Southwestern Ontario Canoe Trip: Paddling and Fishing Wallaceburg Water Trails

Paddling A Canoe

Kevin Callan, aka “The Happy Camper”, visits The Wallaceburg Water Trails, one of his favourite Southern Ontario canoe spots in this video. “I think my dog, Angel, stole the show,” Kevin admits.

For old times’ sake, I headed down to my past stompin’ grounds in Southwestern Ontario’s Chatham-Kent to paddle and fish. I grew up in Southern Ontario, and my dad taught me how to camp, fish and learn to love nature here. 

I spent three days exploring an incredible series of paddling/fishing routes, the Wallaceburg Water Trail. The series of day paddling routes are made up of the three main waterways: Sydenham River, Snye River and Running Creek. All can be done separately, but they can also be combined to create a loop route. Imagine paddling three rivers in one day without organizing a car shuttle!

The Wallaceburg Water Trails. A fantastic destination for a classic Southwestern Ontario canoe trip.

Why a canoe and not a boat? I just like to paddle a canoe when I fish. However, the majority of the waterways are perfect for motorboat angling as well. All three waterways are more lake-like with a minor current, so it doesn’t matter how you travel the route. 

My choice was to head out from the launch area at