Working Hard to Safeguard Paddling Assets for All Canadians

All about Whitewater

All about Whitewater
A Blog about River Preservation and the need to protect our free flowing whitewater resources

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kipawa River Information

The Kipawa River is considered to be one of the best intermediate class rivers is North Easter North America.

Base of Grand Chute: anticipating Elbow Rapid

16 km (10 miles)
Difficulty: Class III-IV river rating, Class III-VI individual rapids (volume dependent)
Gradient: 30 feet/mile Volume: 20 cms (740 cfs) to 357 cms (13,209 cfs)

Getting There:

The Kipawa River is located in northwestern Quebec, on Highway 101, between the towns of Temiscaming and Ville Marie. It is a 16 km (10 mile) run of the river from the village of Laniel to Lake Temiscamingue.

Put-Ins and Take-Outs:
Road access at six locations include, the Dam at Laniel, a roadside park at Hwy 101, Broken Bridge rapid , Kipawa River Tral at Picnic, the Grande Chute (some walking required on a good trail), and at the take-out next to Hollywood rapid at the Kipawa River Lodge owners Scott and Pat Sorenson.


The Kipawa River is one of the best, intermediate white water runs in eastern Canada. The first exploratory river runs on the Kipawa were made in 1971 in an open canoe by Jose Mediavilla and Joseph Jacob, paddlers from Rouyn. Runnable at all levels, the lower Kipawa does not get above a Class III, with the exception of Pete's Dragon, the middle three drops in Hollywood rapid (a tight technical Class IV) run only at low to medium levels.

There are 16 named rapids. For ease of reference we talk about the river in three sections:
- Section I...The Upper (Dam to Highway Park)
- Section II...The Middle (Highway Park to Island Rapid)
- Section III...The Lower (Log Jam to Hollywood)

The Dam (Class III all levels):
The flood control dam under the highway bridge in Laniel used to be safely, legally and signficantly very runnable at any level above 120 cms. It has been rendered unrunnable by recent dam refurbishments. It was the loss of this dam sluice run which was the focus of the Judicial Review commenced by Les Amis in 2006. Sorry folks, we lost. Put in below dam on river left, near overlook.

Rock and Roll (Class III-IV+ level dependent)

Don’t be embarrassed to walk the easy portage around Rock and Roll on river right. It’s routinely walked by boaters who don't like its steep rocky character. Typically enter right of centre, just to the left of a couple of very small holes reacting to a rock shelf near the surface. Move right then straighten out to run a narrow deep water channel that passes to the right of all the big holes out in the middle. Move left, back out to the centre of the drop as soon as you pass the big holes.
Alternative run at levels from very low up to 140 or 150 cms, is to enter just left of centre and work left down a slide drop so that you work to the far left of the rapid about half way through it, then run the bottom half hugging the left shoreline through a steep, abrupt hole. This is an easy run at low water when you can actually eddy out half way through. It gets progressively tougher the more water there is.

Tumbling Dice (Class III all levels):
Around the bend past Rock and Roll the river narrows a bit signaling the start of a long easy rapid called Tumbling Dice. The second portion of the rapid has a very sweet surfing wave called the Two-Four Wave developing above 120 cms and at its best at levels between 140 and 220.
Tumbling Dice dog legs left and then into a series of easy waves that end with the beginning of a stretch of flat water that runs past a roadsite park area on Hwy 101. The park is no longer maintained. It was perfect for camping, very private, lots of parking, no camping fees, but a fence is up

Buttonhook (Class III-IV+ level dependent)
At low water, Buttonhook is where you get your first real look at the Kipawa's rocky river bed. At high water, people who aren't comfortable in big pushy stuff, call this rapid a Class V and portage river right. At low water, pick your way down.
At levels above 80 run the classic line, start left of centre, move almost immediately to the centre, move right towards the bottom of the upper section to get to the big eddy on the corner. Run the bottom section starting right, then working left at lower water, and staying right at higher water.

Huey, Duey and Louie (Class III all levels):
Three little drops, sometimes called Sex, Lies and Videotape are easy. There is a small play wave on the left in the second drop.

