Paddlers head northwest of Sudbury to rediscover long-lost canoe route

This week, five women will set out with adventurer David Lee looking for some some lost history.

Quest began after Aurora's David Lee found an old map from before the First World War

This coming week, a group of Ontario paddlers will be trekking along crown land northwest of Sudbury to re-open a century-old canoe route. (Submitted/David Lee)

This week, five women will set out with adventurer David Lee looking for some some lost history.

They're on a canoe trip to rediscover an old route that's not been used in decades. That means bushwhacking through overgrown portages — not unlike the early voyageurs would have done. 

This quest began after Aurora's David Lee found a 1914 canoe route map. One particular route sparked his interest — northwest of Sudbury, near the Mississagi River and Russian Lake. 

The paddlers will be starting at Mink Lake, which is accessed from a logging road northwest of Sudbury. They plan to cover 10-15 kilometres of the route over a six-day period. (Submitted/David Lee)

The route would require taking his canoeing experience to an extreme level, but he was all in.

Known as the "passionate paddler" on social media, Lee put out a call to other canoeing enthusiasts to see if anyone wanted to volunteer their time to re-discover and re-open the route.

So far, he's taken two groups up to bushwhack and clear the portages. And on Wednesday, he takes a third group of women from all over Ontario to do more bushwhacking and paddling.

This will be the third time paddling enthusiast David Lee takes a group of people along the old canoe route. He looks at opening up the route as a way to give back to the paddling community. (Submitted/David Lee)

For this trip, Lee says they will establish a trail and put some campsites along the way. They'll likely move 10 to 15 kilometres along the route before heading back.

"My idea is to have a challenge," he said. "I didn't just want to go there and cut a trail."

Lee says it's more than just an adventure — he says the work they do will be a legacy project for the paddling community.

The 1914 map that inspired David Lee to look into opening up an old canoe route located northwest of Sudbury. (Submitted/David Lee)


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