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Book Review: Kevin Callan's Top 70 Canoe Routes of Ontario

There are days when I’d love to be out in my canoe, exploring somewhere I’ve never been before, but for whatever reason I’m unable.  On days like that I like to either go though photos from past trips, look at maps, or best yet, get ideas for new places to go and canoes routes to explore.

I live in Ontario, a province with more lakes, rivers and canoe routes that I can hope to see in my lifetime (but I’m trying)!  Thankfully I have just the book, a bible of sorts really, that both inspires me and gets my imagination going; a book that anyone who paddles and lives in Ontario or visits the province should have: Kevin Callan’s “Top 70 Canoe Routes of Ontario”.

Top 70 Canoe Routes Of Ontario

What Kevin has put together is so impressive.  When you first hear the title of the book, you might think it rather dry; some kind of reference that you use’d use a few times before a trip, but generally sits on a shelf gathering dust.  This book is about as dry as the bottom of my canoe going though Class Three rapids!

Don’t get me wrong - there are important facts and figures in this book; maps, photos, portages, and more, but it’s the narrative and personal observations that make it different.

Each route has its own story, and Kevin takes you along with him as he recounts a trip along the route, introducing you to the people he traveled with or met along the way, and the unique features, geography and wildlife encountered.

Kevin has such an easy going style of writing that you can find yourself drawn into and fully absorbed in his retelling of adventures and encounters before you even realize it.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve picked up this book to look up one route, then find myself enthralled by another, then another, revelling in the rich descriptive text and snickering at the humour!  Watching videos on YouTube can be fun, but this book engages you in ways that video can’t touch.

For each of the 70 routes covered in the book, Kevin provides all you need to feed your imagination and to start planning a trip:

  • Time required for the trip in days
  • Length of the trip in kilometres
  • Number of portages required and the length of each
  • Maps with the route, portages, landmarks, cautions, and geographic information
  • A quick, one sentence summary of the trip
  • Fees
  • Parking
  • GPS Coordinates,
  • And more and more!

There are trips for everyone in this book, from novices with no tripping experience, to those with moderate experience, to those comfortable running whitewater.  Every area of the province is covered too, from the Northwestern side to the Near North, to Southern Ontario and the East.  As Kevin himself says: “It doesn’t really matter where you go; it just matters that you go”.

There are few people who could put together a book like this, one that entertains the soul, educates the mind and excites the imagination; for paddlers and canoe trippers, there’s just one - Kevin Callan!