McLennan - Small Circle Trip
The McLennan Lake Canoe Area is typical Precambrian Shield country. In a small region, roughly 22 by 28 km, more than 100 lakes are mostly connected by short portages (there are only a few more than 400 meters in the whole area). The area is island filled crystal clear lakes, granite outcroppings, mixed forest, muskegs here and there. This is canoe country at it’s best.
The McLennan Lake Canoe Area is an area that the Bill Mason quote describes: “First God made the canoe, and then he needed to create a place for it, so he created the McLennan Lake area (Canada)”. The area is so interconnected. There are so many canoe routes possible. There are two main routes. And there are a great many routes into less travelled areas. The route we have chosen for this trip is a typical route in the area. We get to camp in some of the best spots. You get to experience the crystal clear island filled lakes, the short portages and the serenity that are part of this special area.
Trip at a Glance
Lakewater wilderness canoe trip
Length: 5 days
Skill Level: Beginner
Dates: June 28 to July 2
Trip Fees: $1195 CAD
Trip Rendezvous: Missinipe, Saskatchewan with shuttle service available from the La Ronge airport
The McLennan Lake Canoe Trip follows a route we call the Small Circle. The trip starts and ends at the boat launch on McLennan Lake. The route is 45 km long with 9 portages. The longest portage is about 300 meters in length and the shortest is 6 meters.
You’ll become familiar with lakes like Hutchings, McLean, Minuhik and even Pissoff Lake. You’ll have discussions about which was your favourite camping spot. Was it the one on Versailles Lake? Or Davis Lake? Or maybe it was the one on Pissoff Lake? The evening campfires may be serenaded by the call of the loon. Or maybe by the slap of a beaver’s tail. Or sometimes by a curious mink making his rounds through the camp. The area always leaves a person with the desire to come back and explore more.
Day 1 Monday, June 28th, 2021 - Travel to Missinipe, SK
- Flights from Saskatoon to La Ronge, CRCO shuttle pickup at the airport to Missinipe (80 km).
- Pre trip meeting, gear check, dinner, overnight at CRCO in Missinipe
Day 2 - Breakfast, then a van shuttle to McLennan Lake (50 km)
- Canoe skills review, paddle, set up camp
Day 3 to Day 5 - Paddle the lakes in the McLennan Lake Canoe Area
- Paddle the crystal clear unspoiled lakes of the McLennan area. Lake with names like McLean, Hutchings, Pissoff, Versailles and Davis will all become part of your experience. Each night, we will camp at a new site, surrounded by ruggedly beautiful scenery.
Day 5 Friday, July 2, 2021
- The trip ends at back at McLennan Lake. Shuttle back to Missinipe (50 km).
- Optional Group Dinner and overnight in Missinipe (own expense) or mid-afternoon departure from Missinipe. A shuttle is available to the La Ronge airport. That shuttle to La Ronge can also go the next day.
- Overnight in Saskatoon (own expense) or flights home
What is Included in the Trip Price
•Overnight stay at CRCO in Missinipe on June 28th
•Guides - 5:1 ratio
• Excellent meals from Day 2 lunch to Day 5 lunch
• 17’ Prospector expedition canoes
• Paddles, PFD, helmets (you may bring your own)
• Throw lines and other safety accessories
• Camping Equipment:
• Tents - free standing custom expedition dome tents - 2 per tent
• ‘Kitchen’ - tarp, fire box, cooking stoves, utensils, dishes, etc
• First aid and repair kits, communications equipment (satellite phone)
• Canoe rescue gear
• Van ride to McLennan Lake from Missinipe and back
• Transportation to and from the La Ronge airport and Missinipe
• Transportation of guides, group gear, canoe etc to and from trip
What is not Included in the Trip Price
• Saskatchewan tax: 11% of the trip fee
• Personal clothing and gear - a recommended clothing & equipment list will be provided
• Travel between your home and the trip rendezvous - Missinipe, Saskatchewan
• Accommodation in Missinipe after the trip (approx. $60 per person based on double occupancy)
• Any meals in Missinipe before or after the trip
• Any additional expenses or costs incurred as a result of delays to the trip caused by factors beyond our control - i.e. wind, waves, unsafe paddling conditions, forest fire, pandemic, etc
• Any costs associated with your emergency evacuation from the trip - please contact us at CRCO for more information
• Gratuities - we recommend $12-$15 per day per guide
This area has never been busy. The first nations people before the fur trade would pass through here, but because the area did not support an abundance of large game for food they did not stay. Even during the fur trade era, there were no trading posts in the area. There were a few trappers who made their living from the area. They can be credited for the abundance of portage trails between every lake. But the area was not busy.
The busiest time in the McLennan Lake area came in the late 1960 and early 70s. McLennan Lake was the end of the road. Draft dodgers from the USA came and found a secluded spot in the forest near a lake. They would build a cabin and hide. During the peak, there were between 50 and 60 of these hiding places on the lakes of the McLennan area. Most of these became leased property and many are still occupied today, although non by the original owners. There are only a few of these that continue to be year round residents. Even though there were many living here at that time, they were all far apart and because they were in ‘hiding’ the area remained quiet. To a large extent that philosophy remains to-day. In most cases you can paddle by one of these properties and not even know it.
Today the McLennan Lake Canoe Area remains much as it always has been—a wonderfully quiet region one can endlessly explore by canoe.
Any bird or animal that eats fish is common in the McLennan Lake area. Loons, bald eagles, grebes and merganzers are all fish eaters. You may also see mink, and martins. You will likely see evidence of moose, bear and wolves, but is rare special treat to see these shy animals. There is also a small group of woodland caribou that live in this area. These are very rarely seen, but sometimes we get to follow their tracks across a portage. And there are fish, mainly lake trout and northern pike.
Your Churchill River Canoe Outfitter guides are exceptionally qualified. Each principal guide has an extensive outdoor background, formal training and leadership experience. On most expeditions there will be an assistant guide. The guides are always ready to provide coaching and helpful advice on any aspect of the trip and will attempt to maximize the spirit of adventure for each individual. Your safety is their prime concern and your guide will make decisions with this in mind. We must stress that listening carefully to instructions given by the guide is your responsibility and in the best interest of you and the group. Each group member is encouraged to contribute to the tasks of the canoe trip and your guides will act as helpful resource people. Lastly, as this is your holiday, the CRCO guides have a real sense of fun and excitement, and will help to make this your trip of a lifetime!
Our menus are delicious and nutritious. Everyone helps out cooking meals over a wood fire or camping stove from a combination of fresh, dried and freeze-dried products. Breakfasts consist of cereal, fruit and a main course such as blueberry pancakes or eggs and bacon. At lunch you will enjoy a selection of breads (rye bread, bagels, tortillas) with cheeses, sliced meats or veggies ... and of course, good old peanut butter and jam, followed up by cookies or fruit. Dinner consists of hors d’oeuvers, a main course then dessert. Entrees include chicken stir fry and pesto / pine nut / red pepper pasta. Perhaps we’ll have a salad and finish up with brownies or a lemon desert. On cooler days, a hearty mug of steaming soup is always available, along with tea, coffee, hot chocolate or cold drinks. If you have food allergies or dietary restrictions you should contact our office. You will be required to assist in your menu preparation. We don’t want anyone going hungry or reduced to eating boring food!
The McLennan Lake Canoe Area often has idyllic summer temperatures, but not always. Expect temperatures to range from 10 C to 32C, but averaging from 20 - 25 C. A good rain suit is a must, along with some warm clothing for cool days and nights. The water temperature in late June is usually about 20 C.
Frequently Asked Questions
The McLennan Lake trip meets at Missinipe, Saskatchewan. Most people will drive to Missinipe. However, there are daily flights from Saskatoon to La Ronge via Transwest Air. From La Ronge we will arrange a shuttle to Missinipe. You should arrive in Missinipe on Monday, June 28th and can depart on or after Friday July 2, 2021. Churchill River Canoe Outfitters is located in Missinipe. CRCO has cabins and a hostel to rent. The town has a restaurant, a small convenience store and float plane base. We will reserve a cabin for you for Night 1 on us. We can also reserve a cabin for you for Night 5, the cost will be approximately $60.00 per person.
This Trip is rated Novice Skill Level - No previous experience is necessary.
The McLennan Lake Canoe Trip is for those who want to experience a true wilderness canoe trip. It is a great introduction to wilderness canoe tripping. No canoeing experience is necessary. But participants should come in decent physical condition. There are 9 portages. Some of these can be in poor condition, and will undoubtably have poor footing and mud. You should be prepared to carry your share of the group’s load. The pace will be fairly full but there will have time for instruction and coaching along the way. At the campsite everyone pitches in with setting up tents, collecting firewood, preparing meals, telling stories etc. The guides coordinate things and are always ready to assist you in any tasks. On the water they will provide expert coaching and lots of personal attention.
YES, we highly recommend you to purchase 1) Emergency Medical/Evacuation Insurance, 2) Trip Interruption Insurance and 3) Trip Cancellation Insurance. Many credit card companies offer limited interruption/cancellation insurance, so please consult with yours before you book your trip to ensure you are adequately covered. Please also note that some types of insurance are only valid if they are purchased within a short time of making a non-refundable payment towards a trip. More information about these can be obtained through your preferred insurance provider. Prior to confirming your trip’s departure, we will ask you to sign a waiver stating you have either purchased adequate insurance or that you will be personally responsible and financially liable for any costs incurred as the result of any delays/cancellations/evacuations to you on your trip.