This is what summer in Canada is all about

Wild islands, rocky shorelines, majestic pines, pristine lakes, rushing rapids, plenty of fish, and sun-filled days.  Living in Thunder Bay definitely has some perks and its proximity to some truly stunning natural settings is right up there on the list as far as we’re concerned. Located a mere 162 km or two hour drive from Thunder Bay is Quetico Provincial Park; 460,000 hectares of remote wilderness with over 2,000 lakes. We took an extended August long weekend to go for a little paddling trip into the interior and basked in the park’s natural beauty for five perfect Canadian summer days.


  • Not seeing another human for over 24 hours
  • Catching a ton of fish
  • Swimming whenever and wherever
  • Camping on “our own private islands”
  • Seeing a massive snapping turtle, a cute painted turtle, many bald eagles, and a huge golden eagle
  • Star gazing and watching the northern lights dance across a moonless sky
  • Reading and drinking wine in shady pine groves and on sunny outcrops
  • Paddling through wild rice plants
  • Feasting on chanterelle mushrooms, fresh fish, blueberries and saskatoon berries
  • Enjoying the amazingly hot and sunny weather we had for nearly the entire trip

Our Route

This was a really fun route that was recommended by our good friend Cory Bagdon who spent over ten years as a guide in Quetico’s interior. It took us through some beautiful lakes, past many rapids, and just far enough in the interior to find some blissful solitude.

  • Day 1: Put in at Stanton Bay on Pickerel Lake as the sun was setting (and the bugs were coming out) and made camp right away.
  • Day 2: Paddled and portaged from Stanton Bay to Olifaunt Lake through Bisk Lake, Beg Lake, Bud Lake, and Fern Lake.
  • Day 3: Went from Olifaunt Lake to Jesse Lake through the Pickerel River, Halliday Lake, and Elizabeth Lake.
  • Day 4: Returned to Pickerel Lake (where we made camp not too far from Stanton Bay) through Maria Lake, Mosquito Point, and the Pickerel Narrows.
  • Day 5: Came back out at Stanton Bay after debating whether we should live off fish, berries and mushrooms and stay in the park for the rest of the summer.

Click here to see a map of the park with the portage routes. Stanton Lake and the short portage leading into Stanton Bay off Pickerel Lake is on the north park border approximately half way between Dawson Trail and Atikokan. The loop we did covers only a tiny fraction of park’s vast network of lakes, rivers, and portages. There is so much to explore in this amazing place!


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