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Walking to the Richelieu River

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Greetings from the Richelieu River! We portaged our canoe from the Ottawa River to the Richelieu, because that is what won the last Cast YOUR Vote. We loaded our canoe, Sig, onto our cart and walked for 14 miles instead of paddling 100 miles.

We found a nice road with a big shoulder to walk on. The road was quite flat and straight. Cars whizzed by. Part of our walk was on a sidewalk, past houses and stores. Whenever we saw someone else walking, they would comment on how surprised they were to see a canoe in the city or they would point to where the river was.

On Wednesday afternoon Amy and I took Sig off of the cart and carried it down a steep bank below a large cement bridge. We launched the canoe in a narrow stream lined with steep banks and large trees. It felt great to be on the water again, but then we fit our first rock. The water was cloudy and we couldn’t see the rocks lurking just under the surface. We quickly realized this stream that looked so inviting on the map was way too shallow to navigate—especially in a canoe covered in signatures.

After about 20 minutes of slow progress with lots of rock dodging we saw a man by the edge of the river and we stopped to ask him about the stream. We learned that the stream would be small and shallow for about five more miles. He said we were welcome to camp in his yard, so we set up our tent right there next to the stream.

That night we made a new plan. We looked at our map and found a route that did not involve paddling on the stream. If we walked for 5 more miles, we would reach the Richelieu. I had a hard time sleeping that night because I could hear traffic on the nearby road. I kept thinking about the hundreds of cars and trucks that had raced past us as we walked and the cloudy water in the stream that was too polluted to drink. It feels like we are a long ways from home. I miss northern Minnesota. Now I appreciate our clean water and wild spaces more than ever.

The next morning, we loaded Sig on the cart and began walking again. We passed many farms and entered the city of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Today, we launched our canoe in the Richelieu River and began paddling south. With the weather getting colder, we are glad to be heading south. Soon we will be back in the United States. I have always wanted to paddle on Lake Champlain, which is between Vermont and New York, bordered by Quebec in the north. We will be sure to tell all about paddling on this large lake next week!

 

Keep Exploring!

Dave

 

The post Walking to the Richelieu River appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.

Portage to the Richelieu

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10_27_14Student Response (Lower)

10_27_14Student Response (Upper)

Greetings from the Richelieu River! We portaged our canoe from Montreal to the Richelieu River, because that is what won the last Cast YOUR Vote. Portage means to carry a canoe and supplies over land from one body of water to another. We loaded our canoe, Sig, onto our cart and walked for 14 miles instead of paddling 100 miles.

We found a nice road with a big shoulder to walk on. The road was quite flat and straight. Cars whizzed by. Part of our walk was on a sidewalk, past houses and stores. Whenever we saw someone else walking, they would comment on how surprised they were to see a canoe in the city or they would point to where the river was.

Dave is portaging through a bit of road construction.

Dave is portaging through a bit of road construction.

On Wednesday afternoon Amy and I took Sig off of the cart and carried it down a steep bank below a large cement bridge. We launched the canoe in a narrow stream lined with steep banks and large trees. It felt great to be on the water again, but then we fit our first rock. The water was cloudy and we couldn’t see the rocks lurking just under the surface. We quickly realized this stream that looked so inviting on the map was way too shallow to navigate—especially in a canoe covered in signatures.

After about 20 minutes of slow progress with lots of rock dodging we saw a man by the edge of the river and we stopped to ask him about the stream. We learned that the stream would be small and shallow for about five more miles. He said we were welcome to camp in his yard, so we set up our tent right there next to the stream.

Amy takes down the tent near in their backyard campsite near the stream.

Amy takes down the tent near in their backyard campsite near the stream.

That night we made a new plan. We looked at our map and found a route that did not involve paddling on the stream. If we walked for 5 more miles, we would reach the Richelieu. I had a hard time sleeping that night because I could hear traffic on the nearby road. I kept thinking about the hundreds of cars and trucks that had raced past us as we walked and the cloudy water in the stream that was too polluted to drink. It feels like we are a long ways from home. I miss northern Minnesota. Now I appreciate our clean water and wild spaces more than ever.

The next morning, we loaded Sig on the cart and began walking again. We passed many farms and entered the city of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Today, we launched our canoe in the Richelieu River and began paddling south. With the weather getting colder, we are glad to be heading south. Soon we will be back in the United States. I have always wanted to paddle on Lake Champlain, which is between Vermont and New York, bordered by Quebec in the north. We will be sure to tell you all about paddling on this large lake next week!

