Canoeing & Kayaking the Tay Watershed
Links to Useful Information
Before You Go
(Click image for a larger version)
Welcome to one of the little-known pleasures in the Tay watershed - canoeing and kayaking our pristine streams and lakes. This web page will provide information on some of the trips that you might consider, with links to other excellent sources, including photos and maps.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for those of us who love this sport - many of these great tours are not well-traveled. Thus, there is not a great amount of detailed information available on them. We invite you to explore these water bodies and send us your impressions ~ click here to contact us.
Please remember that the descriptions and comment provided here are not official, and that conditions are often changing. Thus, regrettably, we cannot guarantee their accuracy or take responsibility for the safety of your trip. However, to the extent possible, these descriptions aim to point out the areas where particular care is needed.
Tay Watershed Maps
The Tay watershed, at over 90 kilometres in length, offers many great water bodies for your fun and exploration. The main destination for canoeists and kayakers is usually somewhere on the Tay River, however, many other streams and lakes are also popular.
And there are many lakes, ponds and creeks in the watershed - over 50, in fact - all of which will take you into a beautiful new world of outdoor experiences. The most known, in the past, have been the huge Bobs and Crow Lakes at the top of the watershed and Christie Lake in the middle. For a complete list of these water bodies, click here.
For canoeing and kayaking trips, the Tay River may be considered in three distinct sections:
- the "upper" Tay River, which runs six kms. (four miles) from near the outlet of Bobs Lake, at Bolingbroke, to Christie Lake - this section is largely uninhabited and optionally includes crossing Christie Lake (six kms.);
- the ""middle" Tay, covering the 17 km. (eleven mile) section from Christie Lake to Perth, has a magnificent mixture of isolation, historic mills, and, near the end, houses, a golf course and small dams (take out in Perth at Haggart Dam or portage to the Perth Basin and have lunch at a great restaurant);
- and, the "lower" section, which is the ten km. long, Tay Canal, from Perth to the Beveridge Locks at Lower Rideau Lake, through the Tay marsh.
Each has interesting and different attractions, as you will see in the descriptions.
Of the many creeks in the watershed (click here for a list), the most popular are Grants and Jebbs. Both should be done in high water in the spring, and are pleasant trips, through wetlands, with no rapids. You will inevitably encounter a few beaver dams along the way, however.
Links to Sources of Information and Personal Voyages
Your Guided Tour on the Tay Canal
~ This guide was produced by the "Tay Canal Tours", which provided guided tours on this historic canal on the Blue Goose between 2014 and 2016.
- "Canoeing the Tay" brochure ~ this FoTW brochure provides a brief description of three trips: on Bobs and Crow Lakes; on the Tay River from Christie Lake to Glen Tay; and on the Tay Canal section of the River.
Print in double sided brochure format ~ click here
- Aerial photos of many areas in the Tay watershed ~ click on the aerial photo icon for your area of interest
- Canoe Routes in the Area ~ including 3 routes in Tay Watershed (#21, #25 7 #26) ~ provided by Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists ~ be sure to click on the PDF document Lanark County Canoe & Kayak Journeys and the related canoe journey map.
- Tay River from Christie Lake to Perth ~ perhaps the most popular single route in the watershed ~ provided by John Cole
Tay Canal ~ Rideau Day Paddling Guide 10
Tay Canal ~ Rideau Heritage Route ~
See page 7
- Tay Canal ~ see page three of this Rideau Canal Office pdf document
- Tay Canal (upper portion) ~ provided by Canadian Canoe Routes
- Tay Canal ~ very brief reference to Tay Canal under "Rideau Lakes Section" in Pat's Rideau Waterway Cruising Guide.
- Tay River - from Beveridge Dam to the Port Elmsley (Mouth of the Tay) ~ provided by Denis Myers
- Docking facilities in Perth for paddlers and other boaters ~ from the Town of Perth website
- Camping at Last Duel Park ~ information, reservations,etc.
History of the Tay Watershed
For those who wish to be better informed on these historic routes, we recommend the following sources:
- "The Dammed Lakes", by Lloyd Jones, 1999 - history and ecology of the Bobs and Crow Lakes
- "Living By The Chase", by Lloyd Jones, 2002 - on the First Nations peoples of the Bobs and Crow Lakes region
- "A Paddle Down the Tay", by Susan Code - a great, short history of the contentious Tay Canal ~ click here
- The First Tay Canal, by H. R. Morgan - An Abortive Upper Canadian Transportation Enterprise of a Century Ago ~ click here
- "Mills of the Tay" , by David Taylor ~ check out this interesting and informative book on the Mills of the Tay and see if you can locate the remaining mills and mill sites on your journey ~
Click Here for the PDF version.
Before you go
Note: Before you leave on your trip, we recommend that you review the minimum personal and boat equipment required under the Small Vessel Regulations of the Ministry of Transport regulations, which are more stringent than many boaters know.
In summary, the canoes or kayaks under six m. (19' 8") in length must carry:
- A Canadian-approved personal flotation device or lifejacket of appropriate size for each person on board
- A buoyant heaving line no less than 15 m (49"3") in length
- A manual propelling device (a paddle or oar)
- A bailer with a certain capacity or a manual water pump
- A sound-signaling device (whistle)
- Navigation lights, if the pleasure craft is operated after sunset and before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility.
The foregoing is only a summary list and some of the items have very specific design requirements. You may review the complete list at page 16 of the Safe Boating Guide
by clicking here.