Family Adventure on Moose River
Some families watch their favourite shows together, while others have game nights. Some families cook together, and some adventure together. If your family falls into the latter category, then we have the perfect adventure in mind for you. Perhaps you fall into one of the former groups – that’s okay too! MHO Adventures loves showing young, old, new, and seasoned adventurers the ropes. Or, in our line of work, the paddles.
Northern Ontario is home to the historic Moose River, which is found in the Hudson Plains ecoregion. It is calm, surrounded by lush wilderness, and with a rich historical past, it has so many stories to tell. Its tributaries include the French River, Abitibi River, Mattagami River and Missinaibi River and it flows down into James Bay. Here are some of the things that make it one of our popularly requested family adventures.
The adventure begins and ends with a train ride; but, it’s no ordinary train ride. It is the polar bear train express! This famous passenger train is now operated by Ontario Northland. It runs from Cochrane to Moosonee and is a straightforward way to access the Moose River. During the comfortable ride, you can view the rivers and long stretches of tamarack, balsam poplar, and spruce trees that characterize the boreal forest while interacting with an interesting mix of first-timers, regular visitors, and locals. After about 3 hours, it would be time to hop off at the 142 mile flag stop called the Moose River Crossing. The next few days would be spent exploring the river by water and foot. However, for your return trip, you will be back aboard the train for the full 5-hour journey back to Cochrane.
The wonders of Moose River
The Moose River is an absolutely scenic river. One of the first striking features on its banks is the array of Gypsum caves, which were naturally formed over millennia. Another important part of this area is the ancestral burial grounds for the Cree people, which provide a glimpse into their culture. Moose River itself has rapids which are designated I-III, according to the classification scale. This means that it is suitable for family fun. Beginners and novices can brush up their paddling skills under instruction from our enthusiastic guides. Remember, an experienced guide is key to an exciting successful voyage!
Paddling is certainly not an all-day affair during this trip. MHO Adventures knows how to ensure that you have fun activities and experiences to keep every member of the family engaged. You would be encouraged to wander along the shoreline, where you can identify cattail, bulrush, daisies, asters and other flowering plants. If you search well enough, you can also happen upon some fossils. Swimming, sun-basking and water games are lovely things to do during the scheduled leisure times. Fishing is also permitted with the relevant licence. In early fall, a number of seals and beluga whales can be seen.
There are a number of islands and sandbars that make lovely campsites. As with many outdoor adventures, setting up camp occurs each evening, courtesy team effort. MHO Adventures has special recipes for hearty outdoor meals, which can be enjoyed by the campfire when games, story-telling and singing are ongoing. Some of the most remarkable sights of the entire trip are the breathtaking sunsets, particularly as one gets closer to James Bay. You are also quite likely to see the Northern lights dancing happily in the night skies during some of your trip. And if it is your preference, you can even totally avoid portaging during your expedition.
Moose Factory Island
The Moose Island is found towards the mouth of the Moose River, just 20Km away from James Bay. It is Ontario’s oldest English speaking settlement and was the location of the second Hudson’s Bay trading post in North America – the remains of which still exist. Other old buildings to see are St. Thomas Anglican Church and a blacksmith’s shop. Moose Factory is predominantly a Cree community and there is a lot to learn from their rich culture. You may find a visit to the Cree Cultural Interpretive Centre quite enlightening. There are also more ancestral burial grounds that can be viewed respectfully. Right across the island is the Moosonee mainland, from where one can catch a return trip on Polar Bear Train Express.
Ship Sands Island
Depending on your schedule, you may be able to get on a boat and visit one more place called Ship Sands Island. This island is home to the Moose River Migratory Bird Sanctuary. It is found at the mouth of the Moose River, where the funnel shape of the James Bay naturally encourages birds to gather, and it has been designated a wetland of international importance. The most common birds that stop here are lesser snow geese and Canada geese. Others include common snipe, dunlin, lesser scaup, black-bellied plover, sandhill crane, and American black duck. This sanctuary ensures that migratory birds at different stages can safely stop to feed, rest, and nest without being hunted for game by humans. The best time to see these birds is in Spring and early Fall.
Ready, set, Moose River!
There is no age restriction for the Moose River expedition with MHO Adventures. From canoeing on calm waters to exploring historic sites and making delicious outdoor food, there are activities and experiences that every member of your nature-loving family will find appealing. Experiencing the beauty and history of the area is sure to bring everyone closer together in a fun and exciting way. It would be our pleasure to handle all the logistics while you focus on making beautiful family memories. Find out when our next trips are, or simply let us plan a special adventure with you.