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A Visit to Victoria Island

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10_20_14Student Response (Lower)

10_20_14Student Response (Upper)


We made it to Ottawa, the capital of Canada! I have some information about Victoria Island to share with you now! Remember, students voted in a recent Cast YOUR Vote for us to visit Victoria Island while we are in Ottawa. Thank you for choosing Victoria Island. It is an interesting place that is full of history.


The Ottawa River runs right past the city of Ottawa. This meant we paddled our canoe past the city. There are several sets of rapids on the river. We portaged around the first rapids, walking our canoe on the bike path. The next set of rapids was smaller, so we paddled through. Shortly after the rapids we could see the Parliament building and a dam. We had one more short portage to reach Victoria Island. Again, we walked along the bike path, pulling our canoe on wheels.

As we followed the quiet street downhill onto Victoria Island, we felt like we were leaving the traffic and bustle of the city behind and we were stepping back in time. There is green space on the island. There are also some old buildings and a place the First Peoples’ Village, where a group called Aboriginal Experiences teaches people about how Algonquin traditions and culture.

The view on Victoria Island, looking towards Parliament. The totem pole to the left came from British Columbia.

The view on Victoria Island, looking towards Parliament. The totem pole to the left came from British Columbia, Canada.

Victoria Island was the perfect place to launch our canoe when it was time to leave Ottawa. Before the dam was here, there was a large waterfall called Chaudière Falls that people portaged around. Long ago Algonquin people and later voyageurs portaged around Chaudière Falls here. Throughout history, the best place to portage has been Victoria Island.

Victoria Island was a meeting place for the Algonquin nation for thousands of years. The island was used as a place for gatherings, trading and celebrations. The Algonquin name for Victoria Island is Asinabka, which means Place of Glare Rock.

This is the First Peoples' Village on Victoria Island.

This is the First Peoples’ Village on Victoria Island.

If you look at a map of Victoria Island and Ottawa, you can see that three rivers come together here. The Gatineau River enters the Ottawa River from the north and the Rideau River enters from the south. No wonder it was an important meeting place!

In the 1800s to 1900s, Victoria Island was used for the lumber industry. Imagine logs floating in massive rafts down the Ottawa River. A massive pulp mill operated nearby, turning logs into pulp for paper. Another type of industry happened on Victoria Island. This was the site of the Wilson Carbide Mill and an electric power generating station.

This is the Wilson Carbide mill on Victoria Island.

This is the Wilson Carbide mill on Victoria Island.

We launched our canoe from Victoria Island a couple days ago. We were joined by six other canoes. A dozen people and two dogs joined us on the water. It was a pleasure to have so many people join us as we paddled past the Parliament and other historic sites along the Ottawa River. These nice people gave us a tour of Ottawa from the water! After a few miles of paddling with company, it was time to say goodbye. Dave and I are on our own as we continue on to Montreal.






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Garbage in the river

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Last week we collected all of our trash and found that we produced one large zip-lock bag of non-recyclable trash during the week. Most of the trash was plastic bags from food. Based on your suggestions we will try to refill containers with bulk foods like rice and dried beans rather than buying them in plastic bags to help reduce the amount of trash that we produce.

Unfortunately, as we paddle downstream from Ottawa we have started noticing a lot of trash in the river. At one of our campsites we found 3 times as much garbage as we produce in a week scattered along the edge of the river. It is really sad to see and we are not sure what we should do. We could spend all day searching the shoreline picking up trash, but then we would never make it to Washington D.C. before winter. However, it is sad to see trash in the river and we feel like we should be picking it up. What should we do? What would you do?

Keep Exploring!


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How should we get to the Richelieu Canal?

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We will paddle south along the Richelieu Canal to get from Saint Lawrence River to Lake Champlain. There are two ways that we could get from Montreal to the Richelieu Canal and we need you to help us decide which route we should take.

One option is to paddle down the Saint Lawrence River for about 45 miles past Montreal to where the Richelieu Canal joins the Saint Lawrence River. From there we would paddle south on the canal to Lake Champlain. The other option is to use our wheeled cart to portage our canoe along a road about 14 miles from Montreal to the Richelieu Canal. Doing the portage would take about 7 hours, but it would save us about 100 miles of paddling, which would probably take about 4 days.

If we paddled down the Saint Laurence River we will get to see more of the river and see some of the big ocean going freighters that come up the river to Montreal, but the river is very wide below Montreal and if it is windy the waves could be so big that we would have to wait on shore for the wind to die.

If we took the portage we could see more of the country side and have more time to spend in Montreal and would have more time to explore the river between Ottawa and Montreal. Cast your vote and help us decide!

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

The post How should we get to the Richelieu Canal? appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.

How can we reduce the amount of garbage that we have to throw away?

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Based on your suggestions to our Dave’s Dilemma a few weeks ago, we have been saving all of our trash for the last 5 days. Our plan is to save 7 days worth of trash and then sort and weight all of the trash so that we know exactly how much we are producing. Then, based on your suggestions we will try to reduce the amount of non-recyclable and non-reuseable garbage that we produce each week.

I recently finished reading a book call Garbology, which is all about the trash that we produce. Did you know that the average American produces more than 7 pounds of trash each day? That adds up to about 200,000 pounds over a person’s lifetime. However, the book also talked about a family of 4 living in California that can fit all of the non-recyclable garbage they produce in a year into one large peanut butter jar!

We are not done collecting our trash for the week, but it is easy to see that a large percentage of our garbage is plastic food packaging: bread bags, cheese wrappers, bags from the bulk food bins at the grocery store, plastic lids that are hard to recycle, zip-lock style bags, etc.

Do you have ideas for how we could reduce the amount of plastic garbage that we produce? What type of garbage do you produce? What can you do to reduce the amount you throw away?

The post How can we reduce the amount of garbage that we have to throw away? appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.