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Pam Martin & John Kernaghan

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A perfect red chair roost overlooking Kidston Lighthouse in beautiful Bras D'Or Lake, a stones throw away from quaint but bustling Baddeck, NS. A welcome respite for travellers expanding their minds with the amazingly illuminating history found in the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. Next stop Tatamagouche, NS. 
Read  more about our Cross Canada Paddling Roadtrip, celebrating Canada 150, on our blog: CanadaOnboard.ca 🇨🇦 @cbwestsup @bluejellyfishsup @visitnovascotia @nstourism @tourcanada @tourcapebreton @capebretontourism @parks.canada @parkscanadaredchair #sharethechair #baddeck #explore #explorecanada #explorecanada #explorens #capebreton #nova scotia #cabottrail #adventuresforthesoul #roadtrip #canada150 #parkscanada #alexandergrahambell #alexandergrahambellmuseum #museum #crosscanadapaddlingroadtrip Although we love the paddling and scenery our adventure is about so much more. Savouring the cuisine of local eateries is high on our list of must do experiences. The Dancing Goat Cafe & Bakery, along the Cabot Trail in Margaree, NS is one of our favourites. It's delicious food, engaging locales and comfortable ambience proved the perfect spot for us to slow our pace and get some work done.  Read more about our Cross Canada Paddling Roadtrip celebrating Canada 150 on our blog: CanadaOnboard.ca Jeremy Smith of @cbwestsup leads us swishing through the grasses with our gear. He knows all the secret, hidden  launches along the Margaree River, raising the adventure factor of our afternoon paddle to a higher level. 
Check out our blog CanadaOnboard.ca to read more about our Cross Canada Paddling Roadtrip celebrating Canada 150🇨🇦 @cbwestsup @bluejellyfishsup @visitnovascotia @nstourism @tourcanada @tourcanada @tourcapebreton @capebretontourism @visitcapebretonisland @capebretonpost #visitnovascotia #explore #explorecanada #explorens #novascotia #capebreton #cabottrail #margaree #margareeriver #adventuresforthesoul #roadtrip #canada #canada150 #crosscanadapaddlingroadtrip 🎶 Last night I heard an owl cry 
And so I took a walk outside 
And saw the northern lights dance lightly 
High above a wild Cape Breton Sky 
Felt the north west wind blow softly 
All along the valley from the sea 
And from my doorway watched the moonrise 
High above the hills of Margaree🎶

The Hills of Margaree-Jim Brannigan Paddling on Cape Bretons' beautiful Margaree River feels as though you've been painted into an Old Masters landscape. Jeremy Smith of CB West Paddle Boards @cbwestsup expertly guided us through shallow rapids, respectfully skirted serious salmon fishers, and allowed us to enjoy the bucolic settings along  the quiet portions of this river he grew up on. Soaring eagles & leaping salmon brought us as close to nature as one can get. 
Read more about our  Margaree River adventure on our blog CanadaOnboard.ca
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@cbwestsup @visitnovascotia @nstourism @tourcapebreton @capebretontourism @paddlecanada @bluejellyfishsup #visitnovascotia #explore #explorecanada #explorens #capebreton #novascotia #cabottrail #Margaree #margareeriver #cheticamp #capebretonhighlands #sup #standuppaddle #paddleboarding #paddle #paddlecanada #adventuresforthesoul #roadtrip #crosscanadapaddleroadtrip #canada #canad150 #coasttocoast150 #oldmasterspainting #salmon One of the goals of our cross Canada paddling road trip was to connect with local stand up paddling groups and businesses to give them an opportunity to share their favourite paddling locations with the hope that others may be inspired to explore there as well. And if you decide to venture to some of the locales we visit, you will know who to contact for  local knowledge as well as get you geared up or guided along the way. Jeremy Smith, of CB West Paddle Boards @cbwestsup took us on an incredible  tour of Cape Breton's beautiful Margaree River. This river  has long been on Pams' bucket list but it's secret launches and unpredictable depths have made it difficult to navigate. Jeremy, a Margaree native, made it all possible! Not only was the paddle everything we thought it might be, but Jeremy was awesome accommodating our schedule, providing gear, sorting out a shuttle and bestowing upon us the friendly hospitality Cape Breton is known for. Oh, and we can't forget the fresh cinnamon buns that appeared out of his dry bag during a rest stop! Pure magic!! @cbwestsup @visitnovascotia @nstourism #visitnovascotia @visitcapebretonisland @tourcapebreton @capebretontourism #explore #explorecanada #explorens #capebreton #novascotia #cabottrail #margaree #cheticamp #capebretonhighlands #sup #standuppaddle #paddleboarding @paddlecanada #paddlecanada #adventuresforthesoul @bluejellyfishsup #shareoceanpassion #roadtrip #crosscanadapaddleroadtrip #canada #canada150

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The stubby branches of the submerged tree menaced so close they felt like they were reaching out to grab me. And no matter how hard I paddled, I could not seem to put any distance between my board and the dilemma of these two horns a mere metre behind me.

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A misty morning view from the wharf at Wild Renfrew. Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park & the trailhead for the West Coast Trail can be seen across Port San Juan.

We were on the San Juan River on the edge of the wilderness where the road from Victoria, on Vancouver Island, B.C., ends. And a howling wind hit peak velocity as Pam guided me closer to shore where there was a respite from wind and tide.
If only I could gain a few precious feet and pop free of this watery treadmill I was on. And my mind raced. We were off the grid with no cell service and only a footpath running alongside the river for an exit.

Stand Up Paddler in Training

This was not quite what we had in mind for me to gain more confidence in the buildup to our cross-country trip to celebrate Canada’s 150th and the nation’s waterways.
But it’s not an adventure if it doesn’t throw a scare into you and this was both test and slight fright.

So the wind abated enough to get clear of the threat and we settled down (on knees and butt respectively to minimize the wind’s resistance) to a slow, determined paddle back to our launch point.
Pam plotted a path along seams of slack water between the chop of incoming tide and the bridge where the river spilled into the estuary of Port San Juan began to take shape. I will forever call it A Bridge Too Far.

The joy of the easy ride on the tide up the river was lost in that slow slog home and I cursed my impatience in not simply idling away another hour on a pristine bar of sand while the tide turned.
Anyway, it is a sweet little river to meander along, alive with bubbling water and birdsong and almost totally ours one glorious afternoon save for a few kayakers.

Wild Renfrew – “Wilderness Within Reach”

We were able to put in about a five-minute drive from Wild Renfrew where we stayed. It was a small but well-appointed accommodation called a Wharfside Studio, with either sunrise or sunset views and little patios with gas fire pits to ward off the evening chill. There’s also cottages which enjoy bay and mountain views and lodge accommodation with kitchenettes.
Port Renfrew, which is a 90-minute drive from Victoria, has been rebranded as Wild Renfrew and recreation outfits like Pacifica Paddle Sports are setting up shop to serve leisure and adventure paddlers.

 

Local Gastronomy

The dining options are limited in this area, but the three options all scored good marks.
Renfrew Pub at the West Coast Trail Lodge offered the widest range of food and is open later, to around 8 p.m., while the Coastal Kitchen, also operated by Wild Renfrew, and Tomi’s are breakfast and lunch places.

Renfrew Pub

Renfrew Pub – an outdoor patio with stunning views & scrumptious fare, hardy enough for West Coast Trail thru hikers.

 

But there’s food for the stomach and food for the soul. Wild Renfrew delivered plenty of the latter.

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