Nature is my Passion

Posted in Daily Thoughts on December 17, 2011 by Jim Davis

Nature is my passion

Nature and photography go hand in hand for myself and many other landscape photographers. Ontario is home to approximately 250,000 bodies of water that are classified as lakes, the exact number is unknown.

One of the most intimate ways to explore these lakes is by canoe. Getting off the beaten path away from civilization these days can be a challenge at times and the canoe is a great way accomplish this.

Pictured below is my restored 1956 Peterborough Minetta cedar/canvas canoe. Anyone who has paddled a cedar/canvas canoe appreciates it’s atheistic’s and romantic charm. Nothing beats the sound of water lapping off the bow as it gently glides through the water during an evening paddle. In the 55 year history of this canoe, I often wonder what water it has seen and the stories locked within it’s wood.

Photographing these canoes in nature is a pleasure, showing the relationship between the material used to build it, the people that developed it’s design and the purpose it was meant for. We now use these canoes for pleasure and a way to get away from it all.

I use this canoe to rediscover the beauty of nature, for nature is my passion.

Temagami Teaser

Posted in Trip Reports on July 13, 2010 by Jim Davis

Well I’m back from my trip and had an excellent time. There were some hard days and some easy days but the beautiful ruggedness of Temagami made it all worth while.

It will take some time before I can get through all the photo’s and video, so until then I offer this teaser while I get a full trip report together.


Jim at Center Falls

Blueberries at Center Falls

Center Falls on the Lady Evelyn River, North Channel

Preliminary Temagami Solo Trip Route Plan

Posted in Trip Reports on June 15, 2010 by Jim Davis

Below is a route plan I will be doing in one week, leaving June 25  for approx 2 weeks. All camp locations are tentative and will be adjusted when I get to each place depending on scenery and weather etc. This trip can be shortened or lengthened depending on conditions. Total distance traveled will be between 165-200km depending on side trips.

Mowats landing
Lady Evelyn Lake
Sugar Lake
Lady Evelyn to Sucker Gut
Tupper Lake to Maple Mountain
Lady Evelyn River North Channel
Lady Evelyn River South Channel
Diamond Lake
Wakimika Lake to Wakimika River
Obabika Lake
Chee Skon Lake
Bob Lake
Diamond lake
Lady Evelyn Lake to Obisaga Narrows
Mowats Landing

Here is a link to my GPS tracking page to watch my progress. Tracking will begin on Friday June 25th.

Spot GPS Tracking Progress

Click image for blowup

Preserving and Taking Care

Posted in Gear on May 30, 2010 by Jim Davis

Recently I posted about refinishing my solo canoe I just acquired, she looks and performs amazing. The dilemma was how to use the canoe for tripping yet still maintain and keep her looking good. The first obvious way is to not run her into shore and avoid hitting rocks and logs etc. Second was keeping the interior clean from sand and dirt and reduce the amount of wear caused by putting in and removing packs as well as from myself.

Protecting the inside is just as important as the outside

So this is my solution to keep the interior finish clean and help reduce wear while tripping.

14oz canvas which I sewed velcro straps, then made four sub ribs from western red cedar to hold everything in place while portaging, I may remove some ribs if I feel they are not needed. My main Duluth Monarch 4 pack will go behind me while my LowePro photo backpack will be right in front of me for easy access.

It takes about a minute to remove and about 2 minutes to put back in, the only time I really need to remove it will be for pictures where the canoe will be included.

It may seem like overkill but after years of use I’m sure it will pay off.

Temagami Trip Report May 2010

Posted in Trip Reports on May 29, 2010 by Jim Davis

Day 1

Well we woke up at 3am, packed the truck, ate breakfast and off by 4 am. We stopped off and picked up 3 dozen worms for the weekend, more on the worms later. We had a pretty good drive up missing most traffic through the Toronto area and clear highways from there. The boys slept most of the way up and missed the moose running through a field just south of Trout Creek. Turns out we forgot the dried pepperoni in the fridge at home so we stopped of at Gramp’s in Temagami and pick up some beef jerky fueled up with gas.

