Just a few miles above this dam is another at Bryce. Dams, and the attendant portages around them, have been the bain of my existence since paddling up the Okanagan River some 5000 or so kilometers ago.
Ann Marie and Peter, the jetskiing couple I had met a few days earlier, helped me find a route past and over the dams at Bryce and Portage du Fort as well as helping me get to Chenal du Grand Calumet to avoid the Class IV and V whitewater in the main and middle channels of the Ottawa River below Pembroke. It was Ann Marie’s persistence that sourced transport past the two dams already mentioned and Peter’s savvy that found the portage past the Chat Falls Generating Station.
For no good reason, Ontario Power Generation purposefully refuses to mark, sign, advertise, or inform in any way shape or form the whereabouts of the portages over their dams and generating stations. It’s more than a nuisance: Federal law dictates that if you obstruct a navigable waterway, you must provide, and maintain, passage. The portages they do publish or recommend are so ludicrous, they defy sanity let alone logic.
The OPG recommended portage around Chat Falls is 8.5km. The traditional Voyageur portage is 500m.
Here’s the portage landing:
Here’s a closeup:
and here’s the trailhead:
What portage, what landing, and what trailhead you may well ask. It took me three times to find the trailhead. One 360 degree circle through the bush where I thought it was, one where I thought it might be, and one where I figured it couldn’t possibly be. I found it on the third, there’s no way it’s here pass. Had I not known exactly, and I mean exactly where to go to find it in the first place, I never would known to get out of the canoe and look. As you might have noticed, there’s a dirth of signage.
Chat Falls is the last dam I needed to give a dam about. Thank God. They have been a royal pain and bain, plane and simple.