Most Endangered Canoe Routes

of 2006


By Bob Olajos



Rabbit Lake to Lower Twin via Breeze

Threat: logging

This canoe route is known by the MNR as an 'unverified linear feature.' It does not appear on MNR's Temagami Canoe Routes Map or the Historical Map (Nastawgan) of Temagami by Craig Macdonald. But it is travelled every year, particularly by Rabbit Lake cottagers.

Map: Rabbit, Lower Twin & Breeze lakes canoe route

It tops this year's list of Temagami's Most Endangered Canoe Routes because Goulard Lumber has been allocated Block 58. Four of the portages along this route will be destroyed in 2006, unless they are given Portage status by the MNR. The MNR should follow its own policy and establish an Area of Concern reserve of 30 meters on both sides of all unprotected portages, as well as a 30- to 60-metre modified reserve on each side (ie. 60 to 90 metres on each side). This is the minimum level of protection MNR sets on active portages in Temagami.

Solution: MNR Portage status designation with addition of Area of Concern reserve.

Map: Chambers, Charley & Spawning lakes canoe route


Chambers Lake to Spawning via Charley

Threat: logging

These two interlinked canoe routes are recognized on the Historical Map of Temagami (Nastawgan map) by Craig Macdonald, but are not on the Temagami Canoe Routes Planning Map. Contrary to popular belief, recognized historical routes (nastawgan) in need of repair do not receive protection in the Forest Management Planning process.

This route currently sees little use, but provides a critical linkage between Lake Temagami's Northeast Arm and Anima Nipissing Lake. Restoring these routes could alleviate heavy canoe traffic in the hub area of Lake Temagami. They are included in Temagami's Most Endangered Canoe Routes because the Temagami First Nation has been allocated Block 48, which lies between Charley, Sutton, and Business Lakes. Without Heritage Trail status around the portages in this area, the future of these routes will be severely compromised. This provides 120-metre reserves on each side of the trail. This is the minimum level of protection MNR sets on nastawgan portages in Temagami.

Solution: MNR Heritage Trail designation




Q&A with Bob Olajos

Bob Olajos is a member of the Local Citizens' Committee on MNR's forest management planning team for Temagami and a canoe guide living in Temagami.

Brian Back: Why are you not recommending larger protection buffers around the portages?

Bob: MNR has policies in place to protect them. They should be adhering to their own rules. That's a minimum of 60 metres on each side of an active portage and 120 on a heritage trail.

Brian: Some of these portages have buffers in the cutting plans. Doesn't this mean they will be protected?

Bob: They are preliminary buffers. An archaeologist will be sent there and if he does not find evidence of a nastawgan (very likely), then they lose that protection and are wiped off the map, as happened to the Aston-Eagle nastawgan in 2003. The public should know this before it happens, not after.

Brian: Why is it very unlikely the archaeologist won't find evidence of a nastawgan?

Bob: Let's remember there are two kind of portage trails: those in active use today and ancient nastawgan, possibly unused for a long period. The archaeologist digs two or three pits at each end of an active portage. If he doesn't find any campfire rings or arrowheads, he reports that the trail has no archaeological evidence. The MNR and forestry company take that lack of evidence to mean that the portage trail was only recently cut, and give it a smaller buffer as a result. The newer the trail, the smaller the buffer. Furthermore, the forestry company hires and pays for the archaeologist. So his report is the property of the forestry company, and is not part of the public record. There's a huge potential for conflict of interest here.

Brian: Route 1 is not on the Temagami Canoes Route Map or the Nastawgan Map. Why should it be protected?

Bob: Although both maps are drawn by experts Hap Wilson and Craig Macdonald there were some unintentional omissions. These should not be used to justify destroying portages. 

  Posted: April 10, 2006

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