Winisk River: Webequie to Peawanuck (12 days / 420 km)

Winisk River Webequie to Peawanuck

This is a trip I never thought I would be given the chance to do — a trip down the Winisk River. Back in the 1980’s when I was canoe guide for Camp Voyageur out of South River Ontario, we would paddle the Missinabi River to Moosonee each year. I always found the remoteness and the landscape invigorating and like so many other canoeists I wondered what it would be like to paddle a more remote river. I had an old copy of “Canoe Routes of Ontario” and up in the corner of the map of Ontario all by itself was the Winisk River that flows right into Polar Bear Provincial Park. I wanted to go there and never really forgot about it.

I met Dr. Bill Rom through an art commission of a sculpture of famed canoeist Bill Mason that he had commissioned for a park in Ely MN to honor his parents the foundered of Canoe Country Outfitting.

When we met to talk about the sculpture, we also talked about all the canoe trips we have done and then Bill said that he was going to canoe the Winisk but it was postponed last year because of COVID.

I told him the Winisk had been on my canoe “wish list” since I was 20. My friends and I were planning to canoe in Wabakimi when I got an email from Bill asking if I want to paddle the Winisk. After clearing it with my wife and friends I was on board!

Winisk Lake and virtually all of the Winisk River are protected within a Waterway Provincial Park. For the first 160 km the river runs wild and fast, with many rapids and falls. For the next 160 km it continues to run swiftly, but with fewer sudden rapids. Along the entire route are burnt-over areas with very little mature forest. Near Hudson Bay the river crosses Polar Bear Provincial Park, which contains one of the southernmost extensions of arctic tundra in the world.

Limestone Rapids offers a last dash through white water, and high limestone cliffs. islands and gravel mounds make the final stretch uniquely scenic. The trip ends at the village of Peawanuck.

Trip Completed: July 2022

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