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Author Topic:  Rivière des Outaouais du Nord
jimh posted 02-03-2013 03:25 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
The Northern Ottawa River

Several years ago, in 2006, we made a cruise on the Ottawa River, from Pembroke to Mattawa and back, which I would describe as the middle portion of the Ottawa River. I wrote about our cruise in

It was really a very enjoyable trip, although we cut short plans to explore the northern reaches of this very picturesque river.

Recently I came across a promotional video that gives some glimpse of the Ottawa River and its northern shores. This presentation gives a different look than my Sail Log. I think it is worth looking at. The first few seconds promote a boat dealer, but sit through them to get to the scenery. See

If embarking above Mattawa, and skipping the portion of the river between the dams at Mattawa and Timiskaming (which is about a 25-mile stretch and is called Lac La Cav or Cave Lake), one could have a very long reach of water to explore without needing to portage around any dams, about 70 miles. The reason to avoid the dam portages between Mattawa and Timiskaming is the expense; they charge $100/hour plus a mileage fee, and the portages have to be arranged by appointment. Thus if departing from Mattawa, you might spend $400 on portages going North and returning. This seems a bit expensive to access that 25-miles segment of the river. There appears to be a small marina at Timiskaming on the Quebec side, and I would presume they have a boat launch ramp.

There is also the lower portion of the Ottawa, which extends from the Canadian capital city, Ottawa down to the St. Lawrence near Montreal. This is another stretch of the river to be explored, perhaps in conjunction with a transit of the Rideau Canal.

K Albus posted 02-03-2013 08:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
I'm in. When do we leave?
6992WHALER posted 02-04-2013 02:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
Me Too
saumon posted 02-04-2013 07:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for saumon  Send Email to saumon     
If you choose the lower portion, you'll end up in the Lake of Two Mountains, wich is an enlargment of the Ottawa river downstream of the Carillon dam, just before the river heads into the St. Lawrence (named Lake St. Louis there, another St. Lawrence enlargment).

That's my favorite playground, 20 mins from home (and a damn God muskies fishery)!

jimh posted 02-04-2013 11:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am a little foggy about what happens going downstream from Pembroke. I think Lac Des Allumettes become a series of rapids that cannot be traversed in a power boat. You have to be hauled around. At some point continuing downstream you would arrive in Ottawa, but there are other obstructions to be traversed. I think it might be prudent to skip the portion of the river between Ottawa and Pembroke, as it appears that two portages will be necessary. One between Ottawa to Arnprior. A second between Bryson and DesJardinsville.

At Ottawa the river looks to be deep and clear. The Carillon Dam is downstream quite a ways from Ottawa. There is a lock there which would allow transit without portage. Further downstream is Montreal. Once you get there, look out. You need to be held back, as it would take just a little bit of a push and you'd be out into the open water of the St. Lawrence in one more day.

jimh posted 02-05-2013 12:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Going North you can reach Notre-Dame-du-Nord. You'll be in latitude 47°35' North. That is farther North than Copper Harbor, but not quite as far North as Isle Royale.
saumon posted 02-05-2013 05:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for saumon  Send Email to saumon     
The lower portion of the Ottawa river isn't that long and could even be done in a day. In fact, there's 90 miles from Ottawa to Montreal: 70 miles from Ottawa to the Carillon dam (the higher single lock in North America - 65 feet), and 20 miles remaining in Lake of Two-Mountain to reach the St. Lawrence.

Here's a few interresting links:

jimh posted 02-06-2013 04:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Saumon--Thank you for those links. They look very informative.

I like that big lock at Carillon. We have transited the big American lock at Sault Ste. Marie. It is always easier to descend in a big lock than to rise. There is much less turbulence in the water as the lock empties than when it fills.

These guys are too easy to persuade to go right now. It's February, it's freezing, and there is snow on the ground. Anywhere on the water sounds good to them right now.

We'll see if they still have enthusiasm for the Riviere des Outaouais in the Spring.

One variant of this trip might be to start at Ottawa, run downstream to Montreal, then run upstream on the St. Lawrence to Kingston. At Kingston, leave the boats for a day, take VIA Rail to Ottawa, and retrieve the trailers. Or, if not in a hurry, return via the Rideau Canal.

David Pendleton posted 02-06-2013 09:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
I don't know; I don't think my boat would fit on that portage trailer very well.
jimh posted 02-07-2013 03:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The portage around the dam at Rapides Des Joachim is only a short trip, about a mile, and the speed of travel on the road is at 25-MPH or less. I will admit, I did feel a sense of relief when our boat was back in the water above the dam.
jimh posted 02-07-2013 03:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In the two proposed segments, Timiskaming and North, or Ottawa and South, there would be no portages around dams.

The portage around Rapides des Joachim is a reasonable inconvenience to permit the transit of the river from Mattawa to Pembroke. It allows a rather long stretch of the river, about 104-miles, to be navigated with only one short portage.

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