Ouimet Canyon, Rossport and a Bird Survey: June 2021

The “Wolf Lake 2” survey which begins about 90 minutes west of Nipigon always makes me a little nervous. The last 25 kms or so to the starting point is on a very rutted road which can have lots of water on it. And this is driven in almost total darkenss.

Fortunately it has been very dry here but I was very careful with the numerous pot holes.

Here are some scenes from the survey:

Snowshoe Hare
Tiger Swallowtails
Common Merganser (female)
Common Merganser (female)
American Toad juvenile
Cliff Swallows
Cliff Swallows
Cliff Swallows
Cliff Swallows
Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
Low Sweet Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

The most interesting birds for me were a Golden-winged Warbler:

Golden-winged warbler (photo: Audubon Field Guide)

and at least a dozen drumming Ruffed Grouse.


If you can identify this orchid which was growing near the canyon, please let me know. Thank-you

The survey ends very near Ouimet Canyon so I always visit and walk on the 1 kilometre circular trail which affords good views of the canyon. Members of the Group of Seven used to have the train stop south of here so that they could hike into the canyon to sketch and paint.

Canyon floor
Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)
Bluebead-lily (Clintonia borealis)
Bluebead-lily (Clintonia borealis)
Mountain Maple (Acer spicata)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

I have a friend who taught in a one room school house in the remote community of Rossport which is on Lake Superior. I stopped by to have a look.

Rossport United Church
Rossport Catholic Church

I’ve finished the Edison audio book and now now begun the autobiography of Neil Young.


Hi Miles
I am forwarding this email to you sent to  me by Nicola Ross.  I have not met her but she is an avid hiker and adventurer.  I have all six of her hiking books.  When things open up more I would like to venture out on some of her loops and lattes offerings.  
What impressed me about this particular email is her kayak trip description.  I appreciate the sense of peace and tranquil  “alone” time she had but at the same time feel tension at the “creature” adventure(s) she had–most notably the bear!
Keep well and I hope you enjoy.
Thanks again for your daily posts–they give me endless enjoyment!

Bears, Beavers & Bountiful WildlifeI’m nursing an injuried knee so a kayak is my link to nature these days. On Sunday, I paddled up the Wosleley River, a tributary to the mighty French. The Wolseley is a long, but smallish river that can’t quite decide if it wants to be a lake or a meandering stream. Therefore it’s both of these things many time over. I’ve paddled a section of it at least 100 times and know it intimately — at least I thought I did.

On Sunday, I came across what has been a deserted beaver lodge for as long as I can remember. But on this morning, it was full of life, a good 15 to 20 feet tall and 30 to 40 across. If I had any doubt that it was now active, that notion ended with the loud slap of a beaver’s tail.

Seconds later, I looked ahead (upstream as it has little current) and saw a long black creature swimming across the river. A bear. The second I’ve ever seen on the river. As I watched it make shore, my attention was drawn away by a pair of otters that popped up on either side of me, hissing as they do. I like to think they were warning me to beware the bear.

Paddling on, I came to the big old beaver dam and discovered it had been breached. Good for me, as I didn’t have to get out of my kayak, and, as it seems, good for the beavers living in the huge lodge I’d just passed. It was in the water as a result of the breached dam.

On I paddled totally alone in the early morning light. I startled several ducks, watched a couple of great blue herons take flight and saw the first of at least a dozen painted turtles sunning themselves in the morning light.

After stopping to enjoy my thermos of hot coffee and breakfast gorp, which is a lot like snacking gorp, I continued on my way. This is when I noticed the calling of several cows. Then I thought: “Cows? On the granite and among the white, red and jack pines?” Not cows, of course. Likely moose, though I never saw them.

I watched a family of Canada geese waddle away into the forest, which was a first for me, and then I arrived at a second, smaller beaver dam. I’d been travelling for almost three hours by this time. It’s tricky getting out of a kayak onto a beaver dam, but I managed to do so without mishap. Then it was back to the meandering-stream Wolseley River. I’d left the lake Wolseley River behind. Huge white and red pines, oaks and populars closed in around me. From places where the river was a half kilometre or more across, to this, a 12-foot-wide stream. 

Ten minutes later, I came to a collection of fallen logs that totally barred my passage. I could have gotten out and pulled over them, but I knew that in the low water conditions, this would be the first of dozens of similar obstacles so I grudgingly decided to turn back. It was about 9:30am.

Silently cursing having to end my run up the river, I came around a corner and there, not 10 feet away was an enormous black bear making his way along the shore. One paw in the water. When he heard me, he leapt up the bank, turned around and all 6 or 8 or 10 feet of him stood up.

He stared me directly in the eye and it finally registered: bear, bear, it’s a bear. What do I do?

Don’t look a bear in the eye. Look down. So I did.

Then I slowly paddled my kayak quietly backwards up the river, around the corner and out of sight. 

Next thing I knew, I could hear him take off into the woods. Closer encounter avoided. My hands were shaking so badly I could hardly paddle. I’m not sure if it was fear or excitement — likely some of both that had the adrenalin coursing through my veins.

Oh what a beauty he was.

Check out my latest blog post
“Textures of the Bruce Peninsula”
at What’s Not to Hike.

Blog: www.nicolaross.ca

Website:  www.loopsandlattes.com


O fields in June’s fair verdure drest,
And vocal now with birds and bees!    – Henry Stevenson Washburn (1813–1903)

Miles Hearn

8 thoughts on “Ouimet Canyon, Rossport and a Bird Survey: June 2021

  1. Catherine Gautry

    Thank you for the spectacular pictures of the canyon! Your posts are always very much appreciated:-) Be safe with all this driving you’re doing right now.

  2. Lisa Volkov

    Stupendous vistas. Absolutely remarkable! Again, I am totally knocked out I sure wish I was there!
    Outstanding. Absolutely remarkable. I need a bloody Thesaurus, here. I am totally uplifted, transcendentally transported, by the sight if this.
    Someday, if it’s ever possible, I have to do that Algoma train, at least. I forget what it’s called–that valley–it will come to me, or I can look it up–oh yes, and Agawa Canyon experience (I hope I spelled it right)
    Meanwhile–thank you so much for this for THIS incredible vicarious experience, Miles!
    And yes, of course– the rest of the pictures are beautiful, precious and delightful!
    But I am not going to pretend that I am not in ecstasy over this aspect of it, being the aficionado, the connoisseur, of landscapes, scenery, and far horizons that I am. This speaks, inspirationally and keenly, to my very soul. (And no, I didn’t use a thesaurus for these words, but yes, in the case of two of them, I had to consult the dictionary–“aficionado” and “connoisseur”. Easier for someone who knows French, I suppose!)
    In any case, words are inadequate. I wanted to weep at the sight of these sites. And I sure I am glad you didn’t have an accident getting there–for your sake, not just so you can bring us the scenes!

  3. Lisa Volkov

    “I sure am glad”, I mean! I was so overcome by this that I stumbled somewhat in the execution of my comment!

  4. Muriel Steeb

    A WONDERFUL armchair excursion.
    Pure magic!!
    Thank you Miles for making Covid, more bearable!!!
    In a word….EXQUISITE!


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