French Ducker Canoe Trip
With a group size of 3 or more, we can customize the dates and the content of this program to suit your needs. The prices given are approximate. Please contact us for a quote that exactly fits your needs.
The French Ducker Route shows off typical Precambrian Shield country. Part of this route is on Otter Lake which is part of the Churchill River. And part of this route is on French and Ducker Lakes, part of the Stewart River system which flows into the Churchill River. This route shows off canoe country at it’s best. This route shows off some of the best of Churchill River paddling. Otter Lake is a beautiful island filled lake. Even though the lake is large, because ot the many islands, it has an intimate feel. And because of the many islands, the occasional current between the islands reminds you that you are on a river. At the far end of Otter Lake the river flows over 3 waterfalls into Mountain Lake. You will get to visit Robertson, Twin and North Falls. Each is unique. As you leave the Churchill River and paddle and portage up the Stewart River, the feel changes. The water no longer is moving, like it was on the Churchill. If you pay attention, the water even has a slightly different color and taste. In Rattler Bay you'll get to see ancient pictographs. This is truly a good introduction to paddling in the Precambrian Shield of Northern Saskatchewan
Trip at a Glance
Lakewater wilderness canoe trip
Length: 6 days
Skill Level: Beginner
Dates: July 13 to 18
Trip Fees: $1295 CAD
Trip Rendezvous: Missinipe, Saskatchewan with shuttle service available from the La Ronge airport
About the Trip
The French Ducker Canoe Trip follows a popular route in the Lac La Ronge Provincial Park. The trip starts and ends at the Churchill River Canoe Outfitters base in Missinipe. The route is about 45 km long with 5 portages. The longest portage is about 400 meters in length and the shortest is 100 meters.
The first part of the route is on Otter Lake which is the Churchill River. The Churchill River is a series of island filled lakes joined by rapids or waterfalls. At the far end of Otter Lake, you’ll get to visit the 3 waterfalls that drain the lake. On one of the nights on this trip you’ll get to camp just below North Falls.
The next part of the trip travels along past of one of the tributaries of the Churchill River, the Stewart River. Along the Stewart are some ancient pictographs. You may get to camp next to a small waterfall along this river as it works it’s way south to become part of the Churchill.
French Ducker Trip Itinerary
Day 1 Tuesday, July 13, 2021 - Travel to Missinipe, SK
- Flights from Saskatoon to La Ronge, CRCO shuttle pickup at the airport to Missinipe (80 km).
- Pre trip meeting, gear check, dinner, overnight at CRCO in Missinipe
Day 2 - Breakfast, then get on the water starting right at the CRCO base in Missinipe
- Canoe skills review, paddle and then set up camp.
Day 3 to Day 6 - Paddle Otter, Ducker and French Lakes
- Paddle the unspoiled Otter Lake on the Churchill River and French and Ducker Lakes. Visiting Robertson, Twin and North Falls and the small falls between French and Ducker all become part of your experience. Each night, we will camp at a new site, surrounded by ruggedly beautiful scenery.
Day 6 Sunday, July 18, 2021
- The trip ends at back at the Churchill River Canoe Outfitters’ base in Missinipe
- Optional Group Dinner and overnight in Missinipe (own expense) or mid-afternoon departure from Missinipe. A shuttle is available to the La Ronge airport. That shuttle to La Ronge can also go the next day.
- Overnight in Saskatoon (own expense) or flights home
What is Included in the Trip Fee?
•Overnight stay at CRCO in Missinipe on July 13th
•Guides - 5:1 ratio •Trail Meals
• Excellent meals from Day 2 breakfast to Day 7 lunch
• 17’ Prospector expedition canoes
• Paddles, PFD, helmets (you may bring your own)
• Throw lines and other safety accessories
• Camping Equipment:
• Tents - free standing custom expedition dome tents - 2 per tent
• ‘Kitchen’ - tarp, fire box, cooking stoves, utensils, dishes, etc
• First aid and repair kits, communications equipment (satellite phone)
• Canoe rescue gear
• Transportation to and from the La Ronge airport and Missinipe
• Transportation of guides, group gear, canoe etc to and from trip
What isn't included
• Saskatchewan tax: 11% of the trip fee
• Personal clothing and gear - a recommended clothing & equipment list will be provided
• Travel between your home and the trip rendezvous - Missinipe, Saskatchewan
• Accommodation in Missinipe SK after the trip (approx $60 per person based on double occupancy)
• Any meals in Missinipe before or after the trip
• Any additional expenses or costs incurred as a result of delays to the trip caused by factors beyond our control - i.e. wind, waves, unsafe paddling conditions, forest fire, pandemic, etc
• Any costs associated with your emergency evacuation from the trip - please contact us at CRCO for more information
• Gratuities - we recommend $12-$15 per day per guide
For centuries this area sat mostly empty. There were a few Cree people who lived in the area. Things changed dramatically when in the mid 1700s Peter Pond travelling though the area marked the beginning of the fur trade. Otter Lake became part of the major fur trade highway across the continent. Dozens of fur brigades came through Otter Lake every summer. They camped at Robertson Falls and traded with the local people. More indigenous people moved to the area to trap and hunt the suddenly valuable furs to trade for many things that would make their lives easier. This way of life has lasted until quite recently.
Now tourism has taken the place of the voyageurs and the fur trade. Instead of trading posts we now have now been relaced with fishing lodges. Birch bark voyageur canoes have been replaced with motor boats and lightweight tripping canoes.
Any bird or animal that eats fish is common in the Otter, French, and Ducker Lake area. Loons, bald eagles, osprey, pelicans, grebes and merganzers are all fish eaters. You may also see mink and otters. You will likely see evidence of moose and bear, but is rare special treat to see these shy animals. And there are plenty of fish, mainly walleye and northern pike.
Your Churchill River Canoe Outfitter guides are exceptionally qualified. Each principal guide has an extensive outdoor background, formal training and leadership experience. On most expeditions there will be an assistant guide. The guides are always ready to provide coaching and helpful advice on any aspect of the trip and will attempt to maximize the spirit of adventure for each individual. Your safety is their prime concern and your guide will make decisions with this in mind. We must stress that listening carefully to instructions given by the guide is your responsibility and in the best interest of you and the group. Each group member is encouraged to contribute to the tasks of the canoe trip and your guides will act as helpful resource people. Lastly, as this is your holiday, the CRCO guides have a real sense of fun and excitement, and will help to make this your trip of a lifetime!
Our menus are delicious and nutritious. Everyone helps out cooking meals over a wood fire or camping stove from a combination of fresh, dried and freeze-dried products. Breakfasts consist of cereal, fruit and a main course such as blueberry pancakes or eggs and bacon. At lunch you will enjoy a selection of breads (rye bread, bagels, tortillas) with cheeses, sliced meats or veggies ... and of course, good old peanut butter and jam, followed up by cookies or fruit. Dinner consists of hors d’oeuvers, a main course then dessert. Entrees include chicken stir fry and pesto / pine nut / red pepper pasta. Perhaps we’ll have a salad and finish up with brownies or a lemon desert. On cooler days, a hearty mug of steaming soup is always available, along with tea, coffee, hot chocolate or cold drinks. If you have food allergies or dietary restrictions you should contact our office. You will be required to assist in your menu preparation. We don’t want anyone going hungry or reduced to eating boring food!
The Otter Lake, French and Ducker Lake areas often has idyllic summer temperatures, but not always. Expect temperatures to range from 15 C to 32C, but averaging from 20 - 25 C. A good rain suit is a must, along with some warm clothing for cool days and nights. The water temperature in mid July is usually about 23 C.
This Trip is rated Novice Skill Level - No previous experience is necessary.
The French Ducker Route is for those who want to experience a true wilderness canoe trip. It is a great introduction to wilderness canoe tripping. No canoeing experience is necessary. But participants should come in decent physical condition. There are 5 portages. Some of these can be in poor condition, and will undoubtably have poor footing and mud. You should be prepared to carry your share of the group’s load. The pace will be fairly full but there will have time for instruction and coaching along the way. At the campsite everyone pitches in with setting up tents, collecting firewood, preparing meals, telling stories etc. The guides coordinate things and are always ready to assist you in any tasks. On the water they will provide expert coaching and lots of personal attention.
The French Ducker Trip meets at Missinipe, Saskatchewan. Most people will drive to Missinipe. However, there are daily flights from Saskatoon to La Ronge via Transwest Air. From La Ronge we will arrange a shuttle to Missinipe. You should arrive in La Ronge on Monday, June 28th and can depart on or after Tuesday July 13, 2021. Churchill River Canoe Outfitters is located in Missinipe. CRCO has cabins and a hostel to rent. The town has a restaurant, a small convenience store and float plane base. We will reserve a cabin for you for Night 1 on us. We can also reserve a cabin for you for Night 6, the cost will be approximately $60.00 per person.
YES, we highly recommend you to purchase 1) Emergency Medical/Evacuation Insurance, 2) Trip Interruption Insurance and 3) Trip Cancellation Insurance. Many credit card companies offer limited interruption/cancellation insurance, so please consult with yours before you book your trip to ensure you are adequately covered. Please also note that some types of insurance are only valid if they are purchased within a short time of making a non-refundable payment towards a trip. More information about these can be obtained through your preferred insurance provider. Prior to confirming your trip’s departure, we will ask you to sign a waiver stating you have either purchased adequate insurance or that you will be personally responsible and financially liable for any costs incurred as the result of any delays/cancellations/evacuations to you on your trip.