blakeney rapids

Yesterday, we decided to get out of the house after kicking around here due to the recent rains. After seeing how high the water levels were at Black Creek on November 4th, we were sure that the Mississippi River would be running high at Blakeney Rapids. As expected, we arrived to find it at levels that seemed close to what we might see during the spring thaw.

I should probably mention that this Mississippi River lies in eastern Ontario and has nothing to do with that “other” Mississippi flowing to the south. Our Mississippi flows eastward through the Canadian Shield, from the region around Bon Echo Park and Mazinaw Lake, through a series of lakes, and occasionally through tight granite gorges, and finally to its confluence with the Ottawa River. Blakeney Rapids are located in the last leg of the river’s journey.

Choosing a couple of respresentative photos was a little difficult as the rapids are quite long and varied. At the top end, the river is wide but shallow, with many large, exposed rocks creating dozens of churning whitecaps and eddies. Then, the river splits apart into a series of channels that braid through ragged-edged granite “islands” topped with conifers. One large section of the river leaves the wilder main course, looping around to rejoin just below the rapids, while another smaller section breaks away to form a fast-moving creek traversed by several footbridges, before re-entering at the most turbulent point. Due to its “fractured” nature, it’s not possible to convey much other than some snapshots of how the river looks from various vantage points. I chose a couple of favourites from among yesterday’s photos. I’ve also made a brief .mp4 movie clip (1.4mb) of my favourite section of the rapids where three sections meet and then split apart again, with one part of the flow going to the “top” of the scene, while the main flow continues to the left (out of the left frame of the clip). I panned my camera from the downstream to the upstream of this section to capture this scene. I believe it gives some impression of the geology and the character of this place. I should mention that there is a park and canoe portage route on the west side of the river. That’s where I stood to shoot my photos and footage. The park is forested mainly with Hemlock, White Pine and Eastern White Cedar, along with some oak and maple. Beneath the shelter of the forest are many large, rugged outcroppings of lichen-covered granite. To me, this place captures the “feel” of the ancient wildness of the forests, geology and rivers of the Canadian Shield.

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7 Responses to “blakeney rapids”

  1. Peter Says:

    Beautiful area. I recall watching a documentary on the river sometime during the summer, it may have been one of the “Canadian Lakes” series or Canadian Geographic series.

    It has a long history, played an important role for the early settlers and also with the ecology all along the river.

    You mentioned Bon Echo… I had originaly planned to spend a few weeks there in the summer until fate took me to the maritimes. I think I would have enjoyed it, but the alternatives here didn’t dissapoint me!

  2. robin andrea Says:

    Your photos and movie clip do convey the character of the place. It looks so completely different from how I imagine Ontario. For some reason I imagined rivers flowing gently through very lush and green meadows, and none of these tree-covered granite rocks. There is really nothing like the sound of river rapids. Beautiful.

  3. burning silo Says:

    Peter – Actually, there are many parts of Nova Scotia that remind me so much of the terrain and rivers up on the Shield. For example, Kejimkujik (the main park in the interior) reminds me quite a lot of the Charleston Lake P.P. area… also Algonquin Park too. By the way, have you ever been up to the Barron River Canyon that runs through the east side of Algonquin? It is such and awesome place. I should try to dig up some photos to post sometime.

    Robin – There are parts of Ontario that do have the kind of rivers you’re thinking of, but a large part of the province has very rugged terrain with a lot of whitewater. There are also, quite literally, thousands of lakes up here. We had a friend visiting from California a couple of summers ago, and he was amazed at how we seemed to come to a lake around every turn in the road once we were up on the Shield. That’s one of the things I love about this part of the country and up into the north – the incredible lakes and rivers. It’s some of the best country I know of for anyone who likes paddling.

  4. Dave Says:

    I love that Canadian Shield look! I’d move up there in a heartbeat if it weren’t for my aversion to black flies and mosquitoes.

  5. burning silo Says:

    Dave – Ah, yes, the black flies and mosquitoes. That’s part of a secret strategy for keeping the human population under control up here in the north country! ;-)

  6. KerrdeLune (Cate) Says:

    The little Canadian Mississippi is one of my favourite tributaries (along with the Tay and the Clyde rivers), a confluence of rocks, pines and clear cold water – all those little hidden waterfalls tucked into surprising places. Thank you for this one, Bev, it is good to be on the Mississippi this morning, and I can almost hear the water tumbling.

  7. burning silo Says:

    Cate – I have a few favourite spots along the Mississippi. Blakeney Rapids is one, and the rapids at Playfairville. Also, Ragged Chutes, which I’ve hiked down to on nature walks organized by the MVCA. We’ve also been to a number of sites upriver of there and paddled some sections. Don’t know if we’ll ever paddle the whole thing from top to bottom, but you never know!