Broken Bridge (Class III all levels):
Beneath the logging access road bridge is a glassy 3-boat wave that just won't quit. Enter from either side. Attainment may be difficult. The wave is surfable between 80 cms and 220.

Island Rapid (Class III all levels):
Below Broken bridge the river splits around an island. River left is easier. River right is runnable at all levels but gets a little rocky at low water and requires more care. The river flattens out for 500 m. after Island Rapid

Useful Information
Centre de santé Sainte-Famille
22, rue Notre-Dame Nord, C.P. 2000
Ville-Marie, Québec, J0Z 3W0, (819) 629-2420
Centre d'urgence

Camp 3 saisons inc.
2011, route 101, C.P 39
Laniel, (Québec), J0Z 2K0
(819) 634-2582, 627-3737 (Été/Summer)

Camp de la Baie Smith
2050, chemin du Ski
Laniel, (Québec), J0Z 2K0
(819) 627-9858, 634-2425
1991, route 101, Laniel, Quebec, J0Z 2K0
fax: 819-634-2776

Log Jam (Class III all levels):
The river steepens here. The upstream side of Log Jam Island is undercut.
Run with the main flow on the left side of Log Jam Island. Pick a line just right of centre and stay on it.

Zipper (Class III-IV level dependent):
Home of the biggest wave on the river run with the main flow around on the left side of the river or portage river right. Around the corner, a shelf forms a hole on the right side of the river and a wave on the left. The wave is sometimes rolling back on itself but is always runnable. 175 cms - big. above 220 cms - huge. 315 cms -really big. You tend to get pushed left where the shore is rocky. If the wave looks pushy, hit it moving right for best results.

Upper White Pine (Class III all levels):
This is a series of corners and waves that is a small but very popular surfing spot.

Lower White Pine (Class III all levels):
Also know as Cattle Prod, this is a short steep drop that is actually a five-foot ledge at low water. Good fun with diagonal waves and lots of quick action. Run left down the chute.

Picnic (Class III-VI level dependent):
Picnic, can be a problem above 100 cms. At 357 cms it can recirculate trees. Portage river right. At low water, pick a line and go. At medium to high water run from centre pushing right to hit right in the corner where the reactionary wave coming off the shore, joins with the edge of the big hole. Or run far left, careful for the ledge hole below.

Le Grande Chute recently run by the team of Brent Cooper, Mike McCubbin and Ben Aylsworth at low water. (But, don't even think about it and portage river right). Its a 90-foot waterfall with three Class IV-V drops above it that we have run at low water. The walk is on the right. At low water there is a tall shelf rock at the bottom of the waterfall that is used for diving into the deep flat pool below. WARNING: scout for debris collecting below the falls before diving.

Elbow (Class III-IV+):
Below the Grande Chute is Elbow Rapid. At 130 cms a large hole develops at river right at the elbow where all the water is going.. At low water, just pick your way down. At medium to high water, start right and work immediately to the centre, and then to the left as you hit the corner. The objective is to make the big eddy on the left side of the river. The bottom section of Elbow (175m) is straight forward with waves and small holes. Bush whack river right to portage.

Hollywood (Class IV-VI level dependent):
Show time! Hollywood is a tough run, and unfriendly to swimmers. Portage river right. At low water the rapid is runnable top to bottom. At all levels you can run from the top to take out above Pete's Dragon keeping in mind that you will need to get your boat into a small eddy river right in solid Class III+ water above a very serious drop. If you are not comfortable with that, best to do the carry right around the top of Hollywood. When running remind yourself to stay right, and make the eddy before starting out.

The middle section, Pete's Dragon, has three drops. Run the first drop through a small chute on the right, through a small but steep hole that can mess with your line a bit (the tail of the Dragon) so most skirt the edge of this thing rather than punch it. Immediately follow the second drop. Run up onto the rocky pillow on the right then let your boat turn a bit and slip slide sideways to the left. You end up dropping down and bracing left onto a curling reactionary then right on the rocky slide in the last half of the second drop (the belly of the Dragon).
Typically try to end up in the big eddy on river right. The 10-12 foot fall is next (the mouth of the Dragon). The fall is less of a plunge the further right you go, it has been run everywhere up to about 75 cms. The choice is yours.
At higher water take the short walk, river left, around Pete's Dragon, then back in your boat for the bottom half of Hollywood. Ferry out to the centre and then to the left side of the river. This is a challenging run in big swirling, churning water with surprisingly energetic waves in it. Run down the left side at the bottom, when most of the water is trying to talk you into going right where a dynamic large hole, Davey Jones Locker, has surprized a lot of paddlers.

Association touristique regionale de l'Abitibi-Temiscaminque
phone - Toll Free: 800-808-0706

Chalets Diane enr.
1948, route 101, Laniel, (Québec), J0Z 2K0, (819) 634-2576

Centre de santé de Témiscaming

180, rue Anvik, C. P. 760 Témiscaming (Québec) J0Z 3R0, Tél. : (819) 627-3385 Téléc. : (819) 627-3629

No comments:

Canadian Rivers

Canadian Rivers
I speak for river users too!

The Queen is not amused!

The Queen is not amused!

The Damned Dam - 2005 -

The Damned Dam - 2005 -
22nd Annual Kipaw Rally has modest turnout. - 23rd does better

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

Whitewater Ontario

Whitewater Ontario
Working Hard to Protect Canada's Paddling Resources

Whitewater Ontario - Mission Statement

It is Whitewater Ontario’s mission to support the whitewater paddling community through the promotion, development and growth of the sport in its various disciplines. We accomplish this through the development of events, resources, clubs, and programs for personal and athletic development, regardless of skill level or focus, to ensure a high standard of safety and competency; We advocate safe and environmentally responsible access and use of Ontario’s rivers. Whitewater Ontario is the sport governing body in the province, and represents provincial interests within the national body Whitewater Canada and the Canadian Canoe Association

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican
If Hydro Quebec is not actively pursuing Tabaret what is that bite out of Opemican for?

Kipawa Dam: After

Kipawa Dam: After
Laniel Dam at 2006 Rally

Where is the Kipawa

Where is the Kipawa
Kipawa flows into lake Temiskamingue, running from Kipawa Lake, under hwy 101 in Quebec

Kipawa Dam

Kipawa Dam
laniel dam at 2004 River Rally

Tabaret is a Bad Idea

About the Kipawa

The best thing paddlers can do to help the cause of the Kipawa:

1. attend the rally and bring others including non paddlers to attend and buy beer and have fun

2. write your MP /MNA and raise the issue and post your objections -1 letter = 200 who didn't write

3. Write Thierry Vandal the CEO of Hydro Quebec strongly opposing the 132 MW standard decrying the use of "diversion" as the most environmentally inappropriate method of power production

4. Write Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec protesting that either the algonquin or the tabaret project will eliminate all other values on the Kipawa River by turning it into a dry gulch.

5. See if you can get other allied groups interested by showing your own interest, ie the Sierra Defense Fund, Earthwild, MEC, and so on.

6. Demand further consultation

7. Currently we are at the point where we need to sway public opinion and raise awareness.

However, if all else fails, don't get mad, simply disrupt, foment, and protest . The Monkey Wrench Gang.

Have you read Edward Abbey?

Important Addresses
CEO,Hydro Québec, 75 boul René Levesque, Montreal, P.Q., H2Z

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Two)

Les Amis de la Riviere Kipawa is poised to use an application to the Federal Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus to ensure the Minster does what he is supposed to do, protect the public's right to navigate the water control structure at Laniel, Quebec using the Navigable Waters Protection Act. (see

In the now gutted Navigable Waters Protection Act lay the means by which the Minister of Transport could keep the public right of passage down our great Canadian Heritage, our rivers and streams which are threatened especially by resource corporations and power brokers such as Hydro Quebec.

These powerful entities continue to petition that 'this' river or 'that' stream is not navigable and therefore not protectable.
I don't say that dams and bridges should not be built, only that if they are, historical navigation rights should be considered and preserved by making reasonable accommodations for recreational boaters.

It is the Minister of Transport, in exercising the right to allow or disallow work on or over a navigable waterway is what keeps boats and recreational boaters plying our waterways.

To many recent cases launched in the Federal Court concerning the Navigable Waters Protection Act, most recently the case of the Humber Environment Group of Cornerbrook Newfoundland versus the Cornerbrook Pulp and Paper Company indicates that the important oversight is not being faithfully performed. Have we really come to the point now where we must say "such and such a stream is one foot deep, possessing so many cubic feet per second flow and so on?" The answer to this is... YES!

The honourable Mr. Justice John A. O'Keefe, ruled that it had not been shown that the river was navigable. How convenient was that to the Minister? But either the Minister of Transport acts to protect our rivers and streams as a public right or he does not and that means rivers and streams currently enjoyed by kayakers and canoists.

Enough of the cheating, and double-talk. Canadians! our rivers and streams are our own, lets urge the Minister of Transport and the our government to protect them.

Peter Karwacki

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Three)

10 Reasons WhyTabaret is a Bad Idea1) Tabaret is too big. The station is designed to useevery drop of water available in the Kipawawatershed, but will run at only 44 percent capacity.We believe the Tabaret station is designed to usewater diverted from the Dumoine River into theKipawa watershed in the future. 2) The Tabaret project will eliminate the aquaticecosystem of the Kipawa River.The Tabaret project plan involves the diversion of a16-km section of the Kipawa River from its naturalstreambed into a new man-made outflow from LakeKipawa. 3) Tabaret will leave a large industrial footprint on thelandscape that will impact existing tourismoperations and eliminate future tourism potential. 4) The Tabaret project is an aggressive single-purposedevelopment, designed to maximize powergeneration at the expense of all other uses. 5) River-diversion, such as the Tabaret project, takinglarge amounts of water out of a river’s naturalstreambed and moving it to another place, is verydestructive to the natural environment. 6) The Kipawa River has been designated a protectedgreenspace in the region with severe limitations ondevelopment. This designation recognizes theecological, historical and natural heritage value ofthe river and the importance of protecting it.Tabaret will eliminate that value. 7) If necessary, there are other, smarter and morereasonable options for producing hydro power onthe Kipawa watershed. It is possible to build a lowimpactgenerating station on the Kipawa river, andmanage it as a “run-of-the-river” station, makinguse of natural flows while maintaining other values,with minimal impact on the environment. 8) The Kipawa watershed is a rich natural resource forthe Temiscaming Region, resonably close to largeurban areas, with huge untapped potential fortourism and recreation development in the future.Tabaret will severely reduce this potential. 9) Tabaret provides zero long-term economic benefitfor the region through employment. The plan is forthe station to be completely automated andremotely operated. 10) The Kipawa River is 12,000 years old. The riverwas here thousands of years before any peoplecame to the region. The Tabaret project will change all that.

Problems on a local River?

  • There is more to do as well but you have to do your research and above all, don't give up.
  • IN the meantime prepared a document itemizing the history of navigation of this spot and its recreational value. Use the Kipawa river history of navigation as a guide: see
  • Under the Ministry of Environment guidelines you have a set period of time to petition the change under the environmental bill of rights, you may have limited time to take this action. But it involves going to court for a judicial review of the decision.
  • 4. contact the ministry of natural resources officials and do the same thing.
  • 3. contact the ministry of the environment and determine if they approved the project
  • 2. determine if the dam was a legal dam, approved under the navigable waters protection act.
  • 1. research the decision and timing of it to determine if an environmental assessment was done.

Minden Ontario

Minden Ontario
Gull River Water control at Horseshoe lake

A History of Navigation on the Kipawa River

Prior to the environmental assessment there was no signage at the Laniel Dam

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!
Send $25 and a stamped self addressed envelop for the Tshirt, and for the bumper sticker, a stamped and self addressed envelope with $5.00 for the bumper sticker to Les Amis de la rivière Kipawa, 80 Ontario St., Ottawa, Ontario, K1K 1K9 or click the link To purchase a Les Amis "T" contact Doug with the following information: Number of shirts:Sizes: Ship to Address: Method of Payment: cash, cheque and paypal, Shipto address:

Bumper Stickers Now Available

Bumper Stickers Now Available
Get your bumper sticker and show your support for the Kipawa Legal Fund ! - send $5.00 in a Stamped, self addressed envelope to: Peter Karwacki Box 39111, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1H 7X0