Canoeing in New Brunswick
©Outdoor Adventure Canada
few rivers have names as evocative as the Miramichi in New Brunswick.
The Mighty Miramichi, as it is sometimes referred to, flows out into
Miramichi Bay in north-eastern New Brunswick. Where it comes from is
more difficult to ascertain. The Miramichi, renowned as the most important
Atlantic Salmon River in the world, is fed by countless streams, brooks
and tiny lakes which constitute a huge watershed. The longest and best
known of its branches is the Main South West Miramichi.
The Main South West Miramichi practically cuts the province
in half, from west to east, beginning roughly mid point between Grand
Falls and Fredericton. Its most populated area is at its mouth, near
the city of Miramichi; towns are dotted regularly as you travel upstream
and thin out once you get past Boiestown.
There are many outfitters and lodges in and around the
Doaktown area. These offer adventures which can include as much as a
fully appointed and stocked private cabin on the river's edge for a
lovers' weekend to as little as a canoe, paddles and pfds for half day
trips. Enthusiasts more inclined to discover the wilder side of the
Miramichi will have to head up river towards Juniper Station. Its ultimate
source is situated on land belonging to the oil/paper magnate JD Irving.
The first publicly accessible put in is at Half Moon, near Dearside.
The best time to ensure the water level of the streams,
where the Mighty Miramichi is modest indeed, are high enough is in late
spring. Unfortunately, that is also the every-possible-bug-that-bites
season. Bring industrial quantities of insect repellant and, if you
are particularly sensitive or want to keep your sanity, bug nets. The
geography near the headwaters consists of wooded pools linked by winding
streams. Again, water level is a consideration to avoid scraping bottom,
or worse, having to portage from one pool to the next.
river route from the Half Moon put in to Boiestown can be paddled in
2 or 3 days, depending on how aggressive you choose to be. It includes
several rapids and swifts and areas where it is definitely better to
stop and scout prior to continuing. Make sure you have an accurate,
detailed and up to date map before you set out.
One interesting side trail accessible from the riverside
is that which leads to Falls Brook Falls. It is a wood road leading
up a steep incline which can be seen just past an island, about 30 minutes
downstream from Clearwater. Falls Brook Falls, the tallest in New Brunswick,
drops 24 metres before hitting the rock wall and tumbling the last 6
metres in a puff of mist. The falls are on private property and there
is a cost to access the site.
A popular take out spot is at the Hayesville Bridge,
about one hour after the Miramichi re-enters civilization. If you don't
mind being back in the populated areas, continue on to Boiestown. En
route, you will encounter rocky swifts from pool to pool, but no real
All along the route are campsites, each situated, it
seems, to enable the visitor to more fully appreciate some feature of
the landscape. There are wooded peaks, meadows, islands - all areas
where if you are lucky you can observe moose, deer and several species
of aquatic birds and birds of prey. There are also cabins which the
owners leave open to other travelers, asking only that they be left
in the same state they were found in.
Canoeing the Miramichi is a memorable adventure in a
region full of beautiful scenery and unspoiled waterways.
Written by Mariane Coulombe
Photos courtesy Miramichi Memories