The following was sent to me by a reader about a canoe trip in the St. Lawrence River in 2004.
I contacted you a few weeks ago requesting any info you could give about canoeing in the Richelieu and St. Lawrence Rivers, as I and a friend were planning a little trip from the Montreal area to Quebec City. You were nice enough to provide information, as well as to point me to other potential sources of information.
Well, the trip has been done - more or less. We departed on the Richelieu River in St. Hilaire, and were in Sorel/Tracy, where the Richelieu meets the St. Lawrence River, within 24 hours (about 10 hours of paddling). There is a lock at St. Ours due to a sudden drop of perhaps 5 feet in the river (the only lock on the trip). We paid our $17 for the 17 foot canoe, and were on our way.
At Sorel/Tracy, several factors (thunder storms all around us - being in an aluminum canoe, the general annoying nature of my friend's behavior, too many damn motor boats, etc.) helped me to make the decision to abandon the voyage. I must say, frankly, that I rather detest motor boats. Aiding this dislike is the general indifference which motor boat people have for canoes - would it really kill them to slow down for 14 seconds when they pass a canoe?In any case, I was done. I concluded that it might have been a very pleasant trip 200 years ago - when motor boats did not factor into the equation.
My friend continued the journey alone. He has also climbed Montmorency Falls (in the winter, naturally, when it was ice) without any rope or safety gear - 6 or 7 stories up - so, he's rather nuts. He arrived in Quebec City 5 days after our departure from St. Hilaire. He said that Lac St. Pierre was surprisingly shallow, with reeds a long, long way out from shore. He also said that there was surprisingly little current in the St. Lawrence throughout. We're used to seeing a fairly strong current in the St. Lawrence here in Montreal - but it apparently calms down quite a bit once away from Montreal.
So, if someone is thinking of doing this trip, you can tell them that Montreal to Quebec City takes about 5 days in a canoe.