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8/09/2019 9:10 pm  #1

help with three young kids

i'm planning a short trip with my wife and our three young kids (8, 4, and almost 2). we spent a couple nights on parkside bay with our oldest a few years ago, and last year we paddled (all 5 of us and our gear in one canoe) across canisbay lake and camped there. I was thinking to go back to Parkside Bay this year - but i'm concerned about having 5 people and all our gear in one canoe. What do you all think of one canoe vs. one for each adult (splitting the gear and the kids)? We're going to have to split up one day - just looking for advice on when you recommend doing so.

A second, related question, is whether we should consider a different trip. Your recommendations for a two-day trip to some great campsites would be very much appreciated.  



8/10/2019 5:17 am  #2

Re: help with three young kids

The ranger cabin on Farm?


8/10/2019 5:08 pm  #3

Re: help with three young kids

sorry, i dont follow. questions were - should we take 1 canoe, or 2? and should we stick to Smoke>Parkside Bay or is there another highly recommended trip for the five of us? thx.

     Thread Starter

8/10/2019 5:23 pm  #4

Re: help with three young kids

I highly recommend shall lake, paddle in, no portaging, great beach sites. Not a long paddle, lots to see around the area. Scenic lake. There’s also a campsite on farm lake, close to the cabin ( on the right hand site of the river) that has sun all day, under white pines, but is a bit further to paddle, again no portages. I would try 2 canoes, or 1 canoe and your oldest a small kayak to paddle along. [It’s what I did with my 3 kids, although the youngest one was a bit older then your 2 yr old. My 10 yr old was just fine with the small kayak.]   That’s about a 45 minute paddle from the car. Shall lake sites about a half hour or so from the car. There are portages you can hike in all directions.
If you’re into portaging no matter what, carry on to booth lake, also has some sandy beach sites.
The farm lake site is on the PCI report. Can’t think of the site # so quickly. 
I did find most of the farm lake sites very dank and dark, but for the pine tree site on the river.
The pci shall lake site #3 is not one of the beach sites, I stayed on that one in recent years.
Other then that, ofcourse the work will be more evenly decided  if you take 2 canoes. But most of all have fun!


8/11/2019 6:24 am  #5

Re: help with three young kids

jherrington wrote:

sorry, i dont follow. questions were - should we take 1 canoe, or 2? and should we stick to Smoke>Parkside Bay or is there another highly recommended trip for the five of us? thx.

My post was an offer for your consideration to book the ranger cabin on Farm, which I thought might be an appropriate destination for your group of five people, including three young children. No portaging and easily attainable.

I have nothing to offer regarding vessel configuration and so I did not answer that question.


8/12/2019 1:12 pm  #6

Re: help with three young kids

Hi Joey ... 2 canoes would be mu suggestion .. are you open to going to the west side of the park? If so message me and I can make a few suggestions ...


8/12/2019 9:06 pm  #7

Re: help with three young kids

Hi Joey, there have been a couple of  threads on this earlier this season:
Drew also just posted a trip report he did with his daughter to Tom Thomson and if you check his site he has a write up of a trip he did to Potter as well with his kids.  https://algonquinadventures.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=2570
And the Farm/Kitty cabin suggested by Scratchy might also be a good idea though I've heard the cabins can attract a lot of mice - likely more after a summer of campers.  
As for load configuration that is a tough one.  On easy water sure 2 canoes makes some sense but I wouldn't want to be caught out in waves and wind with only 1 adult to 2 children.  So I would go together in one canoe and if you cant get all your stuff - take the essentials the first time and send one adult back for more.  Lots of work I appreciate.



8/13/2019 6:59 am  #8

Re: help with three young kids

I'm going to propose a different suggestion- can you and your wife solo paddle?  you could put the 8 yr old in a canoe with the weaker adult and paddle it backwards to maintain trim- that way the youngster can help paddle and also gets the feeling of accomplishment, that's what I did with my daughter starting at about 5 yrs old, she was soloing by 7.
In the other canoe you can put the two yr old in the bow with a little paddle to mess around where you can keep an eye on them, and the 4 yr old in the stern to mess around too, where an occasional glance is sufficient. Place yourself near centre where you can fully control the boat.
just be prepared to go slower than normal, to have to land if the wind kicks up, and keep each "session" down to no more than a couple of hours between landings to allow time for everyone to stretch, eat a snack, and run around to burn off some energy


8/17/2019 8:21 pm  #9

Re: help with three young kids

I have 3 kids, now ages 7, 9 and 12. We have taken the kids to APP backcountry since they were between a month and 3 months old (born June, July and Aug). This year, we just finished a week-long loop from Smoke to Louisa and back, and we are leaving on a 9-day trip from #3 to Big Trout on Monday. We single-portage on the trips. I have 3 canoes, both my wife and I can solo, but this is the best possible set-up:

- Souris River 18.5 foot canoe
- 3 Slogg 115L bags between bow seat and yoke
- 2 smaller 35-L bags behind middle seat and stern seat
- kids sit in middle seat, look out in front of the bow or on top of bags
- sometimes the oldest paddles bow, I get to fish

I'll post pics when I get home. By far the most comfortable, efficient set-up. Having said that, my 12-year old can carry my 16-footer, so we will likely go to two canoes next year.


Last edited by Marko_Mrko (8/17/2019 8:22 pm)


8/18/2019 6:51 am  #10

Re: help with three young kids

Here's our packing list:

Pic from 2013, when the youngest was a year old. Lots of space! 

Pics from 2018, the first year we were able to single-carry portages:Still lotsa room!! 




8/19/2019 10:25 am  #11

Re: help with three young kids

Marko_Mrko wrote:

Here's our packing list: 

That's a very through and practical list, which is important if you want to single portage and not forget anything. I agree that you only need 1/4 of a scrub pad (I like to use 1/3 of a sponge-scrub combo pad) but 5 ml/p/d of sunscreen doesn't seem like enough.

I have a similar list, with similar checkboxes to make sure I first stage and then pack everything. Several years ago I started adding weights and calorie counts as I'm trying to optimize my equipment inventory with new purchases and meal choices. Recently I wrote a python script to parse my inventory text file, reading the quantities that I selected for a trip and produce a trip specific list with calculated weights, organized by pack. Fills the time in between adventures.


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