Paddling Routes of North-Central Saskatchewan

16 January 2015

Paddling Routes of North-Central Saskatchewan
by Gregory P. Marchildon and Carl Anderson
Published by University of Regina Press
Review by Keith Foster
$24.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-304-2

The photo on the cover of Paddling Routes of North-Central Saskatchewan shows a paddle dipping into the water. If this doesn’t make you want to pack up your troubles and explore the province’s pristine lakes and rivers, then the detailed descriptions and instructions of authors Gregory P. Marchildon and Carl Anderson surely will.

Never canoed before? No problem. The authors rate the difficulties of each route so readers can choose the one most suitable for their level of expertise. If you’re up to the challenges as a seasoned canoeist, the authors have suggestive ideas aplenty.

Marchildon and Anderson guide readers through twenty-three trips. Each lists the length of the trip in both miles and kilometers, the approximate time it takes to complete the trip, the number of portages required, and a list of map coordinates.

Following some of the trip descriptions are endnotes with nifty tidbits of information that may surprise even some long-term Saskatchewan residents. Did you know, for instance, that Ile-a-la-Crosse takes its name from the game of lacrosse?

The book provides the historical background for these canoe routes, many of which enabled the Hudson’s Bay Company to access its fur-trade posts.

Marchildon and Anderson cite landmarks and sights for canoeists to watch for, such as rock paintings and a commemorative plaque for Robert McNichol from Nokomis SK, who died in action during World War II.

A not-to-be-missed site is Holy Trinity Anglican Church at Stanley Mission. Built between 1854 and 1860, this iconic church with its unique architecture is the oldest building still standing in Saskatchewan. During the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, the bodies of those who died here were stored in the church over the winter.

The authors provide pointers on navigating Saskatchewan’s lakes and rivers. They indicate, for instance, where paddlers may have to “push through a dense and extensive stand of wild rice.” They also take pains to warn readers of dangers such as whirlpools, cautioning that the suction from some is so strong that they are best to be avoided.

The book contains twelve colour photos, some depicting tranquil waters, but one catches a white-water rafter whose boat is virtually submerged, its bow pointing upwards, and the canoeist getting doused by heavy spray full in the face. This photo is bound to get the adrenalin going for the daring, and make the more cautious think twice before challenging any rapids.

A feature of this guide book is its extensive mapping system, with ninety detailed maps showing recommended routes. An appendix lists the Government of Saskatchewan’s documented canoe routes. This edition is coil-bound, enabling the book to lie flat for easy reference.

Whether beginner or experienced, when armed with Paddling Routes of North-Central Saskatchewan, any canoeist can embark on a wilderness excursion. So when Saskatchewan’s lakes and rivers beckon, dip your paddle into the water and let the adventure begin.


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