Canada, North America, Paris

Canoeing Along the Grand River

June 28, 2014
Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

I’m a city girl at heart. I live in downtown Toronto, close to St. Lawrence Market, within walking distance of anything and everything I could ever need like Union Station, the Distillery District and Cherry Beach. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Yet despite my love for city life, I often crave an escape from the city. I want to spend time under the sun, out in nature and breathing in fresh air.

Lucky for us Greater Toronto Area (GTA) residents, such a weekend experience is possible and it’s right within our own backyard. Travel just over an hour to reach Burlington, Ontario, where you’ll base yourself as you explore the surrounding Hamilton-Halton-Brant region.

Voyage into Paradise

Voyage Into Paradise offers an easy weekend getaway. It includes a stay at a luxurious hotel, gourmet meals, First Nation storytelling and guided Voyageur canoe tours.

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Canoeing Along the Grand River

Your first canoe journey begins in the cute town of Paris, Ontario with Grand Experiences. Headed by owner Jamie Kent, his company offers canoeing, kayaking, hiking and cycling adventures in the area.

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

The first day of your Voyage Into Paradise experience will have you jumping into one of these Voyageur canoes, where you and a small group will be transported 15 kms down the beautiful Grand River.

Before heading out, you’ll be given a life jacket and brief instructions about how to handle yourself on the boat.

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Expect your arms to get a workout as you spend the morning and afternoon paddling along the gentle flow of the river.

I’ll be honest, I did not do as much paddling as others on my boat. I got to play the “photographer card” and spent my day snapping photos for this blog post.

Like me, you’ll be thankful that Jamie and his friendly staff are manning the boats, expertly steering us through the shallow and rocky water, shouting out instructions, and from time to time even having to use brute strength to pull us back into the deeper parts.

Not only that, they tell you all about the history of the area as you traverse the river.

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Being back out in nature felt fantastic. The pretty southwestern Ontario landscape, where I grew up, tugged at my heartstrings.

Since moving home to Toronto, I’ve been back to Europe three times already taking in more exotic destinations like Iceland or Italy. It was nice to explore my “home and native” land for once.

It was relaxing, peaceful and most of all fun!

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

We passed by others who were spending the day kayaking, doing self-guided tours with family and friends (which can easily be booked through Grand Experiences).

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

We also had several wildlife sightings. We saw blue heron, turtles, bald eagles, ducks, turkey vultures and these adorable Canadian geese with their goslings.

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

By early afternoon, we’d worked up quite the appetite.

We stopped at the Brant Conservation Area where we had an aboriginal-themed lunch of salmon, bison, vegetables, wild rice and crepes in this extremely lovely setting. The bison was cooked to perfection; it called for a second helping!

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

After getting some rest, reapplying sunscreen (you’ll need a lot) and fueling up on food and water, it was time to get back on the Grand River.

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Our final destination was Turtle Island, where we were treated to Six Nations storytelling. Dressed in traditional hand-sewn attire, they regaled us with stories, song and dance.

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Grand Experience Voyageur Canoe

Afterwards, we made our way back to the Brant Conservation Area where our canoeing experience ended for the day.

On Sunday, we made our way to the Royal Botanical Gardens to canoe through the marshes at Cootes Paradise. Read more about day 2 here.

Good to Know

  1. Visit Voyage Into Paradise to secure a booking now.
  2. Accommodation, meals and transportation are included in the cost, which is $449 Canadian per person (at time of publication).
  3. You’ll stay at the Waterfront Hotel in downtown Burlington. Breakfast is included each day.
  4. On Friday night, I ate dinner at the Beaver & Bulldog located within the hotel itself. Once the restaurant closes, it turns into a happening hot spot for locals. Seemed to cater towards a mature crowd.
  5. On Saturday, we had dinner at the Water Street Cooker.
  6. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. Reapply frequently.
  7. Stay hydrated and bring along a bottle of water.
  8. Read other blog posts about this experience at Mississauga Life and Late Night Plays.
  9. For day 2 of the weekend, read my first blog post about Voyage Into Paradise.

Location

* Disclosure – My Voyage Into Paradise experience was complimentary. Any opinions expressed about my love of canoeing through the Canadian wilderness are entirely my own. 

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12 Comments

  • Reply Gran Canaria Local June 28, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Nothing wrong with going local. Especially when you’ve got such stunning countryside on your doorstep. Amazing photos.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 29, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Thanks so much! Bigger trips are coming up soon but the weekend away was still great nonetheless.

  • Reply Mary @ Green Global Travel July 1, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    It’s always easy to overlook what’s basically in the backyard and just explore places far away, where people know more about your backyard than theirs too! The trip looks like a lot of fun. Summer is a great time to go in the water. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard July 1, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment Mary! It was a really fun time and a really nice weekend getaway.

  • Reply Louise Gleeson July 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Thanks so much for the mention, Cheryl. I really appreciate it. Great (and thorough) post. Loved the tips. Will be sure to share with friends of ours who are looking into the trip. Louise

    • Reply Cheryl Howard July 2, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      Thanks Louise! And not a problem. Loved your post as well. 🙂

  • Reply Carol Perehudoff July 9, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I kayaked the Nith River that runs into the Grand. Too much fun. Luckily for me it was only one afternoon. My arms would be killing me paddling all day. Oh, wait. That's why should be paddling all day …

    • Reply Cheryl Howard July 9, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      Ha ha! Or you could be like me and just take pictures. 🙂

  • Reply Laura July 10, 2014 at 12:21 am

    We had a chance to see a bit of Toronto last summer at TBEX, but obviously we need to get back to the area and explore more.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard July 11, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Yes, Laura! There are so many amazing places to explore just outside the city. It’s nice to have these types of options available when you tire of city life. 🙂

  • Reply Jennifer July 23, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Your arms will definitely get a workout! I prefer kayaking to canoeing, but it is still fun and always scenic.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard July 24, 2014 at 12:23 am

      It was so much fun! Definitely an activity that I need to do more. 🙂

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