The Musical Canoe

It’s the quintessential Canadian experience: Paddling a replica of a 36-foot voyageur canoe along the historic fur trade route with a folk singing icon. We call it the Musical Tour—a fully guided four-day wilderness canoe trip from the quaint village of Rossport along the undeveloped island archipelago of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area to the Live from the Rock Folk and Blues Festival in the lakeside town of Red Rock. En route you’ll experience the life of a voyageur—with the benefits of tasty homecooked cuisine and live entertainment.

The voyageurs were the long-distance truck drivers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Each spring, brigades of canoemen plied a watery route from Montreal to Thunder Bay, hauling trade goods like beads, ammunition and tools west. At the same time, canoeists departed the fur trading posts of the Canadian interior loaded with furs, bound for the Great Lakes. An exchange (and wild party) took place in early July, and then the canoes returned—bringing trade goods to the interior and furs to be shipped to Europe from Montreal. The voyageurs were a notoriously hardy breed, paddling 18-hour days, subsisting on slim rations of lard and beans, and sleeping in the scant shelter of an overturned birchbark canoe.

You’ll catch a glimpse of this hardscrabble existence on our trip—albeit with shorter days on the water, a less repetitive menu, and the comfort of your own tent (although you may choose to sleep under the canoe should you desire). We’ll camp on the same cobblestone beaches and experience the sweeping open horizons and big waters of Lake Superior. Instead of being regaled by the French Canadian chansons of the voyageurs, you’ll hear the inspired music of Canadian singer-songwriters. Past musical guests include Rodney Brown, Katherine Wheatley and Dave Borins.

In 2013 we welcomed back Lake Superior native Ian Tamblyn, whose songs like “Woodsmoke and Oranges”, “Black Spruce” and “Campfire Light” capture the joys of travelling by canoe on the wild coastline of an inland sea.