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June 15, 2001

Amable du Fond River popular with canoeists

The Amable du Fond River starts some 84 km. south and south-west of its outlet in the Samuel de Chaplain Provincial Park on the Mattawa River west of Mattawa. The river passes through several large lakes and numerous rapids as it drops 800 feet in its travels north. A large section of the river drains the NW corner of Algonquin Park. The Park portages are clear and well maintained which is not entirely the case outside the Park. Outfitters provide canoes for flat water and canoes and kayaks for white water at both ends of the river.

The Algonquin Park Canoe Routes and the Mattawa Heritage River Maps provide information of interest as do several books on the Park. The rapids, especially from Kiosk to Champlain Park, should not be tried by inexperienced canoeists. A guide book on the river is badly needed.

The river starts on Pipe Lake in Ballantyne Township on the edge of the Park and curves west through Kawawaymog Lake (the name means Round so the lake is usually called that). There is an Algonquin Park Access Point on the Lake (23 Km. from South River) with several outfitters on the way.

From Round Lake the Amable du Fond heads east into North Tea Lake and the Park. North Tea has several camping spots and a long history of youth camps, loggers, ranger depots etc. The Fassett Lumber Corporation Railway hauled logs from the north shore to Fossmill in the 1920s and 30s.

The Ontario Living Legacy land use strategy (1999) has designated a 21,220 hectare enhanced management area to the west of the Park to protect the river’s headwaters. The Algonquin Park Master Plan (1998)has designated a 660 hectare nature reserve on the south shore of North Tea Lake.

Donald Lloyd in his new book Canoeing in Algonquin Park (2000) discusses the area (chapter 12). He indicates that there are 2 portages outside the Park where the river enters the park on the west, and that one is a 125 meter portage that can be shot if one is aware of 2 sharp corners and a tight channel. There is a 225 meter portage as you enter the incredible beauty of North Tea Lake.

Lloyd points out and provides a drawing of the memorial cairn to Park Rangers Frank Robichaud and Tom Wattie. He goes on to comment that Lake Manitou, the next lake on the river, is one of his favorite lakes because it is not as busy as the others on the river and the fishing is good. He notes the old Du Fond Farm at the north end of Manitou where the first (1190 meter) portage into Lake Kioshkokwi passes across the old farm. There are several long standing family cottage leases on Lake Manitou and on Lake Kioshkokwi, the next lake on the river.

The Wigwam Lodge on Lake Kioshkokwi closed in the 1920s, but is still used by the Bartletts and Hancocks every year. J. R. Booth owned a parcel of land where the Amable du Fond leaves the lake on its trip north. This was relocated further south in the Staniforth Lumber era and the Staniforths have two fine cottages there (see map).

In future articles I will talk about the 3 logging eras on the Amable du Fond and area beginning with William Mackey (1870-1902). He was followed by J. R. Booth (1902-1930) and Sidney Staniforth (1936-1973). In the Staniforth era Kiosk became the largest community to exist in the Park.

Kiosk is now an Access Point in the park with camp sites and an old Rangers Cabin for rent. Kiosk has great potential for recreational and educational development possibly using the old railbed as a trail and the site for some type of interpretation of the historical and natural heritage of the area.

Twin Bridges -Doug Mackey photo

The Kiosk to Samuel de Champlain Park section of the river has several rapids including the Eau Claire Gorge mentioned in this column last July. A privately owned electrical generating station diverts some of the rivers water for power which is sold into the grid network.

Both Mackey and Booth used the old Eau Claire site and village in their day and there was an office, store, boarding houses, school, rail station etc. and in Mackey’s case a sawmill at the twin bridges.

There are two outfitters on Highway 630 into Kiosk and the nearby Ecology Centre has equipment for use by their participants.

As the river passes through Smith Lake and under the twin bridges into Crooked Lake it enters Moore Lake in the Samuel de Champlain Park. The main activity of the park and the Canadian Ecology Centre takes place here. The Ontario Living Legacy land use strategy outlines great plans for the area in the Champlain Park and in the Mattawa Heritage River Park where the Amable du Fond enters the Mattawa River. Its natural heritage, and recreational and ecological features will be preserved and enhanced by the MNR, the park, the Ecology Centre and Nipissing University assuring a great future for the Amable du Fond.

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