On May 5th 2004, Joe O’Blenis set out from Kitimat BC on the Pacific Ocean, bound for Montreal Quebec, the headquarters of the old Fur Trade era of centuries past. The paddling route across Canada would follow along on many of the ancient highways of the first nations people of this land and the early European explorers of the fur trade era.
The first major obstacle along the way was an epic 51km portage, the “Portage from Hell”. Starting at sea level at the remote village of Kemano on the British Columbia Coast, the portage climbed up and over the Coast Mountains, going over a pass of over 3300 feet elevation before heading back down to Tahtsa Lake at roughly 2700 feet. From here the route would take me through such waterways as the Fraser River (Upriver paddling), the Peace River, the Clearwater, the Churchill, Lake Superior, Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay, the Ottawa River plus many other lakes and rivers along the way.
The canoe of choice for this solo journey was the Clipper Sea 1, a specialized solo canoe designed by James van Nostrand in 1986. This lightweight Kevlar® canoe performed superbly from day one right to the end in Montreal.
Wildlife was abundant from one end of the journey to the other – I saw grizzlies, black bear, moose, deer, a black panther, wolves, coyotes and countless other animals all along the way. The real highlight of the trip however was to be the people I met throughout my journey. All told, the trip would take me 5-1/2 months, arriving in Montreal on October 19th of 2005 after having begun in coastal British Columbia on May 5th.