SK Historic Canoe Route 48
SOUTHEAST ARM, DESCHAMBAULT LAKE - PELICAN NARROWS - WUNEHIKUN BAY - ATTITTI LAKE - KAKINAGIMAK LAKE - NEMEI LAKE - NEMEI RIVER - SANDY BAY
Length of Trip: 190 kilometres
Time Required to Complete Trip: Five to six days
Number of Portages: 18
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 the presence of hazards not described herein. It is the canoeist's responsibility to proceed with caution and alertness, using discretion and good judgment 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 point for this trip is the Government of Saskatchewan campground located at the south end of Southeast Arm, Deschambault Lake. This campground is accessible by short northward access road from Mile 156 of the Hanson Lake Road, Highway 106. A nearby hunting and fishing lodge could, in all probability, provide a safe place for the parking of vehicles during a canoe trip.
Pelican Narrows is an alternate starting point for a shortened version of this trip (shortened by 65 kilometres). The community of Pelican Narrows is located on Highway 135, 51 kilometres north of its junction with Highway 106.
63L Amisk Lake and 63M Pelican Narrows.
About the Trip:
The first 65 kilometres of this pleasant canoe trip from the Southeast Arm of Deschambault Lake to the community of Pelican Narrows is an easy, relatively safe trip in itself, suitable for the less experienced canoeist. Much of the travel is along the narrow protected Southeast Arm of Deschambault Lake and the similarly protected South Arm of Pelican Lake. Portage locations are described from both ends as far as Attitti Lake for the assistance of canoeists who might wish to make part of the trip and then return to the starting point.
The remainder of the trip between Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay calls for much more portaging and navigational expertise. This part of the trip can only be recommended for canoeists of intermediate or advanced skills.
This trip offers excellent fishing opportunities below rapids and falls and at points where streams enter lakes. Attractive natural campsites are common along the entire route of travel.
The portion of this trip down the Nemei River is especially demanding. There are many portages some of which are quite difficult. The reward for this hard work is exposure to a beautiful wilderness river, where few individuals other than the occasional Indian trapper ever penetrate.
The end point of this trip is the community of Sandy Bay which lies 70 kilometres northeast of Pelican Narrows at the end of Highway 135. There are two general stores in Sandy Bay, a Saskatchewan government office, radio and radio-telephone services, but no motels or hotels.
The Canoe Trip:
From the campground near the south end of Southeast Arm, Deschambault Lake, travel north along the protected shores for about 16 kilometres. The canoe route then enters the more open part of Deschambault Lake. Travel in a northeast direction through beautiful island-studded waters towards McIntyre Island.
There is a choice of two short or one long portage to reach South Arm of Pelican Lake. Generally speaking, the two short portages are easier to make than the one long one.
These portages start from a small baylet about 6 kilometres north of the falls shown at the southeast corner of Deschambault Lake. The actual portage trails are shown on the older editions of map 63L, but not on the newer editions. Another description of the location of the baylet from which the portages start is that it is about 3 kilometres north-northeast of the north end of McIntyre Island and has a sharp angular bend in it extending to the southeast.
Portage No. 1: (double portage route to Pelican Lake)
Connecting the small baylet on the east shore of Deschambault Lake with a small pond to the east. Approximately 220 metres long and in good condition but steep in spots.
From the southeast shores of the small baylet this portage starts about 20 metres north of the outlet stream. There is an old pole ramp at this spot.
From the small pond approach, this portage starts at its southwest end at the north side of the inflowing stream.
Portage No. 2: (double portage route to Pelican Lake)
Connecting the small pond with the South Arm of Pelican Lake. Approximately 120 metres long and in good condition. At low water levels this portage trail is only about one-half the length listed and starts from a pole ramp used for the hauling of big boats.
From the north shore of the small pond this portage starts near the outlet on the east side at an inconspicuous break in the willows.
From the most westerly part of South Arm this portage starts at the south end 25 metres east of the inflowing stream.
Portage No. 1A: (alternate single portage route to Pelican Lake)
Connecting the small baylet on the east shore of Deschambault Lake with the South Arm of Pelican Lake. Approximately 820 metres long and in good condition. It is mostly used as a winter trail.
From the northeast shore of the baylet at the east side of Deschambault Lake this portage starts at an inconspicuous break in the willows.
From the most westerly part of South Arm, Pelican Lake, this portage starts on the west side 70 metres north of the base of the inflowing stream at a break in the poplar shoreline.
After completing the portaging, paddle north on South Arm, past Sandy Narrows and along the shores of the more exposed part of Pelican Lake to the community of Pelican Narrows.
Pelican Narrows has several general stores, a Saskatchewan government office, R.C.M.P. detachment, and radio and telephone services.
From Pelican Narrows paddle east through Opawikusehikan Narrows under the highway bridge to the north end of Mirond Lake. Travel north and then east on Mirond Lake to the east side of Wunehikun Bay.
Enter the very narrow and hard-to-find outlet stream on the east central shore of Wunehikun Bay leading to Meggisi Rapids. Travel south down the east side of this small bay and enter the meandering, reed-lined channel leading to the small lake west of Meggisi Rapids.
Portage No. 3:
Around Meggisi Rapids. Approximately 550 metres long and in good condition.
From the northeast shore of the small lake this portage starts at a break in the poplar and willow shore about 90 metres north of the inflowing rapids. Canoe travel is now upstream against a very slight current.
From above Meggisi Rapids this portage shows as a small break in the willows and alders about 80 to 90 metres above the start of the rapids on the north side of the river.
After about one kilometre of quiet paddling, more rapids occur.
Portage No. 4: (Not shown on map 63M)
Connecting quiet water above Maggisi Rapids with the northwest end of Waskwei Lake. Approximately 180 metres long and in good condition.
From the downstream side this portage starts 30 metres from the base of the rapids on the north side at a break in the willows and alders. If water levels are low, make the full portage. If water levels are high, portage only 60 to 70 metres to shores of a small pool, paddle on and then haul or lift over the ledge on the north side.
From the upstream side (outlet of Waskwei Lake) this portage starts 20 metres above the ledge on the north shore at a break in the willows and alders.
At the narrows separating the northwest part of Waskwei Lake from the main body of the lake there is a small island. Haul up or line-up the more easterly channel past the island. There are some outpost fishing cabins on Waskwei Lake shortly after hauling up through the narrows.
Paddle to the east end of Waskwei Lake and into a meandering, reed-bordered stream against a slight current. Travel on to the base of a beautiful little falls. Outfitters have built a dock below the falls at the start of the portage.
Portage No. 5:
Connecting the stream flowing into the east end of Waskwei Lake with the outlet of Attitti Lake. Approximately 230 metres long and in good condition but steep at first.
From below the falls the start of this portage is obvious at the dock on the north side.
From above the falls this portage starts at a dock on the north side.
Canoeists must paddle up through one fast riffle a few hundred metres above the falls and then out onto the quiet waters of Attitti Lake.
There is a large outfitters camp on the east side of Attitti Lake at the central narrows.
Portage across Attitti Lake into its east arm extending towards Kakinagimak Lake.
Portage No. 6:
Connecting the east arm of Attitti Lake to the small nameless lake to the east. Approximately 320 metres long and in fair condition.
From the east arm of Attitti Lake this portage starts at a grassy bank on the northeast shore at the location shown on map 63M.
Paddle across this small lake in a northeast direction to its outlet.
Portage No. 7:
Connecting the small nameless lake with the long lake leading to Kakinagimak Lake. Approximately 70 metres long and in poor condition.
This portage starts on the north side of the outlet about 10 metres from the beaver dam. There are the remains of an old dock at the start of the portage.
Paddle up the narrow lake leading to Kakinagimak Lake and push through the narrows which are reed and cattail lined. There is a very slight flow to the northeast at this point. After pushing through the narrows, paddle east across the next wide spot into more narrows and then out onto the main part of Kakinagimak Lake.
Travel north-northeast on Kakinagimak Lake to its outlet at the north end.
Portage No. 8:
Connecting the north end of Kakinagimak Lake with quiet water in the stream below the dam. Approximately 70 metres long and in fair condition. It is steep at the north end.
From the north end of Kakinagimak Lake this portage starts on the west or left side of the beaver dam.
Within 400 metres on the outlet stream there is another beaver dam followed by lengthy rapids.
Portage No. 9: (Not shown on map)
Around beaver dam and rapids in stream north of Kakinagimak Lake. Approximately 640 metres long and in good condition except for a few windfalls.
From the upstream side this portage starts on the east side of the dam and ends well below the base of the rapids in a narrows blocked by debris above.
After 800 metres of quiet water another dam blocks canoe travel.
Portage No. 10:
Around beaver dam and rapids in stream south of Nemei Lake. Approximately 90 metres long and in good condition.
This portage starts on the west side of the dam and ends 15 metres from the base of the rapids.
Travel on for about one kilometre, hauling over a few beaver dams, to the south shore of Nemei Lake.
Paddle northeast on Nemei Lake and enter the outlet at the north end. Within 400 metres more rapids occur.
Portage No. 11: (Not shown on map)
Around first rapids north of Nemei Lake in the Nemei River. Approximately 75 metres long and in good condition.
This portage starts on the east shore just below a rock at the start of the fast water. After a few hundred metres of river travel more rapids occur.
Portage No. 12: (Not shown on map)
Around rapids in Nemei River. Approximately 165 metres and in fair condition.
This portage starts in a quiet cove on the east side 30 to 40 metres above the main rapids.
There follows a quieter stretch for about 800 metres and then more rapids.
Portage No. 13: (Not shown on map)
Around rapids in Nemei River. Approximately 200 metres long and in good condition.
This portage starts on the west side at a break in the alders 30 metres above the fast water.
Next rapids occur within 180 metres. These can probably be run on east side depending on prevailing water levels. There is a poor trail on the east side which can be used if rapids are not run.
The next small rapid occurs below a small islet in the stream. This rapid can be run at adequate water levels or land on the west side and lower the canoe for a few metres to a point below the rapids.
A straight stretch of river follows in which the river enters a beautiful area of sandy pine ridges. After several kilometres this area ends with a substantial rapid.
Portage No. 14: (Not shown on map)
Around rapids in the Nemei River. Approximately 100 metres long and in good condition.
This portage starts on the west shore about 25 metres above the start of the rapids at a grassy landing.
After several more kilometres of lovely river travel, more rapids.
Portage No. 15: (Not shown on map)
Around rapids in the Nemei River. Approximately 365 metres long and in good condition.
This portage starts on the northwest shore 10 metres above the start of the rapids.
After a short stretch the Nemei River goes under Highway 135 at Mile 38. There are rapids at this crossing also.
Portage No. 16:
Over Highway 135 and around rapids below highway. Approximately 100 metres long and in good condition.
Land on the road embankment north of the six (6) culverts and carry across the road. Pick up a trail 35 metres north of the culverts at the edge of the bush.
Below the end of the portage immediately cross the river to the south shore and land above the next rapids.
Portage No. 17:
Around second set of rapids shortly below highway crossing. Approximately 230 metres long and in fair condition but steep.
This portage starts on the south shore at an obvious opening by a big spruce tree.
After a short distance the canoeist comes to the last set of rapids before Sandy Bay.
Portage No. 18: (Not shown on map)
Around last set of rapids before Sandy Bay. Approximately 180 metres long and in fair condition.
This portage starts on the west side 15 metres above the rapids at a grassy break in the alders.
Below this rapid paddle on until the bridge at the mouth of the Nemei River. Canoes can pass under this bridge if the water level is not too high.
Paddle on about five kilometres along the east shore of the bay to the community of Sandy Bay. This is the end point of this trip.
WRITTEN BY: Peter Gregg.