Muskoka River X
2016 OMCKRA Race of the Year
Tim Oliver chasing down "Man Camp" (Andrew Irwin, Aaron Barrett)
Bob and Gywn 2016 MRX
24-Hours of River X
How far can you go in 24 hours?
New for 2017
Fun for Everyone
Muskoka River X
Who doesn't like a little adventure?
(Hustlin' Trees - Paul and Susan Adams)
2016 MRX Coureur des Bois
2014 Muskoka River X Official Documentary
Thanks to Andy Hansen of Pure Muskoka, who directed and produced this professional mini-documentary of the 2014 Muskoka River X. MRX alumnus, Chris Near of Huntsville, helped Andy get to all the spectacular locations along the course. Armed with a drone, multiple GoPro cameras and a DSLR, Andy has captured and created a captivating testament to the challenge of the Muskoka River X and those that are driven to accomplish this epic expedition paddling race.
Choose Your Adventure…
Back for it’s fifth year, the River X crew is pleased to announce an exciting schedule for your 2018 paddling season.
Big East River X: Saturday, May 26, 2018
Our early summer classic, The Big East River X Marathon event may not be the longest event however it still is demanding and challenging. This 40km course follows flat-water rivers of the upper Muskoka River and Big East River with open water paddling on Lake Vernon. The Big East River X Family/Recreation event is intended to be a social, friendly, and fun event for families, inexperienced paddlers, or those just wanting share a day on the water. Being only 9km, the course is achievable for most paddlers as it follows flat-water rivers and ventures only briefly into Lake Vernon. The Big East River X is a great event to step up your training for the Muskoka River X or just to try your hand at paddling and get on the water.
24 Hours of River X: June 16-17, 2018
Back for it’s second year! A 24-hour marathon paddling race where solo, tandem, and relay teams race against the clock to complete as many laps of a 10km course as possible in 24 hours. The 24-Hours of River X. Time is your toughest competition. Not only a marathon paddle race, the Algonquin Outfitters 24-Hours of River X is also about teammates, families and friends coming together as a larger paddling community and sharing the camaraderie of friendly competition. The Algonquin Outfitters 24-Hours of River X is a great weekend of paddle sport racing hosted within a festival-style camp site in the heart of downtown Huntsville. Limited spots available.
Muskoka River X Sprint: September 15, 2018
Back again for 2018 with a brand new format! Starting with the MRX Classic paddlers on Penninsula lake, Sprint Teams will paddle 58km on the North branch of the Muskoka River, through Port Sydney before ending their journey in Bracebridge. For those paddlers who want an MRX experience at a shorter distance, not needing to tackle the upriver-overnight Stages 3 and 4, or wanting to race shorter under-17’ C2 Rec canoes, the MRX Sprint is a great way to start your career in expedition paddle racing. Limited Spots Available.
Muskoka River X Classic: September 15-16, 2018
The race that started it all. 2016 OMCKRA Race of the Year. The classic is back for it’s fifth year to push teams to their limit. BIG NEWS! We’re changing things up for 2018. The entire course will be run in reverse direction. Same great course made into a completely new experience. Teams paddle two rivers systems, three lakes and 20 portages for a total of 130km in less than 24 hours. The Classic is completely self-supported. That’s right, no outside assistance, no support teams and no re-supplies. Considered the toughest single day canoe race in the world, the MRX Classic is not your traditional marathon-paddling event. Challenge your self. Your expedition is waiting ~ The 2018 Muskoka River X Classic. Limited Spots Available.
The Muskoka River watershed is a vast area: Algonquin Park east to Georgian Bay, the northern lakes around Huntsville to the southern waters around Gravenhurst. Historically, the Muskoka River watershed was part of the vast territory of the Algonquin First Nations who lived on these lands dating back at least 8000 years. Shortly after Champlain’s arrival in the early 1600’s the Europeans began making voyages into the interior regions of the watershed, often guided by the Algonquin peoples. As the fur trade developed the Algonquin become a critical provider of resources to the Europeans, resulting in traders reaching deeper into their lands. The competition for resources between European nations and the provision of firearms to their First Nation allies drew the Algonquin people into armed conflicts, resulting in severe losses. Ultimately, with the expropriation of lands and the use of treaties the Europeans effectively displaced the Algonquin off their traditional homeland and onto the tiny reserves that remain today.
In the 1800’s the lands around what is know today as Muskoka (North/South Muskoka River, Lake Muskoka, Lake of Bays area) were occupied by three separate First Nations families; Bigwin Family, Yellowhead Family, and Menominee Family. Each spring, the families would travel into the watershed to their summer settlements for farming, fishing and hunting. The spring and fall routes of the Bigwin family included paddling the South branch of the Muskoka River from Lake Muskoka (Bracebridge) to Lake of Bays (Baysville) and then east to their settlement at Cedar Narrows (Dorset).
Following the War of 1812 and under the care of First Nation guides British expeditions began making their way into the Muskoka watershed with the goal of finding water routes not vulnerable to American attack. Three initial explorations between 1819 and 1826 occurred but it was not until Lt. Henry Briscue’s 1826 expedition that the Muskoka River was first documented by Europeans. This expedition followed traditional canoe routes (see Bigwin Family map), traveling north from Washago/Severne River into the Algonquin Highlands via the South Muskoka and Oxtongue Rivers, up to Big Porcupine Lake (Algonquin Park) and east to the Madawaska River. After several more expeditions occurred throughout 1827 the British Military eventually deemed the route not appropriate for the construction of a canal. In 1829 Alexander Shirreff began a privately funded expedition to build a canal west from the Ottawa River to Georgian Bay. Although Shirreff did not find a route appropriate for the construction of a canal, he did chart a vast inland waterway of navigable lakes and rivers. David Thompson led the last and best-known European expedition in 1837. These expeditions were unsuccessful in locating a canal route but they did bring attention to the Muskoka watershed leading to further European expansion into First Nation territories.
The era of steam ships in Muskoka began when Alexander Cockburn launched the Wenonah in 1866, traveling Lake Muskoka north from Gravenhurst up the Muskoka River to Bracebridge. Other notable ships that traveled this route include the Nipissing, launched in 1887 and the Sequwin in 1925. The northern waters of the Muskoka River watershed saw steam ship travel begin in 1877 with the launch of the Northern. This steamer route originated from Port Sydney, where Mary Lake empties into the North Muskoka River, traveling north to Huntsville. Other notable steamers that traveled this route include the Florence in 1884, the Gem, and the SS. Joe (1900). The route from Port Sydney to Huntsville was made possible with the construction of the Huntsville Lock between 1873-1875.
Steam ship travel on Lake of Bays began in 1878 when Alexander Cockburn sold his steamer, the Waubamik, to Joseph Huckins who then renamed it the Dean. From Baysville, the steamer traveled Lake of Bays servicing ports of call such as Dwight, Portage, and the ever-increasing grand resorts. Other notable steamers on the Lake of Bays include the Helna (1884), Empress Victoria (1894), Excelsior, Erastus Wiman, Phoenix (1901), and the Hamilton H. The Huntsville Navigation Company was started in 1884 by George March with the launch of the Mary Louise. The dredging of the canal between Fairy Lake and Peninsula Lake between 1886-1888 allowed steam ships to travel the full system of lakes of northern Muskoka including Peninsula, Fairy, and Vernon. With the canal, ships such as Algonquin (1906-1927) and the Ramona transported goods and people from Portage to Huntsville and all points in-between. They also supported the development of Deerhurst Resort in 1896, the grand resort of the Huntsville area. With the development of the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Transportation company in 1895, the wagon and coach link between Lake of Bays and Peninsula Lake was eventually replaced by the small gauge railroad, the Portage Railway, which operated between 1904 and 1959.
It is the transportation routes throughout the original territories of the First Nations peoples and the routes of canal expeditions, steamers, and railroads that the Muskoka River X will follow.
References and Links
ASI [Archaeological Services Inc.] 1994 Report of the Master Plan of Archaeological Resources of the District of Muskoka and the Wahta Mohawks. 3 vols. On file at the District Municipality of Muskoka office.
Franks, C.E.S. 1985 David Thompson’s Explora ons of the Muskoka and Madawaska Rivers. In Nastawgan: the Canadian North by Canoe and Snowshoe, edited by B.W. Hodgins and M. Hobbs, pp 24-37. Betelgeuse Books, Toronto.
Long, Gary. (1989). This River. The Muskoka. The Boston Press: Erin, Ont. ISBN 1-55046-012-9
Tatley, Richard. (1983). The Steamboat Era in the Muskokas. The Boston Pess: Erin, Ont. ISBN 0-919822-50-9 (vol.1)