Finding My Moment Of Zen While Canoeing The Grand River


Is there anything better than being alone in a canoe on a slow-moving river. You are surrounded by nothing but Mother Nature. Birds are singing, fish are jumping and a lone River Otter pops its head out of the water to watch you coast by. I would say no and that is why I am jumping at the chance to get on the Grand River with Canoeing The Grand. Only 1.5 hours from downtown Toronto it is the largest river in Southern Ontario that is entirely within Ontario’s borders. Just another reason why the Waterloo Region is one of Southern Ontario’s hidden gems.

Selfie with our canoe guide

Canoeing The Grand is located at 3734 King St East, Kitchener. You can’t miss it, just look for the stack of red canoes on the side of the road. This is where you park your car, sign in, pick up your canoe/kayak/innertube and are transported to your starting off point on the river. This is the beginning and the end point of your adventure.

Canoeing the Grand

Once you’ve parked your car you will head down towards the house located by the water. The office is located right there and this is where you will sign the waivers and grab a lifejacket. No matter what your experience level you can enjoy the Grand River. They have rentals and drop off points that start at 1.5/2 hours all the way to a full 8 hour day that includes some portaging. Leisure or advanced, the choice is yours.

Canoeing the Grand office and registration desk

Once you’ve done the business part of the adventure it is time to board the Van that will transport you to your drop off location. I’m doing a modified route with a guide as I plan on taking lots of pictures.

Van is loaded up with Canoes ready for our adventure

It is a relatively short drive to our drop off spot. While we disembark from the Van our guides unload the canoe and takes it down to the river.

Starting point for our Canoeing the Grand adventure

Guides take the canoe to the river

I normally am more comfortable in a kayak but I am quite excited to try out a canoe. The principles are basically the same except this canoe can hold the three of us very comfortably versus a kayak which is either a single or a tandem. Canoes are great for families and small groups.

Depending on the time of year that you go the water level will vary. The closer to Spring runoffs the higher the water level. By the time I am on the water it is late August so the river is quite low in some spots. It also makes for a slower current, which I find extremely relaxing.

The calm and peaceful Grand River

Magical. That is the only way I can describe the next 2 hours on the Grand River. The water is so calm and peaceful. Aside from the sounds of birds and our own voices we are pretty much alone. I did spot a River Otter but was unable to snap a picture before he ducked under the water. That’s ok because I’m a Zen moment. Photos be damned.

Being on the river really makes you feel present and in the moment. You can paddle non stop if you like but we alternated and just absorbed the views and the tranquillity. If you love bird spotting the Grand River is fantastic. Plenty of Herons to see. Can you see the one in the photo I took below?

Can you spot the Heron?

Even if the weather is perfect and “everyone” is out and about on the Grand River I suspect you will have plenty of alone time where it is just you and the river. As we neared the end of our paddle we encountered our first group of fellow paddlers. A family out on the water. We waved hello but both of us kept a respectful distance so as not to disturb the others enjoyment.

Family of paddlers Canoeing The Grand

And we are back to where we began. Our guides take care of hauling the canoe back up out of the water. All we need to do is drop off our lifejackets, collect anything we left behind and we are done. A truly wonderful way to spend a morning or an afternoon. I bet every time you head out onto the water you will see something new and different. I will be back Canoeing The Grand for sure. Next time I’m going to opt for a 4-hour rental and perhaps pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while I cruise the Grand River.

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Disclosure: General

Thanks to Explore Waterloo Region for their support in hosting my adventures throughout the Waterloo Region. My views and opinions are 100% my own.

About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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