 

Keep Exploring!

Dave

 

The post Portage to the Richelieu appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.

A Visit to Victoria Island

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10_20_14Student Response (Lower)

10_20_14Student Response (Upper)

 

We made it to Ottawa, the capital of Canada! I have some information about Victoria Island to share with you now! Remember, students voted in a recent Cast YOUR Vote for us to visit Victoria Island while we are in Ottawa. Thank you for choosing Victoria Island. It is an interesting place that is full of history.

 

The Ottawa River runs right past the city of Ottawa. This meant we paddled our canoe past the city. There are several sets of rapids on the river. We portaged around the first rapids, walking our canoe on the bike path. The next set of rapids was smaller, so we paddled through. Shortly after the rapids we could see the Parliament building and a dam. We had one more short portage to reach Victoria Island. Again, we walked along the bike path, pulling our canoe on wheels.

As we followed the quiet street downhill onto Victoria Island, we felt like we were leaving the traffic and bustle of the city behind and we were stepping back in time. There is green space on the island. There are also some old buildings and a place the First Peoples’ Village, where a group called Aboriginal Experiences teaches people about how Algonquin traditions and culture.

The view on Victoria Island, looking towards Parliament. The totem pole to the left came from British Columbia.

The view on Victoria Island, looking towards Parliament. The totem pole to the left came from British Columbia, Canada.

Victoria Island was the perfect place to launch our canoe when it was time to leave Ottawa. Before the dam was here, there was a large waterfall called Chaudière Falls that people portaged around. Long ago Algonquin people and later voyageurs portaged around Chaudière Falls here. Throughout history, the best place to portage has been Victoria Island.

Victoria Island was a meeting place for the Algonquin nation for thousands of years. The island was used as a place for gatherings, trading and celebrations. The Algonquin name for Victoria Island is Asinabka, which means Place of Glare Rock.

This is the First Peoples' Village on Victoria Island.

This is the First Peoples’ Village on Victoria Island.

If you look at a map of Victoria Island and Ottawa, you can see that three rivers come together here. The Gatineau River enters the Ottawa River from the north and the Rideau River enters from the south. No wonder it was an important meeting place!

In the 1800s to 1900s, Victoria Island was used for the lumber industry. Imagine logs floating in massive rafts down the Ottawa River. A massive pulp mill operated nearby, turning logs into pulp for paper. Another type of industry happened on Victoria Island. This was the site of the Wilson Carbide Mill and an electric power generating station.

This is the Wilson Carbide mill on Victoria Island.

This is the Wilson Carbide mill on Victoria Island.

We launched our canoe from Victoria Island a couple days ago. We were joined by six other canoes. A dozen people and two dogs joined us on the water. It was a pleasure to have so many people join us as we paddled past the Parliament and other historic sites along the Ottawa River. These nice people gave us a tour of Ottawa from the water! After a few miles of paddling with company, it was time to say goodbye. Dave and I are on our own as we continue on to Montreal.

 

Resources:

 

http://capitalneighbourhoods.ca/english/centretown-west/story-323.aspx

http://www.ottawatourism.ca/en/visitors/what-to-do/capital-heritage/aboriginal-experiences

http://www.pastottawa.com/tag/victoria-island/321/

http://www.ottawaplus.ca/ottawa/venues/victoria-island

http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=4634

http://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/hist/hull/rw_19e.shtml

 

 

 

The post A Visit to Victoria Island appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.

Garbage in the river

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Last week we collected all of our trash and found that we produced one large zip-lock bag of non-recyclable trash during the week. Most of the trash was plastic bags from food. Based on your suggestions we will try to refill containers with bulk foods like rice and dried beans rather than buying them in plastic bags to help reduce the amount of trash that we produce.

Unfortunately, as we paddle downstream from Ottawa we have started noticing a lot of trash in the river. At one of our campsites we found 3 times as much garbage as we produce in a week scattered along the edge of the river. It is really sad to see and we are not sure what we should do. We could spend all day searching the shoreline picking up trash, but then we would never make it to Washington D.C. before winter. However, it is sad to see trash in the river and we feel like we should be picking it up. What should we do? What would you do?

Keep Exploring!

Dave

The post Garbage in the river appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.