SK Historic Canoe Route 41
Missi Island Loop on Amisk Lake
Length of Trip: 48 kilometres (30 miles)
Time Required to Complete Trip: 2 to 3 days
Number of Portages: No Portages (Unless optional side trips are undertaken, or the use of optional portage number 1 is needed)
Water levels and canoeing conditions on many Saskatchewan rivers and lakes vary from time to time, causing changes in the appearance of the various landmarks described in this booklet, as well as causing hazards not described herein. It is the canoeist's responsibility to proceed with caution and alertness, using discretion and good judgement at all times. The information in this booklet is intended to be of general assistance only, and the Government of Saskatchewan assumes no responsibility for its use. Canoeists are reminded that they travel at their own risk at all times.
Access to Starting Point:
The starting, and ending, point for this loop trip is the northern community of Denare Beach. Denare Beach is located 18 kilometres (11 1/4 mile) southwest of Creighton, Saskatchewan on highway 167 (Paved).
NOTE: It is not advisable to leave vehicles unsupervised for any length of time at any northern campground. Arrangements for safe parking of vehicles should be made with private tourist camp, marina or motel operators.
63-L/9 Denare Beach and 63-L/16 Annabel Lake (Optional - only required if Grassy Lake side trip is taken)
About the Trip:
This is a short easy trip suitable for the less experienced canoeist. The route circles Missi Island, which means 'Big Island' in the Cree Indian language. There are no rapids and no required portages. The only real hazards are the likelihood of big waves on the exposed portion of the trip if a strong southerly wind comes up, and the chance of becoming temporarily disoriented among the many small islands and reefs encountered along the route. Close attention to map and compass is strongly recommended in navigating this island and reef strewn canoe route.
This loop trip may be made in either a clockwise, or a counter clockwise direction. Generally speaking, if the weather is good at the start of the trip, travel in a clockwise direction is recommended so as to complete the exposed portion of the trip along the south and southwest parts of Missi Island under good weather conditions.
This trip can easily be extended to last four to five, or more, days by making leisurely and interesting side trips up Neagle Creek, and into Grassy and Wolverine Lakes.
It should be noted that the side trips described here are not the only ones possible. A close look at the recommended maps will point to a number of other possibilities.
The entire Missi Island area has been, and still is, of great interest to prospectors and mining men. This trip takes the canoeist past the site of the Old Prince Albert (Monarch) mine where an old shaft and considerable rusting machinery can be seen.
Fishing is good throughout this trip. Opportunities to see wildlife, especially waterfowl and beaver, are excellent, particularly if the suggested side trips are made.
Attractive natural campsites abound throughout the route.
Denare Beach is an attractive resort settlement with a general store, restaurant, motel and private resort operators. There is a large public beach and campgrounds operated by the Saskatchewan Government. From Denare Beach, there is radio and telephone communication and road access via highway 167 (paved). An interesting local museum is also located near the beach.
The Canoe Trip:
Starting from the dock near the north end of the beach (Grid location 881619 - Map 63-L/9), or from the fish plant located south of the beach (Grid location 878597 - Map 63-L/9), canoeists should work their way in a generally westerly direction through the islands of East Channel towards Crater Island and Missi Bay.
Canoeists will encounter white arrow signs, reading 'To Beach', at conspicuous locations along the route. These signs can be helpful on the return portion of the trip to direct canoe parties back to Denare Beach.
Particular attention should be paid to map and compass, particularly in the portion of the trip along the south of Missi Island, as it is easy to become confused among the many small islands and reefs.
An optional portage trail links the northwest end of Missi Bay with a small bay extending southeast off of West Channel. If the weather turns bad, big waves can be avoided on the more exposed part of this trip by making this portage. Its location is described from both ends so that it can be located during bad weather by canoe parties travelling in either direction along the route.
Portage Number 1 (Optional):
Connecting Missi Bay with a bay extending southeast off of West Channel. About 800 metres (875 yards) long and in fair condition, but wet in spots.
