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Viki Mather: In the wilds, at the mercy of the weather … right where I’d like to be

Columnist Viki Mather tries to plan around tailwinds, but it doesn’t often work out, and that’s find with her
Viki Mather experienced her share of rainy weather during a canoe trip in the Killarney area. (Viki Mather)

It’s all about the weather. Mostly, I try to plan our canoe trips so the wind will be at our backs. 

Still, I know that the wiles of weather are indifferent to my plans. It’s easy to know which direction we will travel each morning by looking at the wind. Likely, it is going to be in our face.

At home, I pour over planning maps as the rain pours on the roof. I think I’m lucky not to be in the tent. The wind howls in the trees, and I think I’m lucky to not be in the canoe. 

Finally, one sunny day with gentle winds, we venture out. The wilderness calls; the pure blue waters of Georgian Bay, the LaCloche Mountains as a backdrop, the glacial polished bedrock of the islands just south of Killarney Provincial Park. Beauty everywhere. 

The first afternoon the gentle breeze encourages us to go west. The heat of the sun inspires a swim and the warmth of the smooth rock seeps into our bodies as we lie on the shore. Bliss.

The second day, the wind noticed where we were headed and gently cooled our faces while the morning sun warmed our backs. We turned a bit to the south after lunch because the map said there’s a high beach on Badgeley Island. We pushed our little craft into the high wind for half an hour and made it to some little islands to the east of Badgeley.  

We took a break in the lee between the islands, then decided to give it another try. It was only four kilometers to the point of land that would shelter us from the wind. Alas, it was not to be. Our little canoe rode up each wave then down to crash into the next. The high beach would have to wait.

For a little while, we had a wicked tailwind. The canoe raced through the water, still rising over each wave and crashing into the next. When we rounded the north end of Badgeley, there was no wind at all. Only the sun pouring down on calm waters. We found a lovely campsite tucked onto the cedars on Lansdowne Channel.

Day three started again with the warmth of the sun and a gentle breeze. It lulled us into a slow exploration of the shores of Badgeley Ridge. At Creak Island, I was ready to spend an hour on the cobble beach looking for pretty rocks and enjoying a leisurely lunch. Allan was looking at the sky.

We paddled quickly through Hole in the Wall, then hugged the shore as dark clouds filled the sky. Thunder followed. Gibson Point offered shelter so we pulled the canoe up to the rough shore to unload. The rain shower caught us while we put up the tarp.

But it did not last long. We had the leisurely lunch, ate blueberries and blackberries, then continued along the shore.

The long-term forecast promised wind and rain and thundershowers, followed by more wind. We found a beautiful campsite on Fraser Bay, where we stayed for four nights. We hiked between showers, lay in the tent at night listening to the thunder roar and to huge waves crashing on the shore. 

I feel tremendously lucky to be camping, canoeing, loving life in the wilds.

Viki Mather has been commenting for Northern Life on the natural world and life in Greater Sudbury since the spring of 1984. Got a question or idea for Viki? Send an email to