If you want to go canoeing in Canada, one place that is little known outside of Nova Scotia is Kejimkujik National Park in the southwestern part of the province. Kejimkujik is best explored by canoe or kayak. There are hiking trails but they’re heavily wooded and don’t have nearly the same appeal for me as exploring the waterways.
Paddling the Mersey River in Kejimkujik National Park
If you’re new to canoeing or kayaking then start with an easy paddle on the Mersey River. Work on your strokes and then head for the bigger water. It’s easy to rent canoes and kayaks for just an hour or two at the dock at Jake’s Landing from Whynot Adventure (though longer term options are also available.)
I spent about an hour and a half paddling and poking about in a kayak on the Mersey River last weekend. It felt more like I was paddling in a swamp in southern Georgia – minus the Spanish moss and alligators.
The Mersey River was a major transportation route for the Mi’Kmaq people for centuries. They’d head to the coast every summer where the river empties and spend the summer fishing and collecting seafood. When you paddle the river you can’t help but wonder about all the people who came before you.
Every year the Mersey River floods – and that flooding feeds a landscape filled with blue-joint grass, red maples and speckled alders. If you’re lucky you might see a white-tailed deer browsing in the maples – or catch some turtles sunning on a log.
The woman in the photo below unprompted stated that the Mersey River is her favourite place on the planet.
If you’re more into excitement and waves, big water and wind then head with your canoe for Kejimkujik Lake.
Kejimkujik Lake is huge. And it’s shallow so whitecaps can form quickly making it a treacherous place to be when the wind picks up. The lake is dotted with islands – many of which boast campsites that can be reserved months in advance. In fact there are 46 backcountry campsites scattered along canoe routes and on hiking trails. Each campsite has a picnic table, a pit privy, two tent pads, firewood (bring an axe though) and a food storage set-up of some sort.
There is a lot more to paddle than just Kejimkujik Lake. It’s really a paddlers dream area Cody Whynot enthusiastically tells me – with all lakes and rivers linked with portages to that it’s possible to create circuits that could take you many weeks if you were so inclined. That type of trip would include waters that make up part of the Tobeatic Wilderness Area – an area with over 1,000 square kilometres.
After reading the delightful book that has made me smile and chuckle over and over again despite my lack of interest in fishing – The Tent Dwellers: Sports Fishing in Nova Scotia in 1908 by Albert Bigelow Paine – you might just want to set out on a longer canoe trip.
Other posts related to my Nova Scotia trip you might like:
- Don’t Miss a Stay at the Cape D’Or Lighhouse in Nova Scotia
- Lobster and Beaches in Halls Harbour, Nova Scotia
- One of Nova Scotia’s Great Day Hikes: The Hike to Cape Split
- A Phenomenal Kayaking Trip Near Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
- Visiting Nova Scotia: Don’t Miss Peggy’s Cove
- 45 Random Observations About Nova Scotia
- A 3 Day Hike on the Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail
Please note: Cody at Whynot Adventure kindly comped me a kayak for the few days I was in the area to explore. I did however do all the exploring at my own pace and by myself. The kayak was a fun little thing to paddle – maneuverable and steady but not really designed for more than day trips. Rent a canoe if you want to spend more time exploring.