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Sepaq takes over management of Canoe Camping La Vérendre.

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In the mountains North of Montreal.
This is a translation of an article that appeared this morning in the French-speaking Montreal newspaper La Presse Plus.

Reserve La Verendrye A worrying change Marie Tison The Press A few weeks ago, SEPAQ announced that it was taking over the management of canoe-camping reservations at La Vérendrye wildlife reserve. This sector is very popular with enthusiasts of this activity and the news has worried some. Explanations. Will the Society of Outdoor Establishments of Quebec (SEPAQ) gradually abandon the large circuits intended for experienced canoeists? Will it increase ready-to-camp and other glamping facilities? SEPAQ wanted to be reassuring. "We don't want to distort this activity, it's a winning formula," says company spokesperson Simon Boivin. We just want to make the activity more accessible, to highlight it so that it benefits outdoor lovers. » Previously, Canot Kayak Québec managed canoe-camping reservations at La Vérendrye wildlife reserve, which included boat rentals. Release pressure Marc-André Pauzé, photographer and great outdoor enthusiast, discussed the situation with other canoe-camping enthusiasts and wrote a letter to SEPAQ and Canot Kayak Québec to express all of their concerns. More than 540 people have co-signed this missive. They fear in particular that SEPAQ will abandon the large tours of seven to ten days to focus on the small tours of two or three days, which are very popular with less experienced and thus more profitable customers. Simon Boivin argued that there was no question of ruling out long journeys. “Our idea is to facilitate access to the territory in order to take the pressure off certain sectors that are currently too busy, i.e. the places located near the current rental center,” he says. In particular, it is a question of adding at least one other rental site, and thus facilitating access to a larger territory. SEPAQ also intends to offer a shuttle service for certain routes. Mr. Pauzé particularly liked the flexibility of the system in place, which facilitated the organization of courses in the hinterland. “What people who practice canoe-camping more intensely appreciate about the La Vérendrye reserve is that there is very little infrastructure. » — Marc-André Pauzé, photographer and outdoor enthusiast "We're really going into the wilderness, you have to know how it works, a map, a compass, you have to know how to manage your time on an expedition," he said in an interview. “Commodification” of the outdoors He believes that the situation is very different in most SEPAQ parks, which he says are succumbing to a “commodification” of the outdoors. “It is as if we were transforming the wilderness into amusement parks. The forest is a natural setting: it is very beautiful, but we see more and more infrastructures being set up. And this, to the detriment of the wild nature and the experience that one can live there. » Experienced canoe-campers also fear that SEPAQ will force them to determine in advance each of the campsites they intend to use during their expedition. “It is not compatible with an expedition of seven or ten days, maintains Mr. Pauzé. At the limit, it is dangerous: we would thus force people to move in the hinterland when the situation might not be conducive to that. Crossing a large lake in high winds... you better stay where you are and wait for it to pass. » Once again, Simon Boivin wanted to reassure people. “The system remains the same. You choose a circuit of x days, but within this circuit, you have the freedom to sleep on the site you want. There are plenty of places you can stop. » Simon Boivin affirms that SEPAQ and Canot Kayak Québec have modified their partnership by mutual agreement and that the organization will retain an advisory role. “Everyone’s expertise is put to better use,” he says. We manage the reservations, that's what we do. They have a sensitivity as to what canoeists want to do, or how things can be arranged. » “A change often leads to anxiety. We understand it. It starts from an attachment to the territory that we share. We are aware and sensitive to the concern these people have, ”said Mr. Boivin.
 
Thanks, Gerald,
I want to believe this will be good for canoe tripping in La Verendrye but I have no idea. I never had a problem with the way it was run in the past, most of my trips I rarely saw anyone, just paid the fees and hit the trail.
The folks at Canot Kayak Québec (Le Domaine) were very nice, the building where you buy your permits and last-minute gear were like old friends, hopefully, that remains the same.
I think Sepaq has run the hunting and motorboat/RV camping part of the reserve in the past, I would worry that they might want to expand that with more access for them at the expense of canoe trippers.
 
I hope they are bringing the Domaine into the fold because Sepaq itself is oblivious to backcountry canoe camping. They're geared toward selling complete packages to urbanites - like cabin rental with boat, motor, and fishing rights for the weekend. I spoke to a bunch of them at an outdoors show a few years back about backcountry canoe camping and I got deer-in-the-headlights looks all around. Best case scenario (from this pessimist) is that there will be a lot of fumbling around this year until they figure things out. I'd be happy to eat crow on that.
 
Hopefully they limit their typical campground format to a small section of the park near the road with reservable sites within a portage or two at most. Le Domaine didn’t do reservations, but they do limit how many parties are on each circuit. Hopefully Sepaq will only reserve those circuit slots instead of individual sites. The best thing about Le Vérendrye is the lack of amenities! There’s always the Arctic, I guess...
 
Drat. "...facilitate access to the territory in order to take the pressure off certain sectors that are currently too busy..." The wilderness is wilderness because it's hard to access.

LV has been on my list for a few years, hope it's still worth it when I get up there.
 
I am distressed by this also. LV holds a special place in my heart.
 
Drat. "...facilitate access to the territory in order to take the pressure off certain sectors that are currently too busy..." The wilderness is wilderness because it's hard to access.

LV has been on my list for a few years, hope it's still worth it when I get up there.
Seconded. Thanks, Gerald for posting above article rien n'est sacré?
 
This is a translation of an article that appeared this morning in the French-speaking Montreal newspaper La Presse Plus.

Reserve La Verendrye A worrying change Marie Tison The Press A few weeks ago, SEPAQ announced that it was taking over the management of canoe-camping reservations at La Vérendrye wildlife reserve. This sector is very popular with enthusiasts of this activity and the news has worried some. Explanations. Will the Society of Outdoor Establishments of Quebec (SEPAQ) gradually abandon the large circuits intended for experienced canoeists? Will it increase ready-to-camp and other glamping facilities? SEPAQ wanted to be reassuring. "We don't want to distort this activity, it's a winning formula," says company spokesperson Simon Boivin. We just want to make the activity more accessible, to highlight it so that it benefits outdoor lovers. » Previously, Canot Kayak Québec managed canoe-camping reservations at La Vérendrye wildlife reserve, which included boat rentals. Release pressure Marc-André Pauzé, photographer and great outdoor enthusiast, discussed the situation with other canoe-camping enthusiasts and wrote a letter to SEPAQ and Canot Kayak Québec to express all of their concerns. More than 540 people have co-signed this missive. They fear in particular that SEPAQ will abandon the large tours of seven to ten days to focus on the small tours of two or three days, which are very popular with less experienced and thus more profitable customers. Simon Boivin argued that there was no question of ruling out long journeys. “Our idea is to facilitate access to the territory in order to take the pressure off certain sectors that are currently too busy, i.e. the places located near the current rental center,” he says. In particular, it is a question of adding at least one other rental site, and thus facilitating access to a larger territory. SEPAQ also intends to offer a shuttle service for certain routes. Mr. Pauzé particularly liked the flexibility of the system in place, which facilitated the organization of courses in the hinterland. “What people who practice canoe-camping more intensely appreciate about the La Vérendrye reserve is that there is very little infrastructure. » — Marc-André Pauzé, photographer and outdoor enthusiast "We're really going into the wilderness, you have to know how it works, a map, a compass, you have to know how to manage your time on an expedition," he said in an interview. “Commodification” of the outdoors He believes that the situation is very different in most SEPAQ parks, which he says are succumbing to a “commodification” of the outdoors. “It is as if we were transforming the wilderness into amusement parks. The forest is a natural setting: it is very beautiful, but we see more and more infrastructures being set up. And this, to the detriment of the wild nature and the experience that one can live there. » Experienced canoe-campers also fear that SEPAQ will force them to determine in advance each of the campsites they intend to use during their expedition. “It is not compatible with an expedition of seven or ten days, maintains Mr. Pauzé. At the limit, it is dangerous: we would thus force people to move in the hinterland when the situation might not be conducive to that. Crossing a large lake in high winds... you better stay where you are and wait for it to pass. » Once again, Simon Boivin wanted to reassure people. “The system remains the same. You choose a circuit of x days, but within this circuit, you have the freedom to sleep on the site you want. There are plenty of places you can stop. » Simon Boivin affirms that SEPAQ and Canot Kayak Québec have modified their partnership by mutual agreement and that the organization will retain an advisory role. “Everyone’s expertise is put to better use,” he says. We manage the reservations, that's what we do. They have a sensitivity as to what canoeists want to do, or how things can be arranged. » “A change often leads to anxiety. We understand it. It starts from an attachment to the territory that we share. We are aware and sensitive to the concern these people have, ”said Mr. Boivin.
Thanks for this.
 