Had to stop off and get the standard tourist photo at the Temagami sign

Our put in point was Mowat’s Landing, we arrived at about 10:15 am, got everything unloaded and off by 10:45 for the short paddle on the Montreal River to the Mattawapika Dam 270m portage. Portage was quick and easy and off on the Lady Evelyn river in no time. Along the river we saw a family of Otters up on the banks, there was maybe 7-8 of them some young, some very large, larger than I’m use to seeing. We also saw in the distance what appeared to be a Peregrine Falcon. We came across a bunch of moose bones scattered about one area on the river bank.

Seamus holding the leg bones for size reference

Easton with the Skull

This picture shows the low water levels this year, the Mattawapika dam was closed tight to retain as much water as possible in an effort to bring levels back up.

We lucked out heading into Lady Evelyn Lake with no headwind making our paddle to the campsite much more relaxing

15.8 km to the campsite leading into Whitefish Bay took 5hr 20 min. Once there we setup camp and prepared for some fishing. This is the big base camp tent we use when there isn’t much porting involved, it makes for a comfortable camp.

View from campsite north out to Lady Evelyn Lake

So we have supper and get ready to head across the bay for some fishing. We discover the worms we bought were in an advanced state of decomposition, not happy about that! I salvage what we cpould but no luck other than a small perch that was released, no Walleye like we had hoped for. Back to camp and some time lounging around then off to bed.

Day 2

The plan today was to head into the Muskego River for some Brook trout fishing, After breakfast we headed off into the wind on the 10km round trip. Once into the bay leading to the Muskego the wind was not an issue but the water level was, rocks and logs just below the surface kept us alert until we could paddle no more. Along the way we did see many Merganser ducks and a pair of Sandhill Cranes which make quite the racket. Because of the low water we had to hike into the fishing area, we brought everything we needed for a day along the river and hopefully a shore lunch of Brookies.

Easton working the pool at the falls

I have to say that The Muskego River is a very beautiful place to fish, the waterfalls although water volume is down now, is an amazing place to hang out. We did catch a few trout but not as many as hoped for, just enough to tease the taste buds.

Some wolf tracks along the banks of the Muskego River

After a hot sunny day in the bush we headed back to camp to cook up the trout we caught, not a full meal but oh so good.

View of shoreline in the early evening, note the black line at shore showing previous water levels

Looking into Whitefish Bay from the campsite

The setting sun over Lady Evelyn Lake

Day 3

A lazy start to the day and fresh cooked Cranberry Cinnamon bannock.

So we decided today we would break camp and head back home, we had a great time even though fishing was not as we had hoped, the worm issue was partly to blame, we did try lure’s but nothing seemed to take. Luckily we had a tail wind most of the paddle out and rigged up a makeshift sail, the trip back took 3hr 29 min. I had hoped to see more wildlife but noticed due to the low water levels, what normally would have been good moose feeding grounds along the lake’s edge was for the most part dead and brown. As a bonus we did see 3 cow moose on the drive home.

I will be back this way at the end of June for a 2 week 180km solo trip. Hopefully I will make up for the fishing and have more time to focus on photography.

I am in the process of putting together a short video of this trip so check back soon!


Transformation Complete

Posted in Daily Thoughts, Gear on May 16, 2010 by Jim Davis

Just finished work on my recently purchased solo cedar canoe. This is a 1995 Canoe-1 made in Ontario, Canada. Dimensions are 15′ length, 28″ beam and 42lbs. White cedar ribs, western red cedar planking, spruce inwales, cherry outwales and trim with Birdseye maple deck’s.

before photo by previous owner

I went with red as for me this has the most visual impact when photographing in the wilderness as well the iconic image of Bill Mason and his red Chestnut.

Photo taken on a recent trip to the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough. Note the painting on the ground under the canoe, that is a Bill Mason original that you see him painting in the movie WaterWalker

First task was to sand and repair all minor cracking in the paint and filler on the hull. For this I used Interlux Watertight 2 part epoxy marine filler.

Once this was done the hull was primed and sanded again.

So 3 coats of paint with wet sanding between coats and the final finish applied, compounded and waxed. the wood was also refinished and waxed to remove most nicks and off colour wood due to exposure. Here she is in all her glory

The first trip will be to Temagami in June for a 2 week solo trip, before then I will take her out for a few dry run’s and get use to how she handles and carries a load.

