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

Christopher Greaves Elderberry_001.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves Elderberry_002.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves Elderberry_003.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2699.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2700.JPG

The flow is greatly reduced from our trip in May.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2701.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2702.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2703.JPG

These two large rocks identify the start of the trail.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2704.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2705.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2706.JPG


Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2707.JPG

Clickety-clack, clickety-clack.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2708.JPG

Perfect summer morning sky, low cirrus.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2709.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2710.JPG

Glorious flowers grace the bank.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2711.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2712.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2713.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2714.JPG

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.


Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2715.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2716.JPG

Beds of lime-green reeds carpeted the river surface.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2717.JPG

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.


Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2718.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2719.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2720.JPG

DUCK! And we are though this one easily.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2721.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2722.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2723.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2724.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2725.JPG


Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2727.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2728.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2729.JPG

Several large outcrops of rock presented themselves.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2730.JPG

Another chance to segue through a jam.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2731.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2732.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2733.JPG

The colors are spectacular; the bright sky helped.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2734.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2735.JPG

Still the water is glassy.

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2736.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2737.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2738.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2739.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2740.JPG

Then there are the glades.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2741.JPG

At last we approach the River Lane rapids.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2742.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2743.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2744.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2745.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2746.JPG

Here is a slightly better view.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2747.JPG

We stroll around, stretch the legs . . .

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2748.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2749.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2750.JPG

Muskoka chairs to the left of us.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2751.JPG

Muskoka chairs to the right of us.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2752.JPG

What a perfect spot.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2753.JPG

What a perfect day.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2754.JPG

After a fifteen-minute break we head back upstream.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2755.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2756.JPG

They look to me like two-man rocks.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2757.JPG


Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2758.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2760.JPG

Here is the approach to the I-beam bridge.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2761.JPG

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.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2762.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2763.JPG

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

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2764.JPG

It looks even better than it did this morning.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2765.JPG

One last lingering look back at the launch spot.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2766.JPG

Fred sets off to fetch the car.

Christopher Greaves SparrowLakeDrive_HPIM2767.JPG

While I stack our gear over the guardrail.

Christopher Greaves Elderberry_004.JPG

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


416-993-4953 CPRGreaves@gmail.com

Toronto, Wednesday, June 17, 2015 11:31 AM

Copyright © 1996-2015 Chris Greaves. All Rights Reserved.