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Canoeing in Canada: Don’t Miss a Trip to Kejimkujik NP

If you want to go canoeing in Canada, one place that is little known outside of Nova Scotia is Kejimkujik National Park in the southwestern part of the province.

And since its National Canoe Day on June 26th I thought it was an appropriate time to fill you in on the area now that I’ve paddled some of it.

Kejimkujik is best explored by canoe or kayak. There are hiking trails but they’re heavily wooded and don’t have nearly the same appeal for me as exploring the waterways.

"Jakes Landing"

Jakes Landing is the put in for canoe trips for most people in Kejimkujik

"Looking the other way down the Mersey River from Jake's Landing"

Looking the other way down the Mersey River from Jake’s Landing

If you’re new to canoeing or kayaking then starting with an easy paddle on the Mersey River is the way to go. Work on your strokes and then head for the bigger water. It’s easy to rent canoes and kayaks for just an hour or two at the dock at Jake’s Landing from Whynot Adventure (though longer term options are also available.)

I spent about an hour and a half paddling and poking about in a kayak on the Mersey River last weekend. It felt more like I was paddling in a swamp in southern Georgia – minus the Spanish moss and alligators.

The Mersey River was a major transportation route for the Mi’Kmaq people for centuries. They’d head to the coast every summer where the river empties and spend the summer fishing and collecting seafood. When you paddle the river you can’t help but wonder about all the people who came before you.

"Sign with recent wildlife sightings"

Recent wildlife sightings

"Kayaking the Mersey River"

Starting off in my kayak and heading under the bridge

"Beautiful reflection in the morning on the river"

Beautiful reflection in the morning on the river

"yellow water lily"

There are loads of water lilies around

"kayaking the Mersey River"

There’s no current to speak of early on in the paddle

Every year the Mersey River floods – and that flooding feeds a landscape filled with blue-joint grass, red maples and speckled alders. If you’re lucky you might see a white-tailed deer browsing in the maples – or catch some turtles sunning on a log.

The woman in the photo below unprompted stated that the Mersey River is her favourite place on the planet.

"A family paddling the calm waters of the Mersey River"

A family paddling the calm waters of the Mersey River

If you’re more into excitement and waves, big water and wind then head with your canoe for Kejimkujik Lake.

It’s huge!! And it’s shallow so whitecaps can form quickly making it a treacherous place to be when the wind picks up.

The lake is dotted with islands – many of which boast campsites that can be reserved months in advance. In fact there are 46 backcountry campsites scattered along canoe routes and on hiking trails. Each campsite has a picnic table, a pit privy, two tent pads, firewood (bring an axe though) and a food storage set-up of some sort.

There is a lot more to paddle than just Kejimkujik Lake. It’s really a paddlers dream area Cody Whynot enthusiastically tells me – with all lakes and rivers linked with portages to that it’s possible to create circuits that could take you many weeks if you were so inclined. That type of trip would include waters that make up part of the Tobeatic Wilderness Area – an area with over 1,000 square kilometres.

After reading the delightful book that has made me smile and chuckle over and over again despite my lack of interest in fishing – The Tent Dwellers: Sports Fishing in Nova Scotia in 1908 by Albert Bigelow Paine – you might just want to set out on a longer canoe trip.

"Sandy beaches on Lake Kejimikujik"

Sandy beaches on Lake Kejimkujik

"Some of the lakeshore can be accessed via hiking trails"

Some of the lakeshore can be accessed via hiking trails

"Island in Kejimikujik Lake"

One of the many small windswept islands

"Paddling out of the wind"

Paddling out of the wind

"Beautiful rocky beach"

"There were plenty of places to land and stretch ones' legs"

There were plenty of places to land and stretch ones’ legs

"poking about in a kayak"

"Loved the windswept look to some of the islands"

Loved the windswept trees seen on some of the islands

Have you ever canoed in Kejimkujik National Park?

Other posts related to my Nova Scotia trip you might like:

Leigh McAdam


Please note: Cody at Whynot Adventure kindly comped me a kayak for the few days I was in the area to explore. I did however do all the exploring at my own pace and by myself. The kayak was a fun little thing to paddle – maneuverable and steady but not really designed for more than day trips. Rent a canoe if you want to spend more time exploring.

Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

More posts by Leigh

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • Andrew Graeme Gould says:

    What a beautiful destination. It looks so tranquil.

  • I have never canoed in Kejimkujik National Park but I have heard of it. It looks like such a beautiful, peaceful place to paddle and I love the water lilies! You seem to be having an incredibly adventurous summer so far! I hope all is well at your home in Calgary too.

    • @Lisa The Mersey River would definitely be right up your alley. I am having an extremely adventurous summer so far – all in the name of research for my book. We were high and dry in the flood but 5 days without power as just 2 blocks away was underwater.

  • Salika Jay says:

    Kejimkujik National Park canoe route looks absolutely beautiful. Looks very calm and quiet. Great photos, Leigh!

    • @Salika The Mersey River is very calm and quiet and absolutely lovely. The lake can send all kinds of waves ones way – but it’s very beautiful too — just a little wilder.

  • Muza-chan says:

    Beautiful place :)

  • Marcia says:

    Leigh, this is an absolutely beautiful place to visit. I’m surprised there weren’t more people. Maybe it was the time of day you were there.

  • Barry says:

    The Friends of Keji website has lots of info on hiking and canoeing distances in Keji. The Big Dam / Frozen Ocean loop is a good trip.

  • budget jan says:

    These photos are inviting. I can imagine myself at Jakes landing with the little bridge in the background. I have had a few camping trips in northern Australia where we have used canadian canoes for short distance trips, but I do not think I would be game to do so in Canada. I would be worried about falling into the cold water :)

  • I’d be very tempted to paddle here if I lived in Canada. It looks absolutely beautiful and suitable for a novice! There’s nothing more relaxing than paddling in the silence and taking in your surroundings. We often explore the bays near us on Rottnest Island by paddle board, sometimes trailing a fishing line behind us!

  • Reminds me of canoeing in Quetico. Pretty sweet that they have 46 camping sites and access to even longer trips.

  • Danielle says:

    I remember when I was a teenager, my best friend and I decided to do a backcountry/canoeing trip to Moose Island at Keji. With little experience we took off with her Dad’s canoe tied to the car! We paddled out and spent one night on Moose Island before deciding to head back to camp on the ‘mainland’ the next day due to high winds. There were 2-3 foot swells on the lake that afternoon- which made for an entertaining paddle back to shore! We were lucky we didn’t capsize. That trip is still one of my favourite memories.

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