writer traveler photographer

Days 17-19 Picture perfect

I’m on a three-day paddle with Carol and Gerald Jacquard, their dog Bandit, and my husband Barrie. We’re paddling in a region close to where we live that encompasses three lakes (Quinan, Big Gull and Great Barren), some still waters, and several islands. If I tried to describe the essence of this trip, I would fail. So much for being a writer. Mercifully there are times when a  photo tells a story better than I do.  So this post will be more photos than words although I’ll insert stuff here and there. Just because.



Wildlife photographer Peter Dombrovskis once said, “When you go out there, you don’t get away from it all. You get back to it all. You come home to what’s important. You come home to yourself.”



Of course, a trip wouldn’t be a trip without something weird (or stupid) happening. So picture this: we are nearing the end of day 2 and heading back to camp. We are between Big Gull/Great Barren and Quinan Lake. There’s precious little firewood on the island where our campsite is located, so we’re looking for driftwood along the shores between Gull and Barren.

I spy several worthy specimens; Barrie and I pull up to a big rock close to shore which conveniently has a ledge. I get out of the canoe, pick up an armload of driftwood and proceed to get back into the canoe.  I still don’t know what happened … but I do know that Barrie and I both ended up in the drink and had to bail out before getting back on our way.

For some reason or other he seemed to lose interest in getting more driftwood. Never mind. We “made do” and had a great campfire that night.



There are extraordinary paddling places in this part of the province. In fact, Barrie has started to compile a list for the Southwest Paddlers Association. Worth checking out. The list includes reference points for this trip.

Trip bonus: Carol knows heaps about nature. She helped me identify some flowers, plants and bushes.  The only thing I was sure of, was was highbush blueberries. There’s nothing like stuffing a fistful of fresh blueberries in your gob. There should be a good huckleberry and cranberry crop.

Although we didn’t see any on this trip, I learned that shadbush (a.k.a Indian pear, service berry, Saskatoon berry) is common in our region. The second photo in this grouping below is shadbush growing on Carol’s property. I’m now a convert and looking for it everywhere I go.


shad sm

I also learned that there are some unusual things that are edible like Rock polypoddy–a short fern-like thing that grows in clusters on top of rocks. It can be cut and steeped for a tonic in the spring when the ferns are young. Although we didn’t find wild cucumber on the island where we camped, it’s also quite plentiful in the region. The L-shaped root is crunchy and sweet.

And, oh! the flowers. They are everywhere–along the shorelines, in the forest, even sprouting out of the water. The top one is a Calopogan, a small orchid the size of my thumb. Don’t know what the grassy one is called but the patterns on the water made me giddy.

orchid sm

grasses sm

I’ve paddled many places in Atlantic Canada, but this Quinan trip is one of my favourites. And it’s less than a hour from my doorstep. Do you have a special place to paddle … or to get away from it all?

Do tell!




  1. Shelley Shelley
    July 25, 2015    

    Enjoyed this post very much, Sandra! Reminds me of my years living at Kejimkujik. I appreciated the plant photos. Keep an eye out, there are several rare plants in that area. The last plant (emergent) might be Eleocharis sp. but I am not sure and all my plant id books are at my work office. Looking forward to the next post!

    • July 25, 2015    

      Yes there are lots of rare plants in NS. We live close to stands of Plymouth Gentian … pretty special. Thanks for coming into view! Bet your time at Keji was magical!

  2. July 25, 2015    

    Ooooh. Love that last pic!

    • July 25, 2015    

      Yes Jan, this is as perfect as it gets (the situation, not the photo. haha) Thanks for popping in!

  3. Dianne Crowell Dianne Crowell
    July 25, 2015    

    Great Barren Lake was one of my dad’s favourite paddles, that and Clearwater. We’d often go in the fall with our pillow cases for cranberries. I’d have to say canoeing the Barrington River from the Great Pubnico Lake side while fly fishing is one of my favourite paddles.

    Thanks for more memories……

    • July 25, 2015    

      Ahhh! Must do that paddle from Great Pubnico down the Barrington River sometime. And picking cranberries with pillow cases! Wish I had a photo! Thanks for popping into view Dianne!

  4. Susan Hoover Susan Hoover
    July 27, 2015    

    I ate some Indian Pear berries this weekend at a workshop at the Harrison Lewis Centre on Sandy Bay. They taste great but i don’t often find them.

    One of my favorite places to paddle is up Turtle Creek on the Roseway
    River – a lovely trip down the river from Vicki Healy’s camp to the entrance to Turtle Creek, with a great swimming hole and then a trip up the creek which is kind of like the Shelburne Rver but narrower. And it’s just a day trip. No work at all really!

    • July 27, 2015    

      Ohhh. That trip on Turtle Creek sounds lovely! Can you paddle all the way from there down to Shelburne (say, by Roseway Cottages?) Would love to do that day trip sometime. Perhaps next Spring you and Vicki can get that set up!

  5. Murray Murray
    November 9, 2015    

    I’m a latecomer to this blog, but am enthusiastic already. That trip sounds great, but with a two hour drive to the start, might be a two day trip for me. I often take an eminent Biologist with me, that had identified many of the plants in that area about 10 years ago, that started the interest in naming it a “Special place”. I do the compass/GPS work and mark maps while she identifies type, name, and amount of the plants in an area. Has been fun.

    Now restricted to areas where little portaging is needed, and favourite paddle now is in the Milford lakes group. Especially the North end to Thomas and top of Boot Lake. Very seldom see anyone else there except a few on Boot on August weekends. nice beaches and usually protected from winds. I use the old Bowater roads for access, and happen to know which tee to stop at. for a short carry.
    always looking for one or two paddling partners.

    • November 10, 2015    

      Lovely to see you pop into view Murray! We must keep in touch this coming season and team up for a trip here and there. Maybe you could give husband Barrie a lesson in reading compass/GPS.

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