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176 Hilldale Road
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Canada P7G 1Y8
705-785-3595 - Cell


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Frontier Trail, Hwy 527
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The Journal of Darren McGinnis - Outdoor Adventurer

Journal Entries: 
Darren's Bio     
June 2003         July 2003       August 2003      September 2003    October 2003          Arrival in Mexico

September 2003 

The Trent-Severin Waterway - Port Severin, On. to Trenton, Ontario
August 19th- September 16th
Lake Ontario (Eastern Half) - Trenton, On. to Oswego, NY.
September 17th to September 29th.

The Trent-Severin Waterway is a little known gem of a waterway. Most people I have talked to from across Canada and now The States, do not know it exists. Most people in Southern Ontario are familiar with it and certainly the migrating, snowbird yachters should be as well. The Trent, as it is commonly referred is a 240 mile stretch of lakes, canals, & rivers stretching from the South-East of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron to the North-East
Shore of Lake Ontario. It shaved off many additional miles from my quest for the Big Apple. It would have been substantially longer had I needed to paddle down through Detroit at the southern most point of Lake Huron. Then paddle the entire south shore of Lake Erie past Cleveland and on to Buffalo where I would have entered the Erie Canal. I was able to take a more direct approach via the Trent and around the eastern half of Lake Ontario to Oswego, where I am writing this now. From here, I will head straight south and hook up half way along The Erie Canal.

The Trent was certainly a change of pace for me. It is a very seasonally populated area and is extremely popular with tourists and summer holiday-ers. The waterway is literally a highway for boats and yachts. It is a popular route because it is scenic as well as historic. The 45 locks, marine railway, and hydraulic lift locks are all popular tourist destinations. To the dismay of many, I was charged the same rate as anyone else traveling
through. Boaters are charged by the foot and therefore my cost was $70 for a one-way transit pass. I was also charged $11 per night to camp at any of the 45 locks. The services were simply a patch of grass, tables, clean washrooms, and payphone. Had I stayed at a lock every night, it would have been substantially cheaper to fly from Parry Sound to Kingston!!

Along The Trent, I had one bad experience and many great experiences with people I met. The bad experience was with Joe, the owner of Sunset Cove Marina near Bolsover, On. I had met some boaters who had invited me to the marina to have dinner with them. They said the owner would most likely let me camp there as well. It was the end of the day so I agreed happily. When I got to the marina, I first approached the owner to tell him I was invited for dinner and asked if I could set up my tent for the night as well. He said no, that he did not allow tents or camping there. I was confused because there were probably a dozen other tents and campers already there for the night. He then told me that it was only boaters allowed to camp. I asked him why I was not considered a boater? He then went on to add that only people who rent a slip can camp or have friends or family over. I was shocked really but did not care because the last lock was still close by. I said fine and told him I would go back to the lock to camp. I then went and joined the people whose invite I had accepted and they were quite surprised as well. Stay and eat they suggested and then it is only a short paddle back to the lock. No sooner had we finished eating when the owner came up to where we were and looked perturbed. He told me sternly again that I was not camping there. I told him that I had no intention of camping there and was going to the lock after dinner. He said that he had told me to leave, which he hadn't, over an hour ago and that it was private property and he wanted me out now. I looked at the people I was with to see what their reaction to this was and they all just had blank looks on their faces. Fine I said and apologized for eating and running and got up to leave. Normally, I would thoroughly enjoy a little confrontation such as this but I felt that since these people were so kind to me I would not make a scene. I also felt that since there was no basis for this guys treatment of me since I had never been there before, he would look like a real idiot if I continued to remain polite. All I can figure is that he has had some bad experiences with paddlers before which is unfortunate. Maybe he does not like the way I look all shaggy and such, in which case a letter to the better business bureau might be in order.

