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North Tea Lake, Algonquin Park (August, 2001)
Moose cow on Amable du Fond.
The 'magic' island.
This was my first ever canoe trip with a young child (3 years old). I chose the area for the sandy beaches. I thought playing in the sand would help keep him happy. We brought along a small pail and shovel and a few small toys. A colouring book and crayons were in the pack just in case of rain.
All in all the trip went really well. We spent 3 days on North Tea Lake. It was cloudy but no major rain. The little boy, Mathieu, was great in the canoe and around the campsite. He wasn't afraid of the dark forest at all and even went to bed early one night by himself. During the day he was always discovering some new treasure. Everything seemed magical to him.
His mother, Colette, loved her first canoe trip too. She had never been camping in Canada, only having been to cottage country a couple of times. So it was a thrill for me to see things through the eyes of someone who was seeing all this beauty for the first time. Not to mention the fact that she was incredible on portages! I was thoroughly impressed with the way she hauled more gear on portages than I have ever seen anyone carry. During the first portage, I had finished hauling the canoe over and was watching Mathieu when I saw Colette coming down the hill loaded down with a pack on her back, one on her chest, and a dry bag in each hand. I was expecting the usual canoeists complaints about the portage and the load. But to my pleasant surprise, when she got to the end of the portage, while still straining under the load of gear, she declared, "This is so beautiful!" For the remainder of the trip she kept commenting on how beautiful it all was and that was something I never tired of hearing.
Finally, special thanks go to the CanadianCanoeRoutes.com discussion forum for all the excellent advice on how to paddle with young children!