Canoeing Duffins Creek In Ontario
What a delightful way to spend a day! Canoeing up Duffins Creek from Rotary Park on the edge of Lake Ontario to farm country far above Highway 401 really was our cup of tea.
Bob and I began our paddle at the canoe and kayak launch at Rotary Park in the town of Ajax, Ontario, on the east side of the Greater Toronto Area.
The canoe/kayak boat ramp is on the east side of Duffins Creek where it flows directly into the Lake. Bob and I headed north up the Creek to see how far we could go. Overall, the paddle upstream and back to the boat ramp took 6 hours.
About 30 minutes was spent launching and loading the canoe with cameras, lunch, safety and emergency gear. Then it was time to look for wildlife.
We were very excited to be undertaking this first-time canoe on Duffins Creek. It was the following year that concerted efforts were necessary to protect and save portions of the Duffins Creek wetlands from destruction by planned development.
It was there along the creek that major plans had been made to destroy parts of the wetlands and build a large distribution centre and parking lot for a major North American store chain.
Fortunately, massive public outcry and the efforts of environmental organisations like Ontario Nature, Environmental Defence, Ecojustice, and the Save Duffin’s Creek local citizens group helped convince the major store chain to abandon building the centre and stopped the governments plans on this provincially significant wetlands. In the end, the Lower Duffins Creek Wetlands were finally protected.
During our maiden canoe on this waterway, it became evident to Bob and me that this creek and its wetlands are host to a good variety of birds and wildlife.
We barely got started when I heard a Marsh Wren singing in the bulrushes along the Creek.
Yellow Warblers were weaving in and out of the cattails, too.
This photo sums up why we love paddling on a river or creek.
With close proximity to riverbanks and quiet waters, there is always a good chance of spotting movement in the overhanging trees and along the shore.
The usual rattling calls of Belted Kingfishers taunted us from hidden locations before they burst from the tree cover to fly further upstream.
A Gray Catbird popped into view.
And not to be overlooked was a male Northern Cardinal in all his glory.
Bob and I are kept busy scanning our environs as we paddle.
It was nice to see a couple of other people paddling along Duffin’s Creek below Highway 401.
The intriguing thing about canoeing on a river or creek is the fact that each bend promises a surprise as you round the corner.
This Great Blue Heron gives some indication of the depth of water.
Oops! We were disturbing its prospects of catching a fish.
There was no shortage of waterfowl. Common Mergansers were sharing the bounty of the Creek.
This was just an idyllic way to spend a day!
The passage of time is reflected in these tangled tree roots.
A sudden croak alerted us to a Common Raven nearby.
Northern Rough-winged Swallows seemed to be undeterred by our approaching canoe.
Many Northern Rough-winged Swallows were flitting about in the bare branches of this tree.
As the depth of water in Duffins Creek grew more shallow, it required some effort to keep going further north.
A couple of times, Bob had to walk the canoe through shallow sections. Mindful of the potential for nails and broken bottles, we always wear swim shoes to protect our feet.
The day was scorching hot, so the swirl of water around our legs was refreshing.
There was the occasional obstacle in the upper reaches of Duffins Creek. Nothing that stopped us, though.
Patches of still water attracted a bevy of birds.
American Goldfinches having a bath.
A sandy point was our chosen spot for a picnic.
A better place to stretch our legs could not be found.
Lots of bathing beauties entertained us while we ate.
Making our way south again, we soon passed under the Highway 401 bridges.
Bob and I were able to add one more species to our list of sightings that day, a Spotted Sandpiper.
Patrolling the sandy shore, the Spotted Sandpiper came up with lots of tidbits from amongst the rocks.
Bob stealthily manipulated the canoe while I tried for photos of the constantly moving Sandpiper.
The pedestrian bridge at the mouth of Duffins Creek soon came back into view at the end of our canoe trip.
We are grateful that Duffins Creek and its wetlands were saved from destruction by the Save Duffins Creek Movement. It makes for a great day of paddling close to home. For more information about the Duffins Creek Wetlands, checkout this link to a report from Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean