Come Wander
Paddle boarding on the Madawaska

Just up the way, on a winding road past Barry’s Bay, tucked in amongst the trees above the Madawaska River, you’ll find whitewater enthusiasts paddling canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards (SUPs) at Madawaska Kanu Centre (MKC). This riverside resort hosts paddlers from beginners to experts who, like me, are drawn to the challenge and exhilaration of the rapids in a safe and controlled environment.

Although I have been paddling for many years and am certified as a Paddle Canada flatwater SUP instructor, I am new to river running the paddle board through whitewater. I’ve always been eager to gain some raging river skills and, this summer, I finally found myself immersed in the Middle Madawaska to obtain a river SUP certification that would quench my curiosity. I spent three days on the river in a wetsuit (drysuits recommended in May) with endless rain and I’ve never had more fun in my life!

A New Take on Adventure Paddling

Whitewater SUP is not nearly as common as whitewater canoeing and kayaking but, in my stand-up-paddle-loving opinion, it might just be more fun and accessible, especially if you’re just starting out in moving water.

Paddle boards offer a dynamic experience on the water since you can alter your difficulty level simply by changing your body position. River paddling beginners can choose to drop down from a standing position and run a rapid on their knees until they’re comfortable and ready to run the rapid while standing on the board. This translates to quickly gaining confidence, seeing clear progression, and the ability to run a longer river section with varying difficulty. Swimming is inevitable and paddleboards are much easier to remount than a canoe or kayak once you find yourself in the water.

What to Expect: Madawaska Kanu Centre

Paddling at MKC was a blast from the start. Our group spent our first day stand up paddling through ‘Claudia’s Roller’, a rapid nicknamed after MKC owner and paddler Claudia Van Wijk, where we fine-tuned flatwater skills, began to play and gain comfort in moving water, and attempted to surf a standing wave.

On day two we paddled a section of the Middle Madawaska below the Bark Lake Dam and learned to ferry, to read the water, and to cross eddy lines. I lost count of the number of times I fell in as well as the number of times I laughed at myself and recognized that there was nowhere else that I would rather have been.

Day three was a mix of re-running the Middle Madawaska river section from the previous day and returning to the surf wave at Claudia’s Roller. I felt immense joy and pride to see the improvement in skill and the confidence gained in moving water over just three days. I had tapped into my inner child in a big way and the Madawaska River was my playground.

After paddling, I took the chance to unwind and connect to the outdoors while digging into hearty meals with new friends, warming up in the wood-fired sauna, and sitting fireside with the resort’s paddling and outdoors library at my fingertips.

Memorable Moments

I learned a lot on my trip, and had a ton of fun, especially when I fell and had the chance to get back up. See me in action below:

Whether you choose to paddle a canoe, kayak, or stand up paddle board like myself, here are the best reasons to get paddling at MKC pronto:

  • Leave having gained confidence in paddling moving water;
  • Gain a sense of personal accomplishment and pride;
  • Meet new (incredible, like-minded, fun, nature loving) friends;
  • Be present and have your senses fully engaged in the experience;
  • Get out of your comfort zone;
  • Grow your skills and paddling abilities;
  • Earn your rest at night and fall asleep smiling;
  • Connect with childlike joy;
  • Play simply for the sake of playing
  • And finally, because – Paddling rules!

I hope to see you on the water!

Stories

With Love, to Frontenac County

Now more than ever we are drawn to our community, and the places that help us to unwind and get outdoors. To get away from the crowds and reconnect with our roots. Frontenac County tempts us to sit back, unwind and check into vacation mode, to rediscover a world of countless lakes and a region […]

With Love, to Haliburton Highlands

We are so lucky to come from a place that has it all: phenomenal views, rugged landscapes, abundance of trails, and infinite opportunities for recreation, all enticing you to leave your comfort zone and step into the wild. Here, endless forests meet cool, clear lakes and rivers to create incredible vistas that reach out to […]

With Love, to the Ottawa Valley

From the rushing waters of the Petawawa, Madawaska and Ottawa rivers to the unspoiled woodlands of Algonquin Park, the Ottawa Valley is a sultry enchantress, enticing us with adventure. Renowned as a world-class whitewater destination and for the challenges found in its rugged hills and lush dales, the Valley pushes us to do more, live […]

With Love, to Lennox & Addington

Known for its pristine wilderness, incredible views and rugged natural spaces, the majestic beauty of Lennox & Addington speaks to the wanderer inside us all. From the craggy peak of Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park to the starry skies overhead, there is wonder waiting to be discovered here, a vivid reminder of how our […]

With Love, to Hastings County

The deep lakes and meandering rivers here are ripe with life, both on land and in the water. This land is known as a region rich with minerals, and we haven’t forgotten how our communities were settled by the gold rush, where miners flocked, eager to delve into the earth to unearth its riches. Thick […]

Bikepacking in North Frontenac

Imagine a weekend of backcountry camping in a quiet forest just a few hours from Ottawa or Toronto. As you settle down at camp, you think back to the fresh moose tracks you saw earlier that day and the amazing swim you had when you stopped for lunch. The scenery feels familiar but something’s different. […]

Hello Summer! Your Guide to COVID-19 Safe Travel in Ontario’s Highlands

We are happy to see that summer is in full swing here in Ontario’s Highlands, and even happier now that we have seen the lifting of many restrictions here in Ontario. After months of staying home we are eager to get out and stretch out legs and imaginations in a region made for discovery. This […]

Secret Swimming Holes

Shhh…we’re not supposed to tell you about these swimming holes…some of them don’t even have names and you may never find them without a map, but we understand that when it’s 40 degrees out with the humidity and the public beach is packed the hunt is on for the perfect swim spot. Those in the […]

Go Backcountry

You waken slowly in the early morning, the high-pitched warble of birdsong drifting lightly through the trees overhead. The sky is faintly brightening with the coming of dawn, and the natural world is gradually blossoming to life. Around you there is no trace of human activity, no murmurs of voices, clanging of dishes, or whir […]

An Ode to Summer

A throwback to summers gone past, with inspiration for this year’s adventure.

Just Show Up

Hit the water and take advantage of these easy kayaking and canoeing opportunities in Ontario’s Highlands.

Highway 7 Hikes

Stretch your legs by exploring these nature hiking trails along Highway 7.

Coming Home

Discover the story of Sarain Fox and her journey home to the Ontario’s Highlands, relieving memories of ice fishing and snowmobiling along the way.

Spring is Calling

Hanging around the city when the scents of spring are tantalizingly tickling your nose is tough. This is when you yearn to get away from the slush, pack the car and head out for an almost-spring getaway to the countryside, where baby animals, maple syrup, G-rated fun, and fresh air are calling. Get out of […]

Spring Break

The sun is warm, the air smells like spring, and the birds are singing their special warm weather songs. It’s official; spring has sprung. After a long Canadian winter, spring getaways are a time-honoured tradition for families here in the great white north, and haven’t we earned a little fun in the sun? This is […]

Winter Just Got Awesome

Learn to climb or brush up on your skills with an epic ice climbing adventure at SOIceFest 2020 in Maynooth, ON.

Ultimate Après-Ski Experiences

Meet up with friends after a day well spent on the slopes or on the trails. Discover these top places in Ontario’s Highlands to celebrate the Apres Ski!

Fall in Love With Winter

Unique winter experiences in Ontario’s Highlands that will give you something to brag about.

Climb a Wall of Ice

Challenge yourself to reach new heights with an ice climbing adventure at these places across Ontario’s Highlands.

Embrace the Dog Days of Winter

If you can’t beat winter, join it with an epic dog sledding excursion through some of the most beautiful forests in Ontario.

Cycle Through Fall

As cooler temperatures arrive and leaves change colour, discover these top places throughout Ontario’s Highlands to cycle in the fall.

The Best Fall Canoeing

Discover these top lakes and rivers in Ontario’s Highlands to discover the beauty of fall colours from a canoe.

3 Cheers for Mom

Discover ways to give a mom a Mother’s Day to remember, with gift ideas that go above and beyond.

Batter up!

Get a behind the scenes look into the world of baseball at Sam Bat.

Where Am I?

Climb to new heights at the Medeba Ice Wall and enjoy the unique view from the top.

Where Am I?

Make fresh tracks along premium snowmobile trail, the RAP Tour Loop.

Winter? Bring it!

Discover your love for the season with a classic Ottawa Valley winter.

One Last Ride

Watch JR Alli’s video and see what he discovers when he allows himself to just wander.

An Action-Packed Weekend

Read how Will Tang from Going Awesome Places raced muscle cars and experienced thrills on the rapids with whitewater raftering in the Ottawa Valley.

Whitewater Rafting as a Family

Read about how one family took on whitewater rafting on the Madawaska River and why they can’t wait to do it again.

The Freedom Finder

I’m a Freedom Finder. I wander with speed! I seek out opportunities to make fresh tracks, blaze new trails, and get my adrenaline pumping.

Where Am I

Explore the sweet moments and ageless beauty of Perth, Ontario.

Recharge in the Snow

Disconnect from the everyday with a snowmobile trip through Ontario’s Highlands.

All Terrain, All the Time

Pack your saddle bags and press the throttle for an ATV adventure like no other in Ontario’s Highlands.

Raging the Rapids

SUP Instructor Courtney Sinclair takes her passion for paddle boarding to the whitewater.

Hair-Raising Drives

Explore roads of Ontario with these drives that make you reach for your hairbrush.

Roads Worth Riding

Plan your next motorcycle ride along the hand-crafted roads of Ontario’s Highlands. Wind around vast lakes, to fill up on culinary delights, and converse with friendly locals.