Abitibi River - Fraserdale to Moosonee
Distance: 130 km
Skill Level: Intermediate
The Abitibi River was a major route for the fur trade for the Hudsonís Bay Company in the 17 and 1800's. The name Abitibi comes from the Algonquin word meaning halfway water. This was in reference to the Abitibi Lakeís location halfway between the Hudson Bay and other tribal posts in the south. The riverís clay bottom is the result of glacial sand, clay and gravel which gives the water its distinct brownish color. On this wilderness river adventure you will be traveling the same water route that the Coureurs De Bois and Voyageurs did. The last section of this river is the one Chevalier Pierre DeTroy traveled to attack the Hudson Bay Trading Post, on James Bay, in 1696. He, with less than a hundred men, endured ice, rapids, sickness, and lengthy portages and, within less than ten weeks, executed a successful attack that took less than an hour.
You start your wilderness adventure at Fraserdale Canyon, situated on the Abitibi River. As you move down the river you will notice its high clay banks and quiet waterway as it twists through the dense Boreal Forest of North Eastern Ontario. First you will explore the Hudson Bay Companyís New Post grave site hidden along the river, in the forest. Graves date back to the early 1800's. Further downstream you'll pull in at the spectacular New Post Falls, truly one of Ontarioís most scenic sites. Water gushing through a split rock gorge drops some 120 metres to continue its path towards the Abitibi River. Your first night on the river is spent camped at the base of the falls. Youíll have plenty of time to explore the area.
Later,you move down river and set up camp at Otter Rapids before flagging down the legendary Polar Bear Express Train. The Express ride is a special treat in itself. This is a short run down the rail line to the Onakawana River, which allows you to bypass a treacherous nine mile section of water. A half hour paddle and youíre back on the Abitibi.
William Tozer, a professional Cree guide, has his camp situated where this famous trout river pours into the Abitibi. There is no better guide to run this section of river by freighter canoe, or snowmobile during the winter months, to Moosonee. A coffee and chat with William is a must!
As you paddle down the Abitibi River you will be treated to sightings of eagles, geese, hawks, and even the odd moose or bear along the shoreline. You will come to Allan Rapids, at the mouth of the Abitibi, where it spills into the Moose River. There you will see the rock face where the English set up waiting for the return of the French and Pierre De Troy to attack the Hudson Bay Post. Two years later he would. But you will have to wait till were sitting around the campfire at the location of the battle to finish that story.
As you paddle the majestic Moose River, you will notice that the river is laced with Islands of all shapes and sizes, most having names, all having character. You will camp on sandbars, be in awe at the sunsets and, for the lucky traveler, be treated to a breathtaking display of Northern Lights. You will visit the historic Cree villages of Moosonee and Moose Factory that were first established as Fort Moose in 1663. You will learn about the culture and customs of the Cree people, and spend a night at the Cree Village Eco-lodge, located in Moose Factory, surrounded by the beauty of the Canadian sub-arctic. You will be treated to a Cree guided boat tour by freighter canoe (awesome... the way to travel) from the mouth of the Moose River to the salt waters of James Bay. You will beach on Shipsands Bird Sanctuary, where you can photograph the wildlife and tidal marine fauna, board the Polar Bear train and return to Fraserdale. This package has it all- New Post Falls, New Post burial site, Polar Bear Express, Moose River, Cree villages of Moosonee and Moose Factory, Shipsands Bird Sanctuary, and the Eco-Lodge.
If you are an adventure seeker, naturalist, eco-tourist or just an avid canoeist, take a serious look at this package!