On the positive side, I was treated fantastic everywhere else I went. I was helped out, put up, fed, watered, cleaned, and taken for tours too many times to mention them all. I was accepted like family and stayed five days with the Millers in Orillia, On. There, I went to my first foam party, caught fifty chickens, received business opportunities, and got free counseling. I also got interviewed by the Orillia Newspaper. I attended a fabulous Labor Day Party in Bolsover thanks to having to backtrack a bit from the Sunset Cove Marina, ha, ha!! I was picked up at Peterborough by Jerry Michalko whom I had paddled with briefly on Lake Superior. He took care of my gear and then drove me into North York, Toronto. I stayed with my cousin Cory and her three other FEMALE roommates there for about a week. Cory, her friend Ludo, and I took a run down to Darien Lake, NY. to The Six
Flags there. I got in a round of golf with Ludo, Jay, and another friend of theirs. I also spent a few days with my old buddy Darryl Abbott who showed me some of the sights downtown Toronto. I even got to share a pint with a childhood buddy of mine named Allan Porter who I had not seen in about fifteen years. From Toronto, I caught a Go Train to Oshawa and stayed with Jim and Janelle for the night. I had met Jim and Janelle at the Labor Day Festivities and they had insisted I come to their home in Oshawa as well. The next day, Jim drove me back to Jerry's in Peterborough. From there, I made my way to Trenton and finished The Trent-Severin Waterway.

From Trenton, I paddled east towards Kingston. That is when things started to get bad. I knew that Hurricane Isabel was heading my way so I figured I should find a good sheltered spot to hunker down. I was studying my charts and figured that Deseronto would be as good a town as any. I pulled into the small bay there and scouted around for a spot to stick my tent. I decided upon the local flea-market property. There was nobody around to ask for permission but I set up in a far corner anyway. It was somewhat sheltered and close to the water. To make a long story short, the storm was fairly fierce but I was luckily rescued by a farmer named Gary Tucker. I went farming with Gary for the day of the storm and we dealt with falling trees and sheep escaping to name but a few things. If things cleared up, Gary also wanted to take me coon hunting that night but we never did go. I have no interest in killing a raccoon but was curious about the whole experience. The next day, we went back to my tent and it was flat and flooded to say the least. As well, my kayak had been hauled up onto the yard luckily because the ground I had left it on was under water. You would think I would have learned from last years loss of my kayak. Steve and Bruce, who own and run the flea market came over and said hi. They said that they had pulled my kayak up and I thanked them profusely. They turned out to be real great guys and told me to stay as long as I wanted and to let them know if I needed anything. I thanked them by mentioning their help and business when I did an interview for The Napanee Beaver. 

After the storm abated and I had a chance to dry out and mend my ailing tent and gear, I made my way towards Kingston. For ten days, I had ranging from very high to very dangerous winds and waves. I had fierce east winds as I tried to make my way east to Kingston. I then had battering wind and massive waves coming straight from the west as I made my way across Wolfe Island from Ontario to New York. I stopped in to the ferry customs office when I got to the American Shore and when I told the agent where I was trying to go, he just looked at me like I was an idiot and said "okee dokee". "What are you traveling in again", he asked? When I told him, he just shook his head. I paddled on as much as I could each day, which was not much. The water was really dangerous and I was amazed that I did not capsize. My Sea Lion is really sea worthy it turns out. It was still unnerving enough that I could only take an hour or two of these conditions. I only had one nice, calm day on Lake Ontario. That day I took advantage and paddled long and far from the east shore mainland to Galloo Island and then back to the south shore mainland. Since the sun was shining as well for a change, I was also able to see and take pictures of many very large fish in about ten feet of water. The salmon, carp, and trout, come close to shore this time of year. As I was making my way south towards Oswego and the end
of the big water, the winds hit again and just as you would suspect, straight from the south. As I was wind bound on a beach, I was rescued by another family who invited me to stay at their camp for the night. I needed
to paddle for about a mile to get to it though. Jeff Jones took Yoda so I did not have to worry about her and walked up the beach after I pounded out through enormous surf. It took me an hour of the hardest paddling I could physically do to make the mile. On my way into shore and to the entertainment of the fifteen or so family members who had gathered here for the weekend, I started surfing a huge wave and finally for the first time
ever...dumped!! I hauled the flooded boat through the battering waves into shore and entertained the group further with stories until the next morning. I was treated like family again and we had a real great time. I made my way to Oswego over the next few days in moderately high winds naturally. I had to paddle out into the lake to avoid the restricted waters around the Nine Mile Nuclear Reactor. They were keeping a close watch on me as I paddled near. Long hair, scruffy beard, and a boat covered in bulging bags could be considered a potential threat I'm sure. They may have thought they were about to witness the first suicide kayak bomber!!

For the many others who helped me along the way and I did not mention, I thank you with all my heart as it has made my trip a dream. I'm almost there now.  Stay tuned for my next update of The Oswego River, Erie Canal, and Hudson River, cheers, d.

Contact Darren McGinnis: 

Darren the Kayaker & Yoda the Pug. 

1-380 Shuniah St. 
Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada P7A 3A6 









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