We are excited to bring the Voyageur Adventure Tour back to Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park this summer!
Experience the life of a traveler at the height of the fur trade by paddling a canoe on the beautiful Mattawa River.
Our expert guides will help you discover part of our Canadian heritage.
The History of the Mattawa River
The Mattawa River has been an important travel route for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence shows indigenous settlements on Lake Nipissing and the Mattawa River dating back 9,600 years.
At that time, the Mattawa River flowed more than 100 m higher than today, swollen by meltwater from glaciers from the last ice age.
For the Anishinabek and later Europeans such as Samuel de Champlain, the Mattawa River facilitated canoe travel and trade. Without the luxury of modern roads and railways, canoeing was the only option to navigate the rugged geography of the Canadian Shield.
The Mattawa River is famous for its challenging yet scenic transports. Despite this, the Anishinabek’s ingenious birch bark canoes grew into enormous 36′ (11 m) cargo canoes to meet European demand for Canadian furs.
Travelers paddled and transported these 600-pound canoes across the Mattawa River, transporting thousands of pounds of goods and furs each season.
The work of a traveler
The term Voyageur comes from the French language and directly translates as “travelers.”
Originally, this word was considered a general term for all the early explorers, trappers and traders who navigated the Canadian wilderness.
Over time, being a Voyageur referred specifically to men employed by trading companies such as the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company.
These true Voyageurs were licensed through the Congé system to transport valuable goods such as furs, blankets, and tobacco across the Canadian interior in exchange for items such as iron axes, flintlock muskets, and brass tools.
These men transported their valuable cargo along rivers and lakes in birch bark canoes. The Voyagers were indispensable to the development of Canada’s fur trade and the growth of the nation we live in today.
Adventure tours for travelers
This summer at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, put on traveler belts, a life jacket and paddle back in time!
Tours are offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays during July and August.
How do I register?
Register at the Mattawa River Visitor Center, in person or by calling (705) 744-2276. Tours must be booked by 4:00 pm the day before.
Ticket prices are as follows:
- Adult: $25
- Child (4 to 16 years old): $20
- Baby (under three years): free
Be sure to stop at the Visitor Center where you can see the fine craftsmanship and artistry of the birch bark canoe.
The highlight is the 38-foot voyageur. master ship. Exhibits in the Visitor Center explore the rich natural and cultural history of the Mattawa River.
Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park is located 40 minutes east of North Bay and 10 minutes west of Mattawa.
For more information, call 705 744-2276 x 204 or email the park.
- Sunday: 3-Hour Mattawa River Tour at 10:00 am
- Wednesday: 3-hour Mattawa River tour at 10:00 am
- Saturday: 3-Hour Mattawa River Tour at 10:00 am
Celebrate the park’s heritage on August 13 with a Voyageur Rendezvous
To celebrate the heritage of Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, we bring you our interpretation of a Voyageur Rendezvous.
In Saturday, August 13, 2023We invite everyone to join the festivities!
Stay tuned for more information on the park’s events page!
That is an appointment?
As a break from their travels, travelers organized annual or semi-annual gatherings called “Voyageur Rendezvous” or “Grand Portage.” These large gatherings brought together indigenous peoples, travelers, traders, trappers and families.
The best known meeting was the Great Meeting, which took place at Fort Williams between 1803 and 1821.
For the travelers of the Northwest Company, Fort Williams on Lake Superior (where Thunder Bay is now located) was a halfway point between men rowing from the west with their precious furs and meeting men traveling from the west. this with other valuable commercial goods.
This was a great place to trade goods before returning home for the end of the season. To celebrate the success of these trades, travelers, indigenous people and community members gathered at The Great Rendezvous.
During the day, furs and trade items were sorted and exchanged, ships were repaired, food was cooked and prepared for the next journey home.
In the evening it was time to put work aside and participate in the celebration. There was a party, dancing and bagpipes, violins and fifes. Songs were sung and stories told about the travelers’ journeys.
These encounters occurred in several locations, including the Mattawa River, which is home to Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.
Relive a portion of this revelry at Saturday, August 13, 2023 in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.