Cancelled: Indigenous canoe portage in Rockcliffe Park: Ottawa River to Rideau River

This walk has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Folks on our sign-up list have been notified. We apologize for any inconvenience.

The walk is hosted by John Savage, a local Metis guide who first discovered this canoe launch site at Rockcliffe Park nearly two decades ago and who visits it regularly on his guided canoe tours. Max Finklestein, a well known paddling community leader, will discuss his findings regarding where he believes the portage trail would link with the Rideau River, as based on fluctuating water levels.  

For eons, Indigenous peoples canoed through this region, portaging over land to access waterways and bypass obstacles (rapids, falls, and other non-navigable sections). Moving between the Ottawa River and the Rideau River, required a portage to get around Rideau Falls and the associated rapids. From this spot, a paddler could access the whole of North America.

We will begin our walk at the top of a trail to the river's edge, where Mr. Savage will use this opportunity to propose that the National Capital Commission (NCC) develop a new canoe launch at a known Indigenous landing spot. Currently, the NCC have no designated canoe launches along the Ottawa River to commemorate Indigenous paddling presence on the river, so this would be the first. In addition, both Mr. Savage and Mr. Finklstein will propose that a new portage trail be established to link the Ottawa River and Rideau River for today's paddling community. It will also provide a potential link between Rockcliffe and Pointe-Gatineau, where Mr. Savage's afternoon walk in Pointe Gatineau will highlight the new canoe dock that he worked with the City of Gatineau to develop.

Carte indiquant le point de départ

Our walk starts at Rockcliffe Park's pavillion, near the site of an ancient Indigenous encampment spot. We will follow a traditional Indigenous portage between the Ottawa River (also known as Kichi Sibi) and the Rideau River. The trail meanders through a forested area with a steep uneven section and then skirts the grounds of Rideau Hall and follows the streets of New Edinburgh, ending at the banks of the Rideau River near the intersection of Crichton and Beechwood.

After the walk, participants are encouraged to remain in the area and visit the restaurants along Beechwood or walk through New Edinburgh, one of Canada's most famous neighbourhoods that overlays the ancient Indigenous presence in our capital city.

Participants may park in NCC Parking Lot #2, near the Rockeries, which is close to the Pavilion (big gazebo) where we will gather. If that parking lot is full, you can park at the next one further up the road at the lookout and walk back.

John should be dressed in his traditional white and striped capote (blanket coat), so he will be easily recognized.

Au sujet du guide

John Savage is a resident of Pointe-Gatineau and a past Jane's Walk walk leader. He has has shared his skills as an canoe and rowing guide, organizer, lobbyist, and community activist to protect and promote both the river community, its archaeological history, and the natural environment for all to enjoy. As a Métis (Chippewa, French, & British) whose ancestors traversed this area, he has a familial connection to the area possibly spanning 7,000 years, and a Metis heritage that is largely based on the fur trade, professional rowing, and athletics. His work with Jane's Walk Ottawa-Gatineau has influenced waterfront development, including the establishment of Gatineau's first canoe and rowing launch site. He aims to do the same on the Ottawa side of the river next, so this walk will talk about the challenges in implementing citizen-led change in our community.

Max Finkelstein, known as Canada’s “canoe man”, is an outstanding leader, educator and writer on Canada’s natural history and conservation. He organizes educational canoe trips and paddling events.


John Savage et Max Finkelstein

Date:dim 5 mai, 2024
Durée: 1 heure 15 min
Langue: anglais
Début:NCC Parking Lot 2, near the Rockcliffe Park Pavilion
Fin:New Edinburgh Park near Beechwood Ave.
Quartier:Rockcliffe Park
Distance:2.5 kms

The route follows unpaved as well as paved paths and sidewalks. There are some hills to climb.

Galerie d'images
John Savage guiding a walk near the trailhead on Portage Bay. Rideau Falls, viewed from a canoe on the Ottawa River. On the Pinesi portage trail near Princess Ave. & Lisgar Rd, Rockcliffe. Max Finkelstein is a veteran canoeist, having paddled more than 25,000 km on five continents. Trillium in bloom
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