Canoe Lake, The Massasauga, May 2014


It was a long, cold, cold, cold winter but the 2014 canoeing season had finally arrived! The Victoria Day long weekend (“May 2-4” as the Canadians refer to it) has traditionally been our first canoe trip of the “summer.”  This year it would also be Tucker’s first canoe trip ever, and we decided to go to The Massasauga Provincial Park. We booked our site last minute and ended up on a lake we hadn’t been to before: Canoe Lake, an easy 540 meter portage from Spider Lake. Since we didn’t know how Tucker would take to the canoe, we thought that the less paddling we had to contend with the better. It was an adrenaline-filled paddle from the access point across Three Legged Lake to the 370 meter portage into the Provincial Park.  We started off paddling as close to shore as possible while Tucker explored his boundaries in the canoe. This required Mike to keep a constant hold on him while Marella paddled, heart racing, in the front.  Mike repeatedly told Tucker to keep “all four paws in the boat,” and finally gave him a rawhide bone to distract him from the water.  Of course, the first thing Tucker did was toss his bone into the water,

and he watched helplessly, rocking the boat this way and that, as we turned the canoe around to retrieve it. Once he was settled a bit and chewing on the bone, we paddled as fast as our out-of-shape arms could to the first portage. We’ve rarely been so happy to see a portage! The paddle north across Spider Lake was no less exciting, though the remainder of the rawhide offered some distraction. The portage to Canoe Lake was easy and Tucker waded in the water when we reached the end. To our relief, Site #103, which we reserved for both nights, was a relatively short paddle from the portage and we made it safely to camp with Tucker and all of our gear dry and still in the canoe. Whew!

Not surprisingly, due to the long, cold (did we mention cold?) winter, spring was getting a late start in Ontario. In fact, park openings were delayed several weeks due to residual ice on the lakes. The trees were just barely starting to get leaves, so the forest looked quite different from what we were used to seeing from the canoe. Luckily, although the weather for the entire weekend was windy and quite cool, there was plenty of sunshine. We spent the weekend watching Tucker literally race around as he discovered the forest and its critters and the water and its birds. He had more sticks to chew on than he ever imagined possible and was basically in heaven. He insisted on sleeping between us in the tent, but quickly learned that the tent was for sleeping, and he would have preferred to take his naps there, too. He never quite swam, and he was hesitant when fetching sticks from the water, testing each step before he fully committed. This made us a bit more confident that he wouldn’t really jump out of the canoe.

The trip back to the car was only slightly less nerve-racking, but we were comfortable enough to snap a few pictures of Tucker in the canoe. He even slept a bit in the bottom of the boat. We arrived at the access point without mishap and as soon as we put Tucker in the car, he fell asleep and stayed that way all the way back to Toronto. He’s going to be an outdoors loving dog, that is no doubt!