The French River has great historical significance in Canadian history beginning with the First Nations people. This region has been inhabited for thousands of years and the river proved an invaluable communications route for much of Canadian history. The combination Ottawa River, Mattawa River, Lake Nipissing and the French River provided the gateway to the west for the "coureurs de bois" and the "voyageurs" for more than 200 years. Thanks to the fur trade and the efforts of the early explorers, the French River was discovered and recognized for its beauty and unique environment.
Chaudière Lodge, through its Ecotourism program, allows our guests the opportunity to explore this historically significant region. On your own or accompanied by one of our guides, by boat, canoe or kayak or along the groomed and marked trails, the modern adventurist has the unique opportunity to examine the flora and fauna of this region. Bring your camera, binoculars and your guides to the birds, mammals, plants and even insects of the region and take a leisurely trip back in time. But don't forget your star charts. Our sky is unhindered by the light pollution of major population centers and the stars can be breathtaking on clear nights!
If you are big into photography, there are amazing vistas all around the Lodge and the opportunities for great photographs abound. You can explore the region looking for the perfect photo op or get a guide. Let your guide know what you would like to photograph and they will do their best to get you that opportunity.
Chaudière Lodge can provide the following for your Ecotourism needs:>
- Trail Maps
Boats with fuel are included in most packages. The use of the canoes and kayaks is also included and they are available daily on a first come, first serve basis. Trail maps are available at the Dokis First Nations office and at the Lodge. The Dokis First Nation establishes and maintains these trails and access is provided for a modest fee. For more information, see the Dokis First Nations website.
Guided tours are also available for an additional fee. Please consult with the Lodge Manager to make arrangements.
Flora and Fauna
The French River is part of the Canadian Shield, a region of ancient rock that at times is half water. There are a wide range of plants and animals in this region of interest to the Ecotourist.
Birds abound, ranging from several species of ducks, herons, grouse, raptors, including an active Bald Eagle nest not far from the Lodge, Jays, perching birds and Ruby Throat Hummingbirds. Birders should have the opportunity to add to their Life List on a visit to Chaudière Lodge, especially early or late in the season when the migration is on.
Large mammals include moose, deer, black bear and wolves. There are even those who claim that the Eastern Mountain Lion still roams this area but sightings are extremely rare. There are lynx, otters, muskrat, beaver, pine martens, weasels and many other mammals around. Most are not easy to see but, if you remain still and are observant, you may be rewarded with the sighting of a lifetime.
One should not exclude the reptiles, amphibians and insects. This was the historic range of the illusive Massassauga Rattler, now an endangered species and Ontario's only poisonous reptile (this snake's poison is no threat to a healthy adult but if you do find one, take a picture and leave it alone). There are frogs and turtles and the region is home to the rare and beautiful Lunar Moth.
It is important to remember that you are the intruder into their realm and to never approach a wild animal. Even a small animal will strike out if it feels threatened so always be careful.
The landscape is dominated by coniferous trees but there are many other species of plants in this region. Birch is everywhere and you will find maple and aspen. The ground plants include different types of berries, with Blueberries the most popular. However, you can find many other interesting and unique plants and lichens, many of which were food and medicine for the indigenous peoples.
Recently, there has developed a great interest in recapturing the lore of these ancient peoples and trying these native edibles. However, use extreme caution if you wish to try something you read about in a book. Be absolutely certain of what it is before trying it. If there is any doubt in your mind, don't try it (this is especially true of mushrooms, morels and other fungi). As an extra precaution, we would encourage our guests take along a guide who is knowledgeable about the local wild edibles.