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Lake Ontario in Ontario

Trip Overview

North Shore Lake Ontario

Kayak Picnicking in Durham

Hurricane Hazel was a terrible event. It left death and destruction in its wake. It changed the course of rivers washed out Bridges and dragged houses into the Lake.

Now we have sensible bylaws to prevent people from building close to the Lake or on the verges of rivers. So now kayakers on Lake Ontario have a view of uninterrupted parkland as they travel by the shores of Durham. At the end of every river in Durham there is a park. Each park is an opportunity for a picnic.

Starting from the Rouge River in the West, if we paddle east we encounter:

Petticoat Creek, Frenchman's Bay, Duffins' Creek, Carruthers Creek, Lynde Creek, Pringle Creek, Corbett Creek, Oshawa Creek, Harmony Creek, Robinson Creek, Tooley Creek, West Side Creek, Wilmot Creek and Graham Creek.

Each of these creeks provides its own opportunity for kayak picnicking. From the awesome display of local natural history at Harmony Creeks' Second Marsh, to the mile-long sand beach at Frenchman's Bay there are sites to please every kind of Kayaker.

As a solo Kayaker and Birdwatcher, I like to put in at Frenchmans Bay and paddle west to Petticoat Creek. There are some big submerged rocks as you approach Petticoat creek and you can sometimes see fish swimming around them. At Petticoat creek there is a beautiful little beach with plenty of driftwood and broken picnic tables to sit on. If you are picnicking there in the Spring, do not forget your binoculars! The bluffs of the creek are a resting site for a variety of birds on the northward migration: Various Warblers, charming Kinglets, groups of Cedar Waxwings, Finches and the occasional opportunistic Raptor. The bush is thick and it takes some patience to see birds in thick bush. Bear in mind that they are there to hide out and catch their breath after crossing the Lake - they are not there to pose for your camera.

If you go down to Petticoat creek itself and look up the marsh you will see various ducks (mostly Mallards), Geese, Marsh Wrens, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Swallows and the inevitable Kingfishers.

When I have finished my delightful picnic, I carefully pack all my rubbish and launch out onto the lake again with a pleasantly full stomach. I then head my Kayak West again towards the Rouge River.

Between Petticoat Creek and The Rouge there is a rocky point of land. Offshore of this point are huge submerged boulders overgrown with water weeds. Little fish live there and the Mergansers go there to hunt them. Mergansers are truly beautiful birds, as large as Loons and gloriously colored, with magnificent crests. They can swim around underwater hunting small fish for ten minutes at a stretch. These birds are monogamous. I have never seen more than three of them off the Point. And dont expect to see the Mergansers if the kids are out on their Personal Water Craft.

After a view up the lake from the Point, I like to head out from shore to get a view of the big picture. The Legacy of Hurricane Hazel can clearly be seen from here as well as the legacy of all the good people of Ontario who worked hard behind the scenes to make our waterfront a place that all of us can enjoy. I see trees, river valleys, beaches and bluffs. I see the clouds over the Oak Ridges Moraine.

From here, the prevailing Westerly winds and the on-shore currents tend to carry the Kayak back to Frenchmans Bay. A ride on following waves and wind bring you back to the put-in point. After pulling out on the sandy beach at Frenchmans Bay I like to go for a refreshing swim. The water here is cold sometimes but it is the cleanest in the region.

There are so many beautiful places to Kayak-Picnic in Durham.


Food, drink and kayak gear is available at the south end of nearby Liverpool Road.

Drop by Frenchman's Bay Kayak Works and see our workshop.




Highway 401 to Whites Road. Whites Road South to Bailey. East on Bailey to West Shore. South on West Shore to the beach.


Google Maps or visit Frenchman's Bay Kayak Works

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip