderness use and preservation is discussed.
PLEASE DO YOUR PART AND SHOP LOCALLY.
HOW IT WORKS
There are two shuttle companies in Rapides des Joachims serving the Dumoine-Kipawa Valleys:
1. Etienne Desnoyers: www.dumoinevalley.ca firstname.lastname@example.org (613 586 2300).
2. Noel Leclerc: www.dumoine-exp.ca email@example.com (613 717 0115).
And two more near Ft Coulonge serving Coulonge - Noire Valleys:
3. Esprit: www.whitewater.ca, firstname.lastname@example.org based at Davidson, QC on the Ottawa River.
4. Aventure Riviére Sauvage: www.expeditionsrivierenoire.com (613-639-2276) based in Waltham, QC on the Noire River.
Obviously these companies specialize in the shuttles closest to their base camps but there is some crossover, especially for the 7-14 day trips starting in Kipawa and La Verendrye.
If your planning to end your trip at Driftwood Provincial Park you can arrange for your shuttle to start there with a pickup or if you'd like to save on the parking fee you can park at the shuttle drivers home base and pay a small extra shuttle fee to have them move your car to Driftwood the day you plan to come out.
SHUTTLE AND RENTAL EX TEMISCAMINGUE
www.algonquincanoe.com is an outfitting and retail store based at the foot of Lac Temiscamingue in Thorne Ontario. Their name “Algonquin Canoe” signifies proud Indigenous ownership/management - not a reference to the provincial park. They rent Esquif canoes and offer unique Algonquin based guiding and route description experiences based on their heritage.
UNIQUE BOAT SHUTTLE
One outfitter, Etienne Desnoyers: email@example.com (613 586-2300), offers a unique way to end your Dumoine paddling trip or start your Dumoine Hiking Trip.
From his base in Rapides des Joachims… “Swisha” you can take a pontoon boat trip to or from any of the lower campsites on the Dumoine Tote Road Hiking Trail to start your hike north.
You can also get your canoe crew picked up at any of the campsites below Ryans Chute and get boat shuttled back to Driftwood or Etienne`s Base in “Swisha” saving the flatwater paddle (6-12 km). Etienne also offers cabin rentals to start or end your trip.
Etienne specializes in shuttles to Grande Chute, Dumoine Club, Benoit Bridge and the Kipawa/White River drop points and administers the Friends of Dumoine Canoe Rentals. Fifty percent of this rental fee goes toward the work friends of Dumoine do in the watershed.
Shuttle prices are based on the group size, extra services requested and mileage involved from the base camp. You must also factor in getting to their base camp, parking and if you wish "a tip is always appreciated".
All these companies have been doing this since the 1980s and are competitively priced. All of the outfitters rent canoes. The age/type/quality of the rental gear and shuttle vehicles can vary quite a bit. It's a tough business on equipment so temper your expectations. All the companies are reliable and will refer you to each other if overbooked.
MOST POPULAR SHUTTLE DROP POINTS
2-3 day Trip
I. Grande Chute/Robinson Lake or
ll. Moody Lake (Dumoine Club)
…both 1.5 hour shuttle from Rapides des Joachims
3-4 day Trip
III. Benoit Bridge /Lac Benoit…3 hour shuttle from Rapides des Joachims
5-7 day Trip
IV. Ten Mile Lake/North River...5 hour shuttle from Rapides des Joachims by Noel Leclerc only.
V. Lac Joncas/L`Orignal/Moose River…5 hour shuttle ex Davidson by Esprit
VI. White Pine Lake or Garden River route to Kipawa River (4 hour shuttle from Rapides des Joachims by both companies).
Two Week Trips Historic Watershed Routes (Map)
Lac Dumoine was a major junction for everyone travelling up and down the Dumoine to trade. The first recorded recreational trip originated from Camp Keewaydin on Lake Temagami.
In 1908 they travelled in cedar canvas canoes to Stonecliffe on the Ottawa River via the Montreal, Kipawa and Dumoine Rivers. They still do this route today.
Two popular two week options are:
1. From Lake Temiscamingue or Lake Temagami or Lac Kipawa across the Kipawa Reserve lakes up the Kipawa River to Lac Dumoine and down the Dumoine.
For a more relaxed trip you may want to include a car camping visit to the Parks Canada`s Historic Site, Fort Temiscamingue and Quebec`s new Parc national d`Opémican (between Kipawa and Lac Temiscamingue) and then start paddling in Kipawa Reserve closer to the trading post at Hunters Point.
2. From La Verendrye Parks Grande Lac Victoria to the Ottawa via Lac aux Ecorces/Lac Dumoine`s Baie aux Chicots /Dumoine River.
There was a major Hudson Bay Trading Post and Catholic Mission on Grande Lac Victoria that attracted traders from the James Bay and La Maurice River watersheds as well as traders and priests travelling up the Dumoine to the mission and post. You can experience this historic route.
GUIDE BOOKS AND MAPS
A guide book or map is just that ‘a guide’.
You will be experiencing the Dumoine with your own unique set of circumstances to do with weather, fatigue, skills, weight of load and previous experience.
You must evaluate every days goals and every rapid relative to your set of conditions not the guide books.
The Dumoine is a class one to five whitewater river with a minimum of 8 portages around the class 3+to 6 rapids/falls. You need previous whitewater experience (or a professional guide) and proper whitewater canoeing equipment to enjoy a Dumoine Canoe Trip.
There are three good guide booklets or maps you can safely use as a planning guide:
1. Hap Wilson`s Dumoine River (1987, revised 1992 ) and Rivers of the Upper Ottawa (2004): Excellent well written and illustrated …the first is out of print but the material is included in the Rivers of the Upper Ottawa which is available and also includes information on the Kipawa and Petawawa Rivers (English only).
2. Fédération Québécoise du Canot-Camping Carte-Guide Riviére Dumoine (1986): This booklet is part of a series of guides ,that when combined with others, can give you the complete route from Grande lac Victoria or other starting points in La Verendrye Park (French Only)
3. Wally Schaber Riviére Dumoine Guide Map (2002): This waterproof, bilingual map offers detailed information on the rapids and campsites as well as historic points of interest.
A new guide map for the river and the new Dumoine Hiking Trail is due out in 2022.
The 1:50,000 Topographic Maps for the route Lac Dumoine to Driftwood provincial Park are 31K/4, 31K/5, 31K/12, 31K/13.
TWENTY POINTS OF INTEREST YOU SHOULD NOT MISS FROM LAC LAFORGE TO THE OTTAWA RIVER
The guidebooks and maps mentioned above offer great illustrations and descriptions about each rapids you will encounter.
I just want to highlight the portages around class 4+ rapids and some historic and natural highlights well worth your time to search out.
NORTH TO SOUTH
1. Alligator Point
There is a beautiful peninsula campsite in the middle of Lac Laforge you should try to use. If you walk to the mainland end of the this site, in the bush are the remains of two Alligator Boats.
2. At the end of Lac Laforge is Manitou Falls. It has two drops separated by a 50m paddle. The first portage is on river right and the second on river left.
3. There is good pickerel fishing in Upper and Lower Lac Laforge. At the end of the second portage a 150 years ago a logger JP PAQUETTE carved his name into the shoreline rock. See if you can find it!
4. Soon you will enter a series of class I-II rapids that lead you to the brink of a Class 3+ drop. You must portage this on the river left and its best to track the last 50m to a flat rock shoreline. This is the beginning of three portages & is also a nice campsite.
5. Triple Play Portage: It is tempting to run the class two rapids between portage one and two in this series of three. Most people portage their packs the entire way around these three portages and paddle solo or tandem the middle rapid… evaluate the risk.
6. The end of the rough ‘Triple Play or Grunt Portage’ is another good fishing hole.You are 500m above the Benoit Bridge shuttle road if you are meeting someone or need an emergency exit point. Paddle slowly along the left shore. About 50m from the end of the portage is a carving by surveyor ‘P.A.M 1912’ (Paul Malourin). He left his signature here on a horizontal slab of granite.
7. Benoit Bridge is the Dumoine's most popular starting point. Gravel road 819 comes 80 km from Kipawa/Temiscamingue with a link to Swisha 5 km from the bridge. It was built in the early 1980s and was supposed to link with another gravel road coming from Maniwaki. Thankfully, that road was diverted North leaving the Dumoine wild. Lac Benoit below the bridge rapids features several large campsites.
8. There is a ledge below the second rapids exiting lac Benoit. Most people portage on the river right.
9. In 1985, after many bent and broken Trailhead canoes I named the third rapids below Lac Benoit “Canoe Eater” and told the guides they must portage their gear before paddling it.
With today's skills and equipment most people run Canoe Eater, but you'd be still wise to lighten your load by portaging your packs to the beautiful campsite below Canoe Eater.
10. The 1860 maps call the entire stretch from Benoit to Burnt Island Lake “Long Rapids” and that's what the day seems like, one long rapid. The loggers had three special names within this stretch… Little Steel, Big Steel and the Horserace.
11. Little Steel is a long rapids beginning with an easy class 1-2 rapids leading into a challenging big hole corner, below the island, and ending in Little Steel Falls. You must portage the falls on the left. The trail ends at a nice campsite. Most people portage their gear and run the bottom of the falls empty after a 200m canoe carry around the upper drop.
12. Burnt Island is a beautiful small Island campsite in the middle of a lake below Little Steel. In 1984 the entire island burned because a careless camper didn’t properly extinguish their campfire. It's grown back now but ‘remember the lesson of Burnt Island’. There is a log ramp barely visible along the left shore before Burnt Island. In the winter the loggers would stack the logs above this rollaway, then into the spring floodwaters roll the logs down the ramp into the current.
13. Big Steel and The Horserace. An hour paddle Below Burnt Island you will come to the start of Big Steel rapids and the Horserace. If you walk up the path 50m to the right of the cabin you will see the only logger's cross left on the river.
From this point to the bridge before the Dumoine Club there is part of an old wagon road that went all the way to Lac Dumoine. The loggers, driving a horse drawn wagon, would challenge any paddler willing to wager, to a race from the grave to the bridge, thus the name "Horserace".
For the paddlers the racecourse distance includes Big Steel, a class 2-3 corner, then a mile of class one swifts and a mile of flat water.
14. Dumoine Rod and Gun Club www.dumoine.com You are coming to a calm 15 km stretch of the river with several old cabins along the shore. A five hundred square mile section of the Dumoine Valley was once the private fishing and hunting domain of the Dumoine Club members (1918-1976). There were hundreds of similar leases in Quebec.
In 1978 they were all cancelled and replaced by the ZEC management system. The buildings at the Dumoine Club date back to 1860 when they were part of the Hamilton Lumber Companies series of supply farms for their logging shanties.
There is a phone and an emergency exit option at the Dumoine Club.
15. Grande Chute Portage - the most magnificent natural feature on the river and the most important site for the Dumoine logging era is Grande Chute. There is a compulsory 1km portage here with four beautiful campsites along and below the falls.
At one time the longest timber slide in the world floated logs past the five rapids that make up Grande Chute. This is the north end of the Dumoine Hiking trail and another emergency exit point.
16. Robinson Lake - 2 km below Grande Chute is a popular weekend starting point. Several signs along the Tote Road trail explain the colourful history of Robinson Lake.
17. Red Pine Rapids - This series of five rapids with five campsites is now considered quite passable by experienced canoeists. Only the third set and a ledge at the beginning of the last set are considered challenging.
The Tote road hiking trail goes along the west side of the entire five rapids giving less experienced paddlers the option to portage.
18. Foreman's Farm, Potvin Farm, Bertrand Farm and Dufoe Farm - There were four homestead farms called Stopping Places that hosted travellers walking or driving teams of horsed up and down the Dumoine Tote Road. They were all named after the family that ran the stopping place.
The most northerly one was a lumber depot farm at Robinson Lake, the next 1 km below Red Pine Rapids was Potvin Farm, the third was Bertrand`s at the mouth of the Fildegrande and the most southerly one was Dufoes a farm, boom house and ferry stop at the mouth of the Dumoine.
Stop and explore all four. :)
19. Patton Chute and Ryan's Chute - There are two portages left, one is a lift over on the right over a large granite outcrop. This is a nice campsite with tent sites in the woods along the hiking trail.
The other is Ryan`s Chute on river left. Ryan Lumber Company was the first to cut timber here in 1840. You will pass the mouth of the Fildegrande and Bald Eagle Cliff 1km below Patton Chute. (The image below shows leftover around Patton Chute.)
There is a hiking trail to the top of Bald Eagle Cliff that begins at a creek on the left shore 150m past the cliff.
Areal view showing the mouth of the Fildegrande and Bald Eagle Cliff turn:
View of Bald Eagle Cliff from River:
View from Bald Eagle Cliff:
20. Drowned Rapids - The entire 4 km between Ryans Chute and the mouth of the Dumoine used to be a class 1-3 rapids prior to the building of the Rapides des Joachims Hydro Dam in 1950.
The dam created Holden Lake, a 50km Head Pond Lake that goes all the way to Mattawa and 4 km up the Dumoine. There use to be a beautiful beach and trading site at the mouth used by the First Nations, then French and finally the HBCO before it was converted to Dufoe`s Farm and Boom house. (see B&W air photo below)
TRAIL MAINTENANCE AND CODE OF TRAVEL ETHICS
Up to 1965 the Dumoine Valley was patrolled by canoe and surveyed from fire towers by forest rangers watching for forest fires. They kept the portages free of deadfalls and campsites clean. In 1963, air patrols and water bombers replaced the forest fire towers and rangers.
Today it is river travellers like you and me that must keep the trails and campsites clean. In 2016, Friends of Dumoine put a wooden toilet called a thunder box on each campsite and together with the local guiding companies cleaned up all the campsites and portages.
Everyone that travels the river needs to volunteer and do their part… there are no more forest rangers:
- When you see a deadfall blocking the portage take the time to cut it away.
- Pick up any garbage you see on the trail or at the campsite and pack it home.
- Pre organize your food to minimize excess wrapping that can result in garbage.
- If you are a small group try and use a smaller less used campsite. Use the thunder boxes and keep them clean.
- Read about low impact camping techniques before your trip.
- If you are guiding a large group be extra mindful of the groups impact physically and socially on other peoples experience.
- Report any serious problems like a major deadfall, fire burn, washout, wildlife problem, overused campsite, destructive group etc to Friends of Dumoine: firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try and find a volunteer to fix the problem.
There are over a thousand paddlers that enjoy the Dumoine each year and the river remains a beautiful canoe camping experience. This is a tribute to the respect we hold for this river…. may it always be so.
GUIDING SERVICES, CAMPS, & CLUBS
There are many good companies and youth camps that offer guided canoe trips on the Dumoine River. You can search the internet for recommendations. Here are a few:
Mackenzie High School, Trekkers Program, Deep River, Students Only
CLUBS/ TRIPS FOR MEMBERS
Ottawa RA Camping Club www.raccc.ca
Wilderness Canoe Association www.wildernesscanoe.ca
Club de canot-camping Pierre Radisson www.canot-outaouais.ca
GENERAL INFORMATION WEBSITES
Quebec Road Conditions: www.quebec511.info
Ontario Road Conditions: www.mto.gov.on.ca
Weather link please add ZEC Dumoine: www.theweathernetwork.com
Madawaska Canoe School www.mkc.ca
Paddler Co-op www.paddlerco-op.ca
Boreal River Adventures www.borealriver.com
Black Feather www.blackfeather.com