Photo In Canoe Magazine

Posted in Daily Thoughts on May 12, 2010 by Jim Davis

I had uploaded a few photo’s to the CanoeRoots magazine website gallery from our family canoe trip to Algonquin Park last year. I was contacted by the editor if they could use a couple of photo’s in their upcoming issue’s. I just received confirmation that the first has been published in their latest edition.

This photo in the upper right corner is of my youngest son Seamus fishing on a rock, he didn’t catch anything on that attempt but he sure had fun. Next we are heading up to Temagami on the May long weekend for some more canoeing and fishing, hopefully we’ll have more luck this time!

Current issue cover below.

I have another photo which will be featured in their CanoeScape section in the next issue.

To read the digital copy of this magazine please click here

Mother’s Day Surprise

Posted in Daily Thoughts on May 9, 2010 by Jim Davis

Ok,   Teresa, the boys and myself headed out to my parents Sunday to spend some time with my mother. They have 36 acres of beautiful Carolinian forest, with a creek and ravine. Off we went on a hike around the trials that weave through the forest, I opted to leave the big camera home and just brought my small point&shoot… boy what a mistake! So on our hike we spot a white tail doe, off she goes running through the forest, tail straight up. 5 minutes later we come to the back boundary of the property and stop and enjoy the view and sounds, I look down to the forest floor and what do I see??

A fawn not more than a few days old and approx. 18″ at the shoulders

I slowly and quietly had everyone stop and look to my right, takes them about 20 seconds of looking to see this little guy nestled in the leaves motionless. After a minute we slowly back off and hide behind tree’s and wait. Eventually when the fawn feels safe, we see movement and he peers around, he slowly rises up and makes his getaway.  Nature in all it’s innocence.

keep your eye’s on the center of the video. Not the best quality but priceless.     

Happy Mother’s Day!

Newly Acquired Canoe

Posted in Gear on April 28, 2010 by Jim Davis

I recently purchased another canoe, why you ask when I have 3 in the basement? Well I love canoes both old and new. I have a 17’4 Langford Prospector Kevlar 50lbs, a Wenonah Advantage Kevlar skin coat solo canoe 32lbs and a 1956ish Peterborough Minetta cedar canvas 65lbs.

The “new” canoe is a 1995 Canoe-1 solo cedar canvas built by Michael Shumaker sp? (not sure on the spelling yet) This canoe weigh’s in at 42lbs. The canoe was in very good condition with the exception of some nicks and finish wear on the wood trim where the wood was off colour and a few marks and cracks in the hull paint.

The information I received from the seller was it was built for the late Bill Swift Sr. of the Swift canoe company in Ontario, Canada.

Here is a before purchase photo by previous owner

As you can see this canoe was built with attention to detail. With Cherry outwales, spruce inwales, Cherry seats and bird’s eye maple deck, everything is a tight fit. The ribs are white cedar with red cedar planking to help lighten the canoe, the wood was covered with Dacron as apposed to canvas to further reduce weight. I have begun the minor refinishing of this beauty by sanding the wood and applying a new finish. The hull was sanded to smooth out any imperfections and filled any cracks in the surface with Interlux Watertite 2 part epoxy marine filler. The new colour will be red.

Check back for updates on my progress, more photo’s will be added soon.

photo’s by previous owner

Hand Crafted Paddle

Posted in Gear on April 26, 2010 by Jim Davis

I have a lot of  black cherry wood that I make flutes from. This wood came from my Fathers property that we had milled and kiln dried, items I make from this wood will be very special. Last year I traced out a pattern for a ottertail style paddle which I love for solo lake canoeing. The way the blade travels through the water for many strokes is amazing, a very relaxing paddle to use.  More on solo paddle strokes I use later

Cherry wood is a very nice hardwood and makes a great paddle, as you can see by the grain patterns it shows very well. The paddle was traced to a board of hand selected wood. I rough cut the shape on a band saw then began by hand planning it down to the desired thickness. Once I felt the paddle was balanced and of proper weight I began rough sanding with 100 grit, then 220 grit and finally 400 grit. Details were burned in then one coat of oil was applied followed by 2 more with light scuffing with 000 3m pads before the final finish.

This paddle has been created for my wife Teresa

Close-up of details

There is something special about an item that you make for yourself or someone close to you, if cared for it will last a lifetime… to be handed down to the next generation.

In Spirit