Canoeing the Caddy Lake Tunnels in Whiteshell Provincial Park
Until recently I’d never heard of the Caddy Lake Tunnels, let alone the fact that there is a 169 km (105 mile) round-trip canoe loop that starts on Caddy Lake in eastern Manitoba. For those of you short on time, the tunnels can be canoed as part of a day trip from Winnipeg.
The tunnels are located in Whiteshell Provincial Park, near the Manitoba – Ontario border. They were blasted through solid granite rock when the railways were built, somewhere around the turn of the twentieth century.
There are two tunnels, about three miles apart. I have been told that in some years when the water levels are really high, especially in the second tunnel, you have to portage the canoe or be prepared to lean way back and pull yourself along the tunnels with your hands. Fortunately, this past weekend, we had lots of head-space.
We rented a canoe for the day from Green Bay Resort, located right on Caddy Lake. The beauty of this is you leave right from their beach.
After our recent canoeing trip in the Northwest Territories, where we were buffeted by waves on a couple of the days, I figured this paddling would be a piece of cake. WRONG. The wind was blowing really hard and we had a lightweight aluminum canoe that was very hard to control. Crossing Caddy Lake on the way out turned out to be the toughest part of the whole day.
Canoeing down Caddy Lake – in the only calm section of the lake
The approach to the first of the Caddy Lake tunnels in Whiteshell Provincial Park
The first of the Caddy Lake tunnels
Coming through the tunnels
Paddling into South Cross Lake
You’re in Canadian Shield country with all of its lovely red/pink/white granite
After crossing Caddy Lake, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue if the winds were going to keep blowing. But once you reach South Cross Lake, there are lots of little headlands you can duck in behind so the paddling is way easier. This is also where you’ll find some campsites – available on a first come, first served basis. Some are probably heavily used, but all that we saw were very pretty.
Paddling towards the second set of tunnels
Heading through the second tunnel
The suggested paddling time to reach the second tunnel is three hours. We did it in about 2 ½ hours, even with the wind. At our turn around point, just after we got through the second tunnel, we both wished we had more time to explore further. North Cross Lake is reportedly a beautiful lake – and the swimming is excellent.
Our lunch spot – looking towards the entrance to North Cross Lake
I was a little antsy about our return paddle as I figured the wind would be in our face and it would take three plus hours to get back (and we had a flight to catch and some photo ID that John had forgotten at the previous B&B to pick up). Fortunately the wind died down to almost nothing, but we did get caught in a downpour for about 45 minutes. Still, I’d take the rain over the wind any day.
Over the course of our paddle we saw one muskrat, a turtle, numerous loons and many different types of ducks. Bugs were non-existent.
This is what the second tunnel looks like on the return to South Cross Lake
Looking towards South Cross Lake from the second tunnel
Heading back into Caddy Lake
Amazing skies over Caddy Lake after the rainstorm
We were back on the beach in two hours, so I guess all the paddling we’ve done this summer has paid dividends.
This is a great day’s outing and perfect for families as well. If you’re not rushed for time, you could certainly paddle further than we did – providing you have the canoe back by 6 PM when the canoe rental part of Green Bay Resorts closes.
Where to stay near Caddy Lake
On a side note, I’d like to recommend a stay at The Firefly B&B, just a few kilometers away from Rennie, and about 30 minutes from Caddy Lake. Your hosts, Doug and Patti, are some of the friendliest people you’re ever likely to meet. John and I were invited to join them for dinner on the deck – homemade thin crust pizza and a peach cobbler dessert. Their excuse was that they had a new outdoor pizza oven to try. The next morning we were also treated to fresh bagels from the pizza oven. I didn’t want to leave.
The view from the deck at The Firefly B&B near Rennie, Manitoba
Peach cobbler out of the pizza oven
The Caddy Lake area of Whiteshell Provincial Park is well worth a visit. I loved the landscape and would happily return for a longer trip. I can also recommend the cross-country skiing in the park. About 18 months ago John and I had a superb day of skiing here.
Have you visited Whiteshell Provincial Park?
A big thank you to Travel Manitoba for help with some of this trip.
Vote for my article on WorldTravelist.com, sharing the best travel content on the web.