If you’ve already explored the superb canoeing in Whiteshell and Nopiming provincial parks or want real wilderness, then you’re spoilt for choice in Manitoba. Much of the best water is in the eastern half of the province in the remote Atikaki Provincial Wilderness Park, which has impressive stands of thick forest, several ancient pictograph sites as well as moose, timber wolves, coyotes and black bears. Its dramatic Bloodvein River to Lake Winnipeg is particularly outstanding, with rapids, falls and wild water balanced by peaceful drifts through quiet lakes and wild-rice marshes. In the far north the Hayes, Seal and Deer rivers all drain into Hudson Bay, home to easily spotted Beluga whales, which makes for outstanding subarctic trips.
All the above are only for experienced, skilled and self-reliant backcountry canoeists. You’ll need to organize floatplane transportation and plan carefully using information from Paddle Manitoba (paddle.mb.ca) and Manitoba Conservation ( gov.mb.ca/conservation) and purchase topographic maps – available from Canada Map Sales, Land Information Centre, 1007 Century St, Winnipeg (204 945 6666, 1 877 627 7226, canadamapsales.com). Several outfitters offer trips that can spare you some preparation. Northern Soul (204 878 3570, 1 866 425 9430, northernsoul.ca) and Wilderness Spirit (t 204 452 7049, 1 866 287 1591, wildernessspirit.com) both run trips to Hudson Bay and on several Atikaki rivers. These start at $400 for three days, but cost up to $4500 for a full-blown two-week adventure on the Seal River, the most remote of all.