From the northwest end of Missi Bay, this portage starts back of an old drill camp with the remains of an old dock and core shacks (Grid location 765610 - Map 63-L/9). The trail is actually an old winter road for most of its length.
From the West Channel side, this portage starts from a cove on the east shore of the bay extending southeast from West Channel. The start of the trail shows as a break in the shoreline alders at approximately the narrowest part of the neck of the southwest peninsula of Missi Island (Grid location 757608 - Map 63-L/9).
Along the west shore of West Channel there is an interesting side trip possibility up Neagle Creek. To go up Neagle Creek enter the narrows east of a cottage (Grid location 725632 - Map 63-L/9) and paddle against a moderate current for about one kilometre (2/3 mile). At this point the creek opens out into an extensive, cat-tail lined marshy area where there are many beaver, muskrats and waterfowl. Fishing is good in the main channel and there are a few rocky camping sites.
The more adventurous canoeist may explore upstream, hauling canoes over beaver dams, to a point where Neagle Creek becomes a rocky little stream. A 410 metre (448 yard) portage starting on the north side at the base of the rocky part of the stream ends in quiet waters above the small rapids (Grid location 687649 - Map 63-L/9).
Canoeists paddling northeast up West Channel soon come to the site of the old Prince Albert (Monarch) mine. This is located on the west side at the narrow part of West Channel near the base of the south-pointing peninsula (Near grid location 758668 - Map 63-L/9). There are remains of an old stucco and log building visible from the water, and a large pile of tailings at the water's edge. Further up the slope there are several water-filled shafts, a core shack and rusting heavy machinery.
At this mine, native gold is reported to occur in visible specks, or blebs, in white quartz and also in yellowish mica in cracks in the quartz. There are also tiny crystals of pyrite and arsenopyrite.
This mine was discovered by Dan and Tom Creighton, Leon Dion and John Mosher in 1913. It was the first gold found in the Amisk Lake district. The first inclined shaft was sunk to 20 metres (66 feet) in 1914. In 1936 the Monarch Gold Mine syndicate deepened the shaft and installed a 26,000 kilogram (28.6 ton) per day mill. From 1937 to 1942, 140 kilograms (4,928 ounces) of gold and 23 kilograms (810 ounces) of silver were produced. The mine closed in 1945.
At the north end of Missi Island, where West Channel meets North Channel, an interesting side trip into Grassy Lake is possible. The narrow, weed-filled waterway leading to Grassy Lake (Grid location 780708 - Map 63-L/16) is bounded on the west by impressive block faulting in the cliffs above the stream
Upon reaching Grassy Lake there is a suitable rocky campsite on the northwest shore. The lake itself is filled with waterlilies and is a good place to observe ducks, beaver and muskrats. There are many signs of prospecting activity such as trenching, signs of blasting, etc. between the camping area and the high cliffs to the north.
After a possible side trip to Grassy Lake, the canoe trip continues down North Channel in a southeasterly direction. Canoeists may proceed directly back to Denare Beach or make another side trip to Wolverine Lake which is located to the northeast of Comeback Bay.
To reach Wolverine Lake paddle into the narrow inlet on the northeast shore of Comeback Bay (Grid location 859674 - Map 63-L/9) and to the base of the inflowing stream which enters the narrow inlet near its north end. There is a short 80 metre (87 yard) portage which starts on the east side of this stream (Grid location 861693 - Map 63-L/9) and leads to Wolverine Lake.
On the east shore of Comeback Bay, about one kilometre (2/3 mile) southeast of the inlet leading to the Wolverine Lake portage, there is an old mine adit (inclined shaft). Its exact location is marked by an unnatural pile of brownish rock and dirt sloping down to the water's edge (Near grid location 865668 - Map 63-L/9). The mine entrance can be explored for only four to five metres (yards) before water fills the shaft.
From this point canoe parties should continue in a southeast and south direction along the east shore of the lake until they reach Denare Beach and the end point of this trip.
WRITTEN BY: Original script by Peter Gregg, reviewed in 1992 by Historic Trails Canoe Club.