This story is a dash of canoeing adventure, and a pinch of exciting news to share! We recently took two weeks vacation in Northern Ontario visiting family and friends. Most of the two weeks were spent near Armstrong, Ontario at my family camp on McKenzie Lake. This is 2.5 hours north of Thunder Bay, and about a 20 hour drive from our home in Ottawa. We visit every year, and have loved watching my Dad’s camp build project come to life. This year we hit some major milestones, including a septic installation and functioning toilet, running hot water and near completion of the staining / preserving of the exterior of the camp.

Hard at work staining

As you might surmise, visits to camp are a mix of hard work and fun. This year we managed to negotiate a few days off from Project Manager Peter (aka my Dad), and were able to explore the area around us. The landscape in this region is remote and spectacular, with many Canadians and Americans traveling long distances to visit it, primarily via outfitters. One of the spots on our bucket list was the Kopka River, a renowned mix of scenic lakes, rivers, rapids and waterfalls. Equipped with a map and advice from a local outfitter (Wabikimi Adventures), we set off on a 2 day, 3 night canoeing adventure hoping to reach a set of waterfalls on the Kopka River.

Our paddling route
Portage sherpa Liz

There were 2 portages and a number of campsites along an 18km stretch of the Kopka River, after launching at a point near Highway 527. We had favourable weather and winds on our first day of paddling, and ended up pushing the full 18kms to the falls on Day 1. We crossed Bukemiga Lake and Wigwasan Lake, two lakes known for their incredible fishing and tackled the two portages with excitement. We were cruising at an average of 6km/hour, and Teddy finally settling in for a much needed nap in the canoe mid-way. Wigwasan Lake eventually narrowed into a river, and stunning granite cliffs rose up on either side of us. At around the 17km mark, we passed 4 canoes heading out from the falls. They told us they’d made some improvements to the campsite, and that we were in for a treat with, excellent fishing at the base of the falls.

We arrived at the waterfalls shortly before 2pm and found an empty campsite with a firepit, newly created bench and cooking table. This proved to be one of the most remarkable campsites we’ve ever stayed at, and we had it all to ourselves for the next 2 days! We set up our tent with a view of the falls, and enjoyed a dinner of mashed potatoes smothered in rehydrated moose meat and mushroom gravy by the fire that night. We were in our tent by 9pm despite the sky still being light. It sets much later this far northwest, but that couldn’t keep us up!

On the morning of our second day, I picked fresh blueberries just behind our campsite. We enjoyed a breakfast of oatmeal, berries, coconut crumble and coffee by the falls. Since we had the place all to ourselves, we took a skinny dip to wake ourselves up after breakfast.

Antoine played around with the drone, scouting the falls and nearby area to see if we could spot the portage / hiking trail. He called me over to show me the latest shot on his cell phone… And that’s when it happened!

The proposal

Suddenly he was down on one knee, asking me to marry him. I can’t remember what he or I even said. Apparently I didn’t answer, so he asked me again. Of course I said yes! Followed by “am I supposed to put the ring on my finger now?” The ring was absolutely stunning, and we were both shaking. Antoine had the ring custom designed by Joy Creations with my great grandmother’s diamond, passed down to me by my Aunt Sheila. There are tiny dainty leaves on the band. He nailed it!!! Teddy knew something really exciting was happening, and showed us in the only way he knows how. See below for the uncensored version with Teddy’s reaction… :O

And the rest is history 🙂 We’re engaged now, and really excited to share the full story with our friends and family! We spent the rest of the day fishing, exploring the area and calling each other fiancé. That night, we enjoyed a celebratory engagement dinner of fresh caught pickerel and pasta. We snuggled by the bonfire, and went to bed by 9pm again. It was a day neither of us will forget.

Teddy snuggles by the bonfire

Our return trip the next day proved fairly challenging, as the wind was against us making our 18 km paddle a struggle. We stopped for chili lunch and a swim on a beach mid-way to break it up, but we were so excited to get back and share the news with our family.

A pause at a beach for lunch

We got home that night around dinner and celebrated with my parents, their best friends Brenda and spouse Dominic, and my brother Greg who arrived that night. We were joined by his girlfriend Mikayla and her daughter Grace the next day. We capped the week off with a scenic bushplane ride to nearby Lake Nipigon. The outfitters and bushplane pilots are understandably less busy this year due to COVID-19, but it afforded us an opportunity to take a ride that we might not otherwise have. Seeing the sights from above was extra special, and we even got to do a low fly by over our camp. This little flight capped off an incredible week or so at camp; one that we will never forget.

Bushplane ride with the fam jam!

Thank you for reading along, and for all the love and support we’ve received since announcing our engagement. We’re so thankful for our awesome friends and family, and can’t wait to celebrate with everyone in the future!

Liz & Antoine