Each Winter Carnaval, teams of strapping fit competitors hoist, haul, push, pull, and paddle heavy wooden canoes across ice sheets and water channels in the St Lawrence River. Ice Canoe Races took place in the city’s first Carnaval back in 1894, and today remains a highlight of the world’s largest winter festival. A company now offers visitors and locals the opportunity to experience an ice canoe for themselves, and it’s just the sort of one-of-a-kind adventure that belongs on our national bucket list.
Length of Trip : Depending on conditions, you’ll spend about an hour on the water, with training, gear-ups and rest breaks taking another two.
Cost: Visit Quebec Ice Canoeing for the latest pricing.
Best time to go : Usually starts in mid-December and ends at the beginning of March. Time your visit with Winter Carnaval in February to see the pros in action.
Wheelchair friendly : No
Family friendly : Best suited for older kids.
Where to eat :
Initiale – Relais & Châteaux
Café de la Paix inc.
Budget Chez Ashton
Vieille maison du Spaghetti
Official Site :
Quebec Ice Canoeing
Where to Stay : We recommend staying with our trusted partner, Holiday Inn Express in Quebec City.
Getting There :
The departure and arrival location is at Anse Brown basin (bassin de l’Anse Brown). There is a heated area to gear up, have your briefing, and use bathrooms.
Note from Robin : Nothing to ice canoeing if we were on an ice rink, but it’s painfully obvious from the get-go that the St Lawrence River has never seen a Zamboni. Ice sheets are erratic and sharp, about as unpredictable as a jackal juggling sushi knives. Our canoe tilted and dropped with no warning. Legs sink into dead-cold waters.You wade forward until reaching the next patch of ice where you’ll have to haul the canoe up, only to quickly receive instructions to get back into rowing position. Definitely strenuous, but much of that depends on the abilities of your group.