From the newsletter that went out in January, translated from the French by Google:

Friends of La Vérendrye​

January 2023
Newsletter to stay abreast of the evolution of the situation of backcountry travel by canoe in La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve.
3af49b7d-5a9c-15b5-ad9a-8c48dace8e90.jpg
Good morning,
I take advantage of this newsletter to wish you a happy new year filled with canoe trips on a territory that we hope is as natural as possible.
What should we remember from the first season of the management of canoeing activities in the La Vérendrye reserve by SEPAQ?
At the start of the season, CBC-Abitibi tried to do a program where it invited me to discuss our concerns with a representative of SEPAQ. She did not design to respond to the invitation. A few weeks later, SEPAQ organized a marketing event inviting the media to enjoy a canoe-camping experience with renowned guide Jeff Thuot. This one praised the uniqueness of the reserve and the ease of connecting different portions of the course… However, this is not what those who tried to do it seem to have experienced!
By following the discussions on the various Facebook group forums, several canoe-campers have experienced difficulties in organizing their backcountry trips. Already in the previous newsletter , I relayed a few situations.
Basically, the experience of planning a canoe trip in the backcountry under the guidance of SEPAQ can be summarized:
  1. Book a formatted circuit (ex: Antastogan duration 3 days-2 nights) by telephone with an agent even if this circuit does not correspond to our project. In addition, the attendants we speak to rarely know the La Vérendrye Reserve.
  2. When these packages do not suit us, contact the local La Vérendrye canoe-camping office and ask to speak to the manager or his assistant. Only these two people can receive and “accommodate” a customization request to adapt the package already reserved by telephone.
  3. Pray that these two people are available and can accommodate our booking. Otherwise, we remained stuck with our reservation of formatted product or we canceled it by paying the administration costs if the delay was too short.
Despite several communications with the SEPAQ in order to alert and raise awareness about these difficulties which are difficult to understand, about the loss of access to a unique territory and about the difficulty in maintaining and developing a culture of backcountry travel independently and responsible, it has remained fixed in its way of doing things.
In the letter we sent to SEPAQ, we noted that the La Vérendrye Reserve previously allowed:
  • The possibility of changing camp site according to the vagaries of life in the forest, especially for medium and long trips. Such a trip represents a level of commitment that is not of the same order as a pleasure activity of two or three days. The possibility of adapting routes and campsites according to the unforeseen circumstances of such trips is important for the safety of canoe-campers.
But we feared, among other things:
  • The obligation to fit into a complex organization that has nothing to do with the rhythm of nature. The reservation system is a mercantile and urban concept.
In the letter to SEPAQ, the following paragraph is the perfect example that describes the experiences mentioned above.
Can we keep a place in our network of hyper-recreational parks that allows us to live this experience with a minimum, or even no infrastructure? A place whose access permits are based more on know-how and the spirit of adventure than on planning by registration months in advance, social status and a bank account? Instead that allows you to live to the rhythm of nature, with the only constraints imposed by the environment, an exit date and the amount of food contained in your canoe, without being forced to follow a rigid and artificial schedule and itinerary. constraint?
What is mentioned in the previous paragraph is the basis of a culture of backcountry travel by canoe and what makes it possible to develop a relational culture with a natural territory.
Those of you who would like to read the letter sent to SEPAQ last February, you will find it in this article on my blog .
Now what do we do?
In Ontario, parks are run in conjunction with civic groups, such as Friends of Temagami, Friends of Quetico, and Friends of Algonquin. Could we consider proposing the same thing? Can we mobilize to officially form a citizen group?
Would any of you want to get involved in forming such a group and see what we could do?
If so, please let me know in a reply to this email as well as if you have any ideas of what we could do or how to go about it.
I think that despite everything, we must at least continue to show face in the La Vérendrye reserve and do what we can to get out of the shackles of formatted packages by saying it loud and clear to SEPAQ and its representatives.
While waiting to hear from you, I wish you have a good winter.
Marc-Andre Pauze
 
Much appreciated. Getting ridiculous and sad. I opened the can of worms today~ will follow this.
 
Wow. That really is unfortunate. LV was on the bucket list but, in reading "the process" and the rest of the newsletter, it sounds like I need to concentrate on trips elsewhere. I doubt that SEPAQ will miss me though; I don't sound like their target market.
 
I previously thought M Pauze was exercising rhetoric when he used the term commodify in describing the new LV- SEPAQ relationship, but now think sadly he's entirely accurate. Regimenting access, routes, and campsites without freedom to roam in any guise if you think about it, allows for increased traffic for the most efficient $ investment. The only compromise is the canoe camp experience. I'd like to believe this is all an experimental response to increased numbers of paddlers, in particular over the past three years, and the strained budgets of governments and organizations, the results of which can be seen in parks elsewhere, and not a final decision. Because if it is the new operating model, then LV is starting to sound like a theme park in the making. But maybe now I am guilty of rhetorical hyperbole. Time will tell.
 
The man who sent out the newsletter, Marc-Andre Pauzé, is trying to find out how to set up an organization like “Friends of Temagami”, to better advocate. He does not know who to contact for information. Perhaps the Quebecois feel a bit cut off from their English-speaking neighbors.

I exchanged a couple of emails with him in my college French. I don’t know if he speaks English. The address is:

amislaverendrye@gmail.com
 
The OP was 3/22, did SEPAQ run LV last summer and what were the results?
At first, I was cautious about any change but I just don't see what the issue for concern is. Unless I have it wrong, they say they are going to keep the longer routes while trying to alleviate the overcrowding on some of the closest routes to Le Domaine. Adding a new northern office might help, but it's a good 2-hour ride from Le Domaine to the northern border of the reserve, for most weekenders this is not attractive, and I'm pretty sure they are the reason for the overcrowing that SEPAQ wants to address.

There's always ZEC Kipawa right next door, with some rarely used routes highlighted in Hap Wilson's book "Rivers of the Upper Ottawa Valley". https://www.canoetripping.net/threads/zec-kipawa-southwest-quebec.328/

Then for those who want some pristine never been logged country check out the NIBIISCHII site, https://www.nibiischii.com/fr/lacs-albanel-mistassini-et-waconichi/camping-rustique-et-canot-camping
 
Robin, you could be correct. I don't know. It just sounds bad. I'm grateful I had the trips I did there. People who are interested in Zec Kipawaw can read Robin's trip report above.

I have looked up the link for niviischii and here is what it says about canoe camping (google translation) You have to reserve by email, one month in advance.:
*****************************************************

Canoe-camping​

Various lakes and rivers
Adult$14.00 / day / adult

Child (12 years and +)$7.00 / day / child


Canoe-camping WITHOUT fishing. To fish, obligation to buy an additional fishing right of access.
Restricted access:
Subject to certain conditions and remaining availabilities.
SEND YOUR WRITTEN REQUEST AT LEAST 1 MONTH IN ADVANCE
Taxes not included
Rates may change without notice.
*************************************************************************************************************8

I found a reference to a few lakes, the Mistissini, for example. It all looks beautiful. But I don't see canoe routes available. Their main office is in Chigugamou, QC. I've been in that area. It is beautiful. It might be worth while to communicate with them and find out what their canoe routes are. If you want to fish, it is more like $22/day. But Verendrye was expensive like that also.
 
Robin, you could be correct. I don't know. It just sounds bad. I'm grateful I had the trips I did there. People who are interested in Zec Kipawaw can read Robin's trip report above.

I have looked up the link for niviischii and here is what it says about canoe camping (google translation) You have to reserve by email, one month in advance.:
*****************************************************

Canoe-camping​

Various lakes and rivers
Adult$14.00 / day / adult

Child (12 years and +)$7.00 / day / child


Canoe-camping WITHOUT fishing. To fish, obligation to buy an additional fishing right of access.
Restricted access:
Subject to certain conditions and remaining availabilities.
SEND YOUR WRITTEN REQUEST AT LEAST 1 MONTH IN ADVANCE
Taxes not included
Rates may change without notice.
*************************************************************************************************************8

I found a reference to a few lakes, the Mistissini, for example. It all looks beautiful. But I don't see canoe routes available. Their main office is in Chigugamou, QC. I've been in that area. It is beautiful. It might be worth while to communicate with them and find out what their canoe routes are. If you want to fish, it is more like $22/day. But Verendrye was expensive like that also.

Yes, you have to reserve one month in advance, plus you have to give your experience when you fill out the questionnaire and then be approved. While you have to reserve one month in advance, you don't have to pay till you arrive at their headquarters in Chibougamou, QC, so if you change your mind you can bail out without repercussions.
As far as I know, they have only 3 lakes to explore for canoeists in their vast holdings, I went to an area where the two lakes connected added up to about 60-70 miles, probably 200 miles of shoreline, Lac Robineaue and Lac Canoticane. Very wild, with many long beaches with only moose, caribou, bear and smaller critters footprints,
These are big wild lakes with no sign of human intervention, and no fishing camps which is rare today. While fishing might seem expensive, they give a discount for a 7 day permit that comes out to $73 US, plus $40 $US for 7 day non-resident lic. $110 US for a week of world class fishing is a bargin imo.
 
It sounds beautiful. I read a couple of trip reports of the general area in another forum. It appears these folks (two different groups) cobbled together a canoe route from topo maps, part on Crown Land and part in Nibischii. They got permission from Nibischii for their trips.

This sounds like more fun. 30-40 years ago, before the internet and trip reports, etc., that is the way my partner and I did our trips.
 
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