Big East River X
The smile says it all.
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 a third year, the River X crew is pleased to announce an exciting schedule for your 2015 paddling season.
Big East River X: Saturday, June 18, 2016
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.
Muskoka River X Sprint: September 17, 2016
New for 2016! Starting in Huntsville with the MRX Classic paddlers, Sprint Teams will paddle 80km over Stage 1 and 2 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 17-18, 2016
After receiving many recognitions in it’s first year and pushing teams to their limits in it’s second, the world’s longest single day expedition paddling race is back for its third running. 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 2016 Muskoka River X Classic. Limited Spots Available.
Muskoka River X Coureur des Bois: September 16-18, 2016
Now in it’s second year! The River X crew created this expansion course to the Muskoka River X Classic in 2015. Building on the heritage of the canal expeditions of the 1800’s, the Coureur des Bois will challenge even the most experienced expedition and marathon paddlers. Teams will travel along the expedition routes of these early explorers as they traverse Algonquin Park east to west from Whitney to Oxtongue Lake. After an overnight layover at Oxtonque and using only the supplies that are carried with them, teams will then merge with the MRX Classic on Lake of Bays on day two. Paddling the full north-south length of Lake of Bays the Coureur des Bois’ will complete stages 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the MRX Classic before returning to Huntsville. At approximately 220km in 48 hour or less the Coureur des Bois is entirely self supported with no re-supplies. Challenge yourself in what promises to be one of the ultimate expedition paddling races in the world ~ The 2016 Muskoka River X Coureur des Bois! Limited spots available.
The Muskoka River watershed is a vast area stretching from Algonquin Park, east to Georgian Bay. From the northern lakes of Muskoka around Huntsville to the southern waters around Gravenhurst. Historically, the Muskoka River watershed was part of the vast territory of the Algonquin First Nations. It remained pristine and uncharted until war broke out between the British and Americans.
Following the War of 1812, British expeditions began making their way into this previously uncharted territory with the goal of finding water routes not vulnerable to American attack. Two initial explorations in 1819 by Lt. Joseph Portlock and Lt. James Catty made their way into the Muskoka watershed. A third exploration by Lt. William Marlow and William Smith occurred in 1826. It was not until Lt. Henry Briscue’s 1826 expedition that the Muskoka River was first recorded in written form. This expedition, traveling north from the Severne River eventually made their way by canoe into the Algonquin Highlands via the South Muskoka and Oxtonge 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 another expedition, funded by a private company, to build a canal west from the Ottawa River to Georgian Bay. Shirreff made his way along the Petawawa River to Tom Thompson Lake (Algonquin Park) and west to the Oxtonge and South Muskoka Rivers. Although Shirreff did not find a route appropriate for the construction of a canal, he did find a vast inland waterway of navigable lakes and rivers. The last and best-known canal expedition was led by David Thompson in 1837.
Although these expeditions were unsuccessful in locating a canal route, they did bring attention to the Muskoka watershed, resulting in expansion into this area with railroads, logging, frontier towns, steam ships and grand resorts; all that continue to this day.
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 Segwun 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 the flagship Algonquin (1906-1927) and the Ramona transported goods and people from Portage to Huntsville, and all points 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 these First Nations routes into their hunting and fishing grounds, and the routes of canal expeditions, steamers, and railroads, that teams will travel along.
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)
Historical References and Links