Every time I paddle, something predominates. While paddling the St. Lawrence River along the 11 islands of the Long Sault Parkway one hot, summer day, with a group of seven kayakers, I kept thinking, “Big sky! I love the big sky here!”

Often in Canada, we benefit from what I call “interesting sky days” caused by ever-changing cloud formations mingling whimsically with azure blue skies. On the water, the sky, clouds, and wind have a profound effect on our paddling mood.

When the puffy, white Cumulus clouds dance, they are like a capricious artist’s giant panoramic mural. Cloud dance is one of the best shows on Earth. It is captivating. On the open water, you are surrounded by it. It makes you imagine and wonder. Kayaking is a great way to experience itLong Sault is a special place to find it.

The Long Sault Parkway runs from the towns of Long Sault to Ingleside, Ontario. The road in the parkway, just off Hwy 2, and a series of bridges connect 11 islands.

You’ll be paddling around Lost Villages that were moved before the area was flooded in 1958 to expand the St. Lawrence Seaway. The 11 islands in the Long Sault Parkway are high points that remained after the flooding. More than 6500 people, and 500 homes were moved and relocated. What couldn’t be moved was bulldozed or burned down. Many of the displaced villagers moved to the new towns of Ingleside and Long Sault. Divers still explore the submerged ruins.

Long Sault was a rapid on the St. Lawrence River west of Cornwall, Ontario. The rapids created a navigation barrier for boats and ships. In the 1950s, the size of ships and the volume of shipping traffic along the St. Lawrence was more than the region’s canal locks could handle.

Expanding the St. Lawrence Seaway required flooding land near the rapids to allow for a hydroelectric dam and to make this section of the St. Lawrence navigable. It was a large and extensive project.

The flooded region includes Ontario’s ten Lost Villages and hamlets of Mille Roches, Moulinette, Wales, Dickinson’s Landing, Farran’s Point, Aultsville, Maple Grove, Santa Cruz, Woodlands, and Sheek’s Island.

A museum in Ault Park, about 3 kilometres east of Long Sault, is devoted to the Lost Villages, including several historic buildings salvaged from the communities. You can cycle to the Lost Villages Museum on the Waterfront Trail, or drive to it.

Other buildings from the Lost Villages were moved to the site of Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg, Ontario.

The town of Long Sault, Ontario and the Long Sault Parkway both take their name from the rapids.

This little piece of history is something intriguing to think about as you paddle the now deeper, open water of the St. Lawrence along the Long Sault Parkway. The region is abundant with beautiful views unblocked by urban sprawl or mountain ranges. It gives you a feeling of big sky, while the islands provide a backdrop for you to follow along on your map, “Which island are we approaching now?”

The beautiful, sandy launch site at Ingleside is also next to one of my favourite sections of The Waterfront Trail, making it a good location to launch a kayak or canoe, or to bring your bike for a waterfront cycle.

When your paddle starts from such a picturesque location, and takes you towards even nicer spots, it’s going to be good day.

Now you know why we chose the Long Sault Parkway for a paddle. Here are the details!

Our paddle route was 11 km (6.8 miles) each way, 22 km roundtrip:

We launched from the sandy shore at Ingleside on the St. Lawrence River, just west of the Long Sault Parkway, and headed east (or left from the launch) towards Long Sault.

There is ample free parking at Ingleside next to the launch. Where Dickenson Street ends on St. Lawrence Drive, just follow the road almost directly across. It leads to the water and ends at the launch and parking.

If you are camping in the Long Sault Parkway, there are numerous places to launch a kayak. Check with the park for more information.

We paddled between the mainland and the 11 islands of the Long Sault Parkway to Mille Roches Island. Looping around Mille Roches Island into the more open water and wind of the St. Lawrence, and paddled back heading west on the south side of the Long Sault Parkway towards our launch site at Ingleside.

Further south of the Long Sault Parkway, across the international border between Canada and the U.S., we could see a series of islands in the distance off Massena, New York State. If you are paddling from Canadian shores, make sure not to wander off and accidentally cross the international border.

We stopped at MacDonell Island for a long, leisurely lunch break.

The fair weather day with light to moderate winds kept rewarding us with hypnotic views of the drifting Cumulus clouds. The effects are magical and surreal on the water. Can you feel it too?

I particularly enjoy the space we have around the Long Sault Parkway islands and the boat channel on this stretch of the St. Lawrence. There is plenty of room for everyone.

We did not encounter any strong currents or difficult rapids on our paddle route.

Enjoy the water and the big sky at Long Sault! I certainly did.

Island shorelines vary along the route. Like any paddle you undertake, be mindful of the wind and weather report, water temperatures, shallows, shoals, and motorized craft on the water.

The beautiful Long Sault Parkway is popular for waterfront camping, beaches, kayaking, cycling, fishing and boating.

Happy trails!
Peggy Varner