La Vase Portages Canoe Day 2010
A bus load of happy campers set out bright and early from Champlain Park for a day on La Vase Portages. Record low water levels on the lower river made for a lot of mud walking and canoe dragging but still a great days paddling and portaging.
NFN Chief Marianna Couchie
Special guest this year on the La Vase Portages this year was Nipissing First Nation Chief Marianna Couchie. Chief Couchie has been a supporter of increased protection of the historic waterway. Recent archaeological studies have placed the Nipissing First Nations people and their ancestors as having inhabited this area for almost 10,000 years following the retreat of glaciation. While even the birchbark canoe is a relatively modern means of travel, the La Vase corridor would have been a natural travel and hunting corridor for ancestral first nations.
The Ojibway name was "fire water lake" as having reached the height of land for the Ottawa River the Voyageurs and their guides would celebrate with a drink. The name has since been shortened and is now simply called Brandy Lake.
Overcast skies with a few sunny breaks but the rain managed to stay away until late afternoon. Coopers Lake still stands as the most pleasant and picturesque section of the route as is still much the same as it was in Voyageur and ancient times.
Putting the Mud in La Vase Portages
La Vase in French means, roughly translated, foul smelling mud. With record low water levels in the lower swamp area, portagers had a chance to wade first hand through the narrow and muddy channels.
Fine Dining at Billy Bob's
The pickerel and french fry lunch at Billy Bob's, located right beside La Vase River on Lakeshore Drive, is always a well deserved rest stop with great food and ice cold drinks.
We Did It!
As pleasant and interesting as the canoeing day on La Vase Portages is, it is still a great feeling to finally get back to the mornings start point at Champlain Park after almost 6 hours of hard work.