Take a Canoe or Kayaking Trip
Canoe and Kayak Northern Michigan
Sea kayaking the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is world class kayaking. The Lake Superior Hiawatha Water Trail from Munising through Marquette to Big Bay is very highly rated as a great adventure for sea kayaking.
If you want a guided Lake Superior kayak trip, we offer adventures to waters of Isle Royale, Keweenaw Peninsula, Presque Isles and shoreline in Marquette, Pictured Rocks and Grand Island in Munising. Check out our Lake Superior kayak trips
If you're not feeling like a Great Lakes adventure, we have
kayak and canoe trips on our inland rivers and lakes. Whether you want a guided
wilderness trip or just rent our canoes or kayaks and explore for yourself
- we are happy to cater to your needs
By 1681, the French authorities realized the traders had to be controlled so that the industry remained profitable. They therefore legitimized and limited the numbers of coureurs de bois by establishing a system that used permits (or congés). This legitimization created a "second-generation" coureur de bois: the voyageur, which literally means "traveller". This name change came as a result of a need for the legitimate fur traders to distance themselves from the unlicensed ones. Voyageurs held a permit or were allied with a Montreal merchant who had one.
The fur trade was then controlled by a small number of Montreal merchants. New France also began a policy of expansion in an attempt to dominate the trade. French influence extended west, north and south. Forts and trading posts were built with the help of explorers and traders. Trade treaties were negotiated with native groups, and fur trading became very profitable and organized. The system became complex, and the voyageurs, many of whom had been independent traders, slowly became hired labourers.
For the most part, voyageurs were the crews hired to man the canoes that carried trade goods and supplies to "rendezvous posts" (example: Grand Portage) where goods and supplies were exchanged for furs. The canoes traveled along well-established water routes. They then transported the furs back to Lachine near Montreal. Some voyageurs stayed in the back country over the winter and transported the trade goods from the rendezvous posts to farther-away French outposts. These men were known as the hivernants (winterers). They also helped negotiate trade in native villages. In the spring they would carry furs from these remote outposts back to the rendezvous posts. Voyageurs also served as guides for explorers (such as Pierre La Vérendrye). The majority of these canoe men were French Canadian, or Métis. They were usually from Island of Montreal or seigneuries and parishes along or near the St. Lawrence River. Many were from France, and many were members of Native tribes.
The voyageurs were highly valued employees of trading companies, such as the North West Company (NWC) and the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC). Because of the effectiveness of voyageurs, the NWC was able to challenge the HBC. The HBC started hiring their own voyageurs in 1815 to help them compete with the NWC.
The voyageurs are legendary, especially in French Canada. They are folk heroes celebrated in folklore and music. The reality of their lives was that of toil. For example, they had to be able to carry two 90 pound bundles of fur over portages; more suffered from strangulated hernias than any other injury.
Voyageurs who only paddled between Montreal and Grand Portage were known as "mangeurs de lard" (pork eaters) because of their diet, much of which consisted of salt pork. This is considered to be a derogatory term. Those who overwintered and ate "off the land" (mainly fish, pemmican and Rubaboo) were called "homme du nord" or "winterer". Voyageurs were expected to work 14 hours per day and paddle at a rate of 55 strokes per minute. Few could swim. Many drowned in rapids or in storms while crossing lakes. Portages and routes were often indicated by lob trees, or trees that had their branches cut off just below the top of the tree.
Kayaks, as used by Eskimos, were built from wood and animal bone frames and the skin of seals stretched over. Since we have never had seals in the UP the kayak is a modern times mode of transportation here. But it works well and is better for going long distances especially in the Great Lakes.
So as you paddle the waters of the Upper Peninsula think about the history
of those that have paddled these beautiful waters before you. You are seeing
the same sights
as they did.
Paddling the Upper Peninsula is about as diverse as it gets. Great places to canoe and kayak are found just about everywhere. Small lakes, rivers, large flowages with islands, and, of course, the great lakes. There are also many outfitters that you can either rent canoes and kayaks or that can take you on a guided adventure. If you want to plan a trip on your own great locations to canoe and kayak are: St. Mary’s’ River, Le Channeaux Islands, Taqunameon State Park, Manistique River, Big Two-Hearted River, Fox River, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Munising Bay, Au Train River and Bay, Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Escanaba River, Craig Lake State Park, Menominee River, Greenwood Reservior, Copper Harbor, Portage Lake, Keweenaw Bay, Isle Royale, Brule and Iron Rivers, and hundreds of small inland lakes.
For more information of Guided Trips or canoe and kayak rentals check out the below listed websites: