32 Grenville Street M4Y 1A3



Christopher Greaves

Kahshe River – Sparrow Lake D Road

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

(Please see also “ Kahshe River – River Lane ” and “ Kahshe River – Elderberry Lane ”)

About 135 Km north of Jane and Steeles, up Highway 11.

Jane and Steeles to Elderberry Lane

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Take Highway 400, then Highway 11. About 3 miles after crossing the Severn at Severn bridge, exit to Rainbow Circle/Sparrow Lake Road “D” and proceed west to Baseline road. Turn North to the junction with Elderberry Lane (there is a building materials site). Turn left for about three hundred yards until you come to the bridge.

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The building materials site is to the right of the letter “B” above.

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We plan to canoe the central segment to complete the river pretty well from lake to lake.

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A beautiful morning. Here is the view from the bridge looking upstream to the horse paddock. We contemplated putting in above the bridge and walking the canoe under the bridge. The bridge has a fifteen-inch wide concrete platform either side, dry today but underwater last May.

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The flow is greatly reduced from our trip in May.

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Here is the view downstream from the bridge. We explored under the bridge for quite a few minutes looking for a better spot, but in the end we put in on the north side of the river, right-hand side of this photo.

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There is a trail, quite steep, down to the water. About three steps are formed from large rocks half-way down.

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These two large rocks identify the start of the trail.

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Here is the view of the launch spot trail, directly across from the house.

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Trains cross fairly frequently; we heard several during our stay.

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Clickety-clack, clickety-clack.

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Perfect summer morning sky, low cirrus.

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At this point our gear is on the river-bank – that’s a red life-jacket visible to the left of center.

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Glorious flowers grace the bank.

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And we are in! Ripples spread out from the canoe as we push off, and flecks of foam carry downstream from the bridge.

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Here we are heading downstream. There wasn’t much of a current at all.

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A hundred yards in we come to a denuded bank. The property owner appears to have cut back all the trees from the riverbank and dumped sand on the bank. Denuded of cover, of course, the bank is now weeping into the river with each rain fall.

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The water is glassy-calm, perfect reflections. At this point I was wondering whether to give the river an 8.5 or a 9.

Fred reserved judgment.


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What’s this? A blockage? Not ten minutes into our paddle we meet the first of about eight obstructions.

The paddle turned into an obstacle course.

We pulled the canoe over the log and continued.

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Beds of lime-green reeds carpeted the river surface.

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A pool of scum tells us that there is no flow whatsoever around this obstacle.

We hopped out like frogs on a log at the left-hand side, where a branch can be seen resting on the log, and dragged the canoe over.


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Once over and back in the canoe I took a photo of the upstream scummy side. Yech!

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We met several curious bridge structures. (There is a second photo of this structure towards the end of the essay).

This was an easy paddle-through.

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DUCK! And we are though this one easily.

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It takes more faith than I had realized to lie flat on my back in a canoe gliding under an obstruction, hoping that we wouldn’t bump into something before I could get upright and back in control of a paddle.

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Clear sailing!

Until the next log-jam.


Fred conceded an 8.5 at this point, but only on a scale of one to a hundred.

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We skirted a couple of jams by dexterous positioning of the canoe, but this one we carried along the northern bank for about fifty yards.

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But this one was a stopper. Fred climbed out to reconnoiter the downstream reaches while I back-paddled into the shade of another large tree.

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Out we get and stroll down the banks. This was along the southern bank, a very pretty spot, too pretty to pass up as a luncheon spot.

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An hour after reaching the jam we have had lunch and carried the canoe fifty yards along the southern bank. No sense in hurrying things.

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Several large outcrops of rock presented themselves.

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Another chance to segue through a jam.

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We spent the day moving from sunny to dappled to shade to bright to dark …

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We found many sandy beaches suitable for a break, but we had eaten all our lunches.

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The colors are spectacular; the bright sky helped.

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This is a shot of Fred putting his seat in place.

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Still the water is glassy.

I can hardly write “Still the water is still”.

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Here we approach another hand-built bridge. This one shows up on Google Earth ( 44°48'51.35"N, 79°21'8.82"W)

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The bridge consists of four I-beam girders. DUCK!

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As we drifted around this bend, two parent ducks rose in alarm from the swampy inlet to the left. They flew off squawking in alarm.

Ten seconds later a half-dozen offspring, light brown in colour, rose and flew of in scattered directions. A couple of them headed into the trees and could be heard crashing through the branches, poor beggars.

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In places the water was muddy-brown. Cow pastures drain into the river.

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Then there are the glades.

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At last we approach the River Lane rapids.

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Two hours twenty minutes after launch we have traveled about one and a half kilometers as the duck flies, and an hour of that was spent at lunch time meandering around the banks.

The canoe is beached on the rock ledge.

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We stretch and point to pairs of Muskoka chairs up on the rocks.

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Here is the view downstream from the rapids. We reached this point October 17th last year.

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Standing on the rocks we can see the River Lane bridge.

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Here is a slightly better view.

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We stroll around, stretch the legs . . .

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. . . take photos of swarms of water-bugs.

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The flow is reduced at this time of year. We have had a dry summer, so I suppose this means we witness little overflow from Kahshe Lake upstream from here.

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Muskoka chairs to the left of us.

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Muskoka chairs to the right of us.

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What a perfect spot.

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What a perfect day.

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After a fifteen-minute break we head back upstream.

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Here is yet another failed structure. The large river-rocks are hand-stacked each side of the river.

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They look to me like two-man rocks.

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We had to keep asking ourselves how we passed the jams; of course they look different on the approach from downstream.

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Here is the approach to the I-beam bridge.

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The caisson(?) is formed from hand-carved logs arranged in a rectangle, with concrete poured in to the matrix. Perhaps the core is rock-filled.

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For every portage down stream, there is a portage upstream.

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And here we are in sight of the Sparrow Lake Road bridge, our launch spot.

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It looks even better than it did this morning.

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One last lingering look back at the launch spot.

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Fred sets off to fetch the car.

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While I stack our gear over the guardrail.

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We have now canoed the entire river EXCEPT for the rapids that bracket Highway 11.


416-993-4953 CPRGreaves@gmail.com

Toronto, Friday, September 08, 2017 10:10 AM

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