Since 1964 Churchill River Canoe Outfitters has been the leader in providing Canadian Shield wilderness canoe tripping in Western Canada. From Sigurd Olson's "Voyageurs" (who were some of our first clients that summer!) to weekend family trips on the French Lake cicuit to individuals like Steve Rice with his many solo trips to the Hudson's Bay, CRCO has provided the full range of canoe outfitting services for over 54 years.
In 2019 we are offering a chance for a small group of 8 teens to spend three and a half weeks in our beautiful backyard. The goal: to learn the tools of the trade from two of CRCO's guides in a tight-knit, co-ed expedition team.
The first three days will be spent at our Basecamp in Missinipe. Our basecamp is four comfortable cabins with a large main kitchen and meeting area ("The Timberframe") and our Food Prep building. These first few days are foundational: we aim to build a team, to discover the skills and goals and dreams of each member; to draw together our resources and come up with a plan for the coming expedtiion.
There will also be a chance for skills development. The afternoons will be spent hitting the lake and mastering the essential strokes; working on our navigation skills; learning the CRCO sytems of packing and camp life. Camp Life at CRCO might be a bit different from what you're used to. Instead of white gas, we use fire; instead of nylon tents, we use canvas; instead of freeze dried, prepared packaged meals we use simple but nourishing staples like flour, potatoes and oil and easily obtained proteins like beans and sasuage and cheese. We learn how to package these foods and keep them dry and cool.
Finally, you will have the opportunity to learn about the connection of the First Nations with the boreal forests and rivers from the Cree living in nearby Grandmother's Bay. This has been their home for countless generations, and their love for their land has been passed down over the generations.
Mingled into this time is a chance for friendships to be sparked; a chance for the leaders to spend time with each individual team member.
The beauty of CRCO is that we are perfectly situated for some of the most incredible canoe trips right out our front door. This trip is no exception. A short ride down the road to Missinipe takes us to Nemeiben Lake and the put-in for the Nemeiben to Paull River trip. This trip combines the best of three tripping zones: small lakes with portages, similar to the lake country of Algonquin to start off with; followed by the medium volume ultra-classic Paull River with its small rapids and narrow waterways; and concluding with the mighty Churchill which flows powerfully east towards the Hudson's Bay at over 500 cms.
Each phase of the trip will accompany a different stage of group learning and mastery. The trip to begin with is, quite honestly, pretty tough physically. There are numerous portages, and the lake travel can get pretty complex at times. This is classic Canadian Shield country, similar to Algonquin, Temagami or Quetico/Boundary in nature except practically empty of people - very close to true wilderness. This is the time to master the paddling strokes, canoe tripping skills and leadership skills. The leaders during this time are quite hands on with lots of instruction.
The Paull River is where the group begins to challenge themselves in moving water, including many rapids up to Class II. There's time to play in these smaller, less-pushy rapids and figure things out.
The next phase of the trip is the solo time. By this point the group has been together, intensely, for two weeks and it's time to be alone! Solos are anywhere from 12 to 48 hours depending on the course flow and timing.
The trip concludes on the mighty Churchill River, the mother river of Saskatchewan made famous for its role as the Voyageur's highway. Deep green waters contrast with the blacks and browns of other shield waterways in Canada.The Churchill River between Paull River and Otter Rapids is one of the most unique and beautiful reaches in the Canadian Shield with everything from big lakes to narrow powerful whitewater chutes. All of the leaderships and paddling skills honed during the previous three weeks will come into play during these days and culminate with a run down Otter Rapids and the final sprint back to Basecamp dock!
Dates and Cost
July 9 to 31, 2019
$4950.00 regular / $3850 adjusted price
We are able to make the adjusted price available to families as a result of the generosity of our donors and fund raising efforts which support our Youth Program. The regular price reflects the actual cost of running this trip. Please choose the fee which is most suitable for your family. The fee you choose in no way influences the experience your camper will receive. Payment plans and financial assistance are also available. Please contact us for more information.
Includes: Transport from Saskatoon to Basecamp in Missinipe and back to Saskatoon; food, guiding, and group equipment (e.g. canoes, tents, cooking gear); accommodation in Missinipe during the course.
Does not include: Transport to Saskatoon; food or accommodation before (e.g. Day 0) or after the trip.
Sample itinerary, subject to change.
Day 0: There will be a liaison in Saskatoon to meet and accompany students coming to Saskatoon from out of town on the day prior to the trip start date. Airport pickup, hotel fees, and meals are not included with the trip price, please contact us for details and a separate quote for this service.
Day 1: Transport is provided with a departure from Saskatoon at 7:00 am. We reach Missinipe in time for lunch & introductions, an afternoon program, dinner at the Timberframe, and finally an evening program. Students are assigned to comfortable cabins for the next four nights.
Days 2-4: Basecamp, aka bootcamp, in Missinipe sets the tone for the trip to come. Paddling skills clinics, food planning & prep, navigation, CRCO camping leadership, and a whole lot of fun including a day-long Eco-challenge mark the first days.
Days 5-23: Our 19-day Expedition is the meat of this course. Our philosophies of canoe travel mean: we move lightly through the land; we use low technology solutions to problems; we draw on our creativity, skill, resilience and planning; we honour difference and support our new friends and teammates.
Eventually we reach one of the most impressive rapids on the Churchill River, Otter Rapids. This rapid signifies the culmination of the trip's challenges and learning as well as the doorway back into civilization. A short paddle past the end of the rapid brings us "home" to Missinipe for our welcome, our final banquet and campfire, and a well earned rest under a roof. The next day transport is provided back to Saskatoon.
Guides and Safety
CRCO guides are Paddle Canada certified. Moreover, they are skilled in the CRCO way of travelling through Canadian Shield Canoe country. CRCO's long history of save travel in these waters -- close to 60 years -- as well as a carefully considered risk management plan will ensure the maximum possible safety during this course. All of our equipment is in excellent condition and build tough to stand up to the rigours of expeditionary use. Communications devices ensure continuous contact with our base, and provide the option of rapid deployment of emergency services in the event of a medical condition or an injury. While the Churchill is remote, quick access via floatplane is possible with excellent medical services available within a half hour's flight to La Ronge, the nearest hosipital. Please contact us for more details if you have questions about our guides or anything to do with the safety of our programs.