Years back when I was still living in Canada, I spent a fun (not to mention sun) filled day canoeing along the Grand River in nearby Paris, Ontario. The next day, I’d finish off my Voyage Into Paradise experience by canoeing through Cootes Paradise Marsh.

Canoeing Through Cootes Paradise Marsh

Voyage Into Paradise offers an easy weekend getaway for those looking to briefly escape Toronto. It includes a stay at a luxurious hotel, gourmet meals, First Nation storytelling, and guided Voyageur canoe tours on both days.

Cootes Paradise is Ontario’s largest wetland, home to an abundance of wildlife such as fish, birds, plants, and mammals. Located in Hamilton, Ontario, the site is run by the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG). Together with our friends from Grand Experiences and some friendly staff from RBG, we jumped into our Voyageur canoes and headed out on the water.

The marsh was beautiful and unexpectedly quiet. The only noises came from us and the wildlife. We calmly spent a few hours paddling through the shallow waters and learning more about this special place.

Unfortunately, Cootes Paradise saw an ecological decline due to humans, pollution, and the addition of non-native species into the environment. By 1985, most of the plant cover was gone as were the majority of native species. The birds congregated on this tiny island are an example of an invasive species that contributed to the decline. Fortunately, the population of these birds has lessened over time. Even swans, those glorious and beautiful birds, upset the delicate ecological balance in Cootes Paradise.

Thanks to the ongoing efforts of RBG, the marsh is slowly being returned to its natural state. You’ll notice that the water is quite brown due to a lack of plants and mud bottoms. Where you see plant growth, the water is clearer and healthier. It even gives the chance for lily pads to grow. Despite my best efforts, I didn’t find any frogs to kiss so I could turn them into my own Prince Charming!

After the canoe ride was over, we made our way back to the main garden area for a refreshing lunch under this gazebo. We then finished off the weekend by taking a brief tour with the horticultural staff to see more of Canada’s largest botanical garden.

What do you think about this canoeing activity? Would you go on such an adventure? Tell us about it in the comments below.


Good to Know

1) Visit Grand Experiences to secure a booking now. Accommodation, meals, and transportation are included in the cost, which is $449 Canadian per person (at the time of publication).

2) You’ll stay at the Waterfront Hotel in downtown Burlington. Breakfast is included each day. 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 but seems to cater to a “mature” crowd. On Saturday, we had dinner at the Water Street Cooker.

3) Other pro tips? Wear a hat and apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. Reapply frequently. Stay hydrated and bring along a bottle of water.

4) If you’re heading to the area on your own, check out accommodation options in Burlington with

5) If you’re in the Toronto area, consider booking a fun local tour.

6) For more great Canadian content, check out some of our other top posts.