A Canadian Outdoor Adventure, Canoeing The Grand River In Paris – Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Many of us are city people at heart. We like being close to all of the action, feeling cosmopolitan, living in a cool apartment, and being within walking distance of anything and everything we need. Yet despite our love for the urban lifestyle, we often still crave an escape from the city to spend time under the sun, be out in nature, and breath in fresh air.
Lucky for Greater Toronto Area residents (or ambitious visitors!), these escapes are possible and right in the The Big Smoke’s backyard. Travel just over an hour to reach Burlington, Ontario, where you can yourself as you explore the surrounding Hamilton-Halton-Brant region for a weekend.
Your Experience Canoeing The Grand River
Voyage Into Paradise offers an easy weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of Toronto. It includes a stay at a luxurious hotel, gourmet meals, First Nation storytelling, and guided Voyageur canoe tours.
Get Started With Canoeing 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.
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 kilometers 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.
My tips? Wear a hat and apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. Reapply frequently. Stay hydrated and bring along a bottle of water.
What It’s Like Canoeing The Grand River
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 deeper parts. Not only that, they tell you all about the history of the area as you traverse the river, as well as point out different types of wildlife you see along the way.
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 after having lived in Berlin, I’d been back to Europe on multiple occasions, taking in more exotic destinations like Iceland or Italy. It was nice to explore my “home and native” land for once. It was relaxing, wholesome, and most of all fun!
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).
Lucky for us, we also had several wildlife sightings. We spotted blue heron, turtles, bald eagles, ducks, turkey vultures, and these adorable Canadian geese with their (Ryan) goslings. 😊
Stopping For Lunch At The Brant Conservation Area
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!
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.
Making Our Way To Turtle Island
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.
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 About Canoeing The Grand River
1) Visit Grand Experiences to secure a booking now. Accommodation, meals, and transportation are included in the cost, which was $449 Canadian per person (at the time of publication).
2) You’ll likely stay at the Waterfront Hotel in downtown Burlington. Breakfast is included each day.
3) Check out other accommodation options in Burlington.
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. On Saturday, we had dinner at the Water Street Cooker.
5) If you’re looking into other local activities while in and around Toronto, book a tour.
6) If you like travelling through North America, check out some of my related content.
- Instatrip: A Weekend in Chicago, Illinois – An “instatrip” photo recap of a weekend in Chicago. From a cool hostel, to a weird museum, usual tourist spots, and an unforgettable sunset.
- What a Day in Vancouver Might Look Like (If You Were Me) – A travel guide for what to do if you have just one day in Vancouver, Canada. Follow my silly adventures of how I spent a day there.
- What You Need to Know Before You Travel to Canada – Canada celebrated their 150th anniversary this year and there’s no better time to visit. Find out what you need to know before you travel to Canada
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* Disclosure – My Voyage Into Paradise experience was complimentary. Any opinions expressed about my love of canoeing through the Canadian wilderness are entirely my own. This post also contains some affiliate links. If you book a tour or hotel through any of these links, I’ll earn a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Nothing wrong with going local. Especially when you’ve got such stunning countryside on your doorstep. Amazing photos.
Thanks so much! Bigger trips are coming up soon but the weekend away was still great nonetheless.
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!
Thanks for your kind comment Mary! It was a really fun time and a really nice weekend getaway.
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
Thanks Louise! And not a problem. Loved your post as well. 🙂
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 …
Ha ha! Or you could be like me and just take pictures. 🙂
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.
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. 🙂
Your arms will definitely get a workout! I prefer kayaking to canoeing, but it is still fun and always scenic.
It was so much fun! Definitely an activity that I need to do more. 🙂