Georgian Bay from satellite sunrise at Birnie Island

Crew 27
Summer 2005
Kayak Trek

From 23 to 30 June 2005 Venturing Crew 27 went on a kayak trek down the eastern shore of Georgian Bay. We travelled from Bayfield Harbour to Honey Harbour, travelling a total distance in our kayaks of about 86 miles in 6 and 1/2 days of kayaking. We had five venturers and three adults on the trek.

Georgian Bay is often called the sixth Great Lake. Although it is technically only a part of Lake Huron, it is itself a very large body of fresh water, being about 125 miles long in its longest direction (roughly Northwest to Southeast) and up to 50 miles wide. The eastern shore of Georgian Bay is home to the Thirty Thousand Islands, the largest fresh-water archipelago in the world. The name "Thirty Thousand Islands" is actually quite misleading, as there are many, many more than 30,000 islands in the archipelago. It is estimated that there are about 90,000 separate islands in the Thirty Thousand Islands. It is actually impossible to count the number of islands as they are so close to each other in places that neighboring islands can join and separate as the water level rises and falls as the wind pushes water around in the bay.

lots of islets kayaking in the islands We rented kayaks from Swift Georgian Bay at Waubushene. Swift provided us with kayaks, paddles, life jackets, whistles, throw bags, and paddle floats. They also shuttled us up to our start point at Bayfield Harbour (and picked up our kayaks at Honey Harbour at the end of the trip). We spent the first day of the trek close to shore, camping on Nares Point just north of Pointe au Baril. This day was rather windy, so it was good that we were mostly paddling within the islands and thus protected from the surf and chop, which can be so vigourous as to make kayaking impossible except for experts. At times we had to scout our way through small gaps between rocky islets

lunch on Little McCoy Island heading towards McCoy Islands On the second day, we went past Pointe au Baril and headed out into more open waters to camp on the McCoy Islands. The McCoy Islands are a group of low islands about 2 miles from the shore of Georgian Bay. This day was hot but much less windy, with only a slight breeze assisting us on our way and only a very slight swell. We had lunch on Little McCoy Island where we took advantage of a rather large natural table. After lunch we continued down the McCoy Islands and camped at Birnie Island. We saw noone at all in the McCoy Island, which is a prime destination for kayakers.

a nap after lunch on Snake Island tree on Snake Island rocks on Snake Island leaving the Mink Islands On the third day, which was hot and calm, we kayaked down the McCoy and Mink island groups, with again only a slight swell to contend with. We again had the entirety of the McCoys and Minks to ourselves. We then headed back closer to the shore of the Bay to have lunch at Snake Island, another low island separated from the shore of Georgian Bay.

sunset over Cathcart Island flower on Lally Island 'swimming' camping on Lally Island After leaving Snake Island we headed into the islands that guard the entrance to Parry Sound, the largest town on the eastern shore of the Bay. We spent the third night on Lally Island, a small island near Cathcart Island. Here we had a "swim", explored the island, and watched the sunset.

rocks and lichen on Umbrella Island approved sun protection The next day, which was even hotter, we again journeyed out into the Bay to Umbrella Island. After lunching on Umbrella we zigged back into the islands, stopping for a late lunch at Henry's, a great fish restaurant on Fryingpan Island. In this part of the trip we saw many more cottages and quite a bit of boat traffic. We spent the night on Wreck Island, which is part of The Massasauga Provincial Park. The fifth day was by far our longest day. We travelled over 22 miles from Wreck Island to Tabasakwa Island to stay at a cottage for the last two night. The weather was hot and not very windy, but what wind there was was against us. We saw very few boats or people in this long section of the trip.

Split Rock Falls playing in the trickl On the sixth day we took a (relatively) short side trip to Split Rock Falls in the Musquash River. There the Musquash River flows over a ridge of harder rock. This ridge has been eroded until it looks as if there is a large, split rock damming the river. The Musquash flows around this rock, forming a falls on one side, a rapids on the other, and, if the river is high, a trickle through the split in the rock. The trickle makes quite an interesting place for water play.

On the last day we kayaked for a couple of hours from Tabasakwa Island to Honey Harbour. There our kayaks were picked up by the outfitter and we travelled back to Westfield.


This was not an easy trek, and certainly would not have been suitable for novices. The weather really cooperated—we didn't have to battle surf or chop much—but even so, we kayaked for eight hours on the fifth day. It would have been possible to split the fifth day as there are places to camp in this section of the Bay.

There are lots of other possible kayak treks in the Thirty Thousand Islands, ranging from novice trips in The Massasauga Provincial Park to a two-week, 200 mile trek from Killarney (at the North end of the Bay) to Waubushene (at the Southeast corner of the Bay).