Paddling Northern Saskatchewan

17 March 2021

Paddling Northern Saskatchewan: A Guide to 80 Canoe Routes
by Ric Driediger
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
Review by Toby A. Welch
$34.95 ISBN 9781988783581

Oh, how I wish I had this book when I bought my first canoe back in 1995! At that time, there was nowhere to find such a comprehensive all-in-one resource for paddling destinations. Canoeists who pick up a copy of Paddling Northern Saskatchewan will find it invaluable. 

This book contains the ‘characters’ of 80 different rivers, canoe routes, and areas in Northern Saskatchewan. In this instance, ‘character’ means the experience of canoeing the route. This is a departure from most guidebooks that just share route details. The downside of the latter approach is that those details can be altered drastically with one swoop from Mother Nature.

Before the book delves into the 80 canoe routes, Driediger covers the geological regions of Northern Saskatchewan, each of which offers a unique paddling experience. We also get a list of the canoe routes in the nine regions: Southern Boreal, Athabasca Basin, Cree Lake, Clearwater River, Precambrian Shield, Fond du Lac, Northern Shield, Athabasca Sand Dunes, and North of Lake Athabasca.

As Driediger explains the characters of the routes, he lists the geological region, the length of the canoe trip in kilometres as well as days, and his description. A huge bonus is that he also includes a section with each route called Transportation, which details how to get to and from the start and end points. That information is crucial when planning your paddling adventures. For example, for the Waterhen River Route, the Transportation section reads: “There are numerous places to get into the Waterhen River, though I suggest either Pierce Lake or Lac des Iles. All points have road access. Other points of access include Highway 26 Waterhen Bridge as an alternate starting or ending point, and the Waterhen Lake beach access as an alternative ending point.”

Driediger’s son, Dan, collaborated with GoTrekkers to produce over 65 beautiful and detailed maps for this book. They also included aerial photos for the complicated areas. The result is a visually stunning book that is a piece of art. The additional numerous snapshots, most taken during Driediger’s canoeing adventures, added even more vitality to the book. 

As someone who respects the Indigenous people of Canada and the vital and undeniable role they play in our country’s history, I was touched by the Treaty Acknowledgements section that Driediger included. It tells of how the Indigenous people travelled the routes in the book for millennia before settlers came and how they live in harmony with nature. 

Ric Driediger is the perfect person to author Paddling Northern Saskatchewan. He is the owner/operator of Churchill River Canoe Outfitters in Missinipe, Saskatchewan, in the northern-central part of the province. A canoeist for nearly 50 years, Driediger clearly knows his stuff!


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