If asking where to find a canoe adventure near Toronto… one will find themselves facing “West” to the largest canoeing destination in Southern Ontario… the Grand River. At one time the Grand was unknown, the “North” was the place to canoe. But with the shrinking “holiday dollar”, the website-ease of being found, and intense conservation management… the Grand River watershed has quickly become the #1 canoe route of Southern Ontario.
People in Toronto want the wilderness canoeing experience, but they don’t want the endurance of heavy cottage traffic. Easy access to the Grand Valley has opened up the flood gates of Toronto. To go canoeing, one simply hops on the nearby 401 or 403, drives west, and within 60-90 minutes is paddling the Grand River.
People from the metros want to experience the wild with nearby conveniences. They want gas bars, fast food, corner stores and flush toilets! The river towns of Cambridge, Paris and Brantford meet these needs. One can do 12 kilometer wilderness canoeing between towns. A “spartan” endurance is not required to enjoy the canoe trip.
People from Toronto want to know where they can rent canoes, who to trust and what their dollar buys. Typing in words “Grand river canoe trips” opens those website doors of where one can rent boats. For reliability, it is wise to check arms-length customer reviews like Trip Advisor, Canadian Canoe Routes ( choose Grand River) or Yelp. Prices vary with the route selected, lessons or guides and quality of equipment-services.
The Grand River has two different 12 kilometer sections of canoeing to match the skill level. Bean Park to the Brant Conservation Area is the recommended beginner route (called the Cayuga). Glen Morris to Paris ( Oneida) is not for beginners… there are risks and things can happen. Always better to be skilled at steering a canoe before paddling the Oneida route. For the skilled canoeist… the combination from Glen Morris to Brant Conservation is the best choice.
A canoe lesson before starting is worth the investment. Learning to canoe takes more skill then learning to kayak. People who don’t know, waste lots of energy steering the canoe and exhausting themselves. For those who want to learn about the valley… an interpretative guide makes the area come alive.
Rental companies that cuts prices can be cutting services. Make sure all the equipment is there… map, safety kit, paddles, life-jackets and a good boat. As a first timer, avoid companies offer mass customer canoe launches. Choose a service that will take time to review all information with individual groups to insure they understand the route. Such attention is well worth the peace of mind!
With equipment & instruction supplied… the canoe trip begins. For most people the river is the biggest surprise. To be sixty miles from Toronto, drifting into a wilderness of beauty & wildlife, is totally unexpected. This amazing setting has not happen by accident. Through diligent work, foresight and intensive management practices… the Grand River Conservation Authority (G.R.C.A.) is the author behind this success story.
In 1960 the Grand River was a cesspool… one did not swim, fish or canoe in it. The G.R.C.A. did four key things: sewage management, reforestation of the watershed, river flow control and support of no-till farming. With these efforts water quality improved… and species of fish, animals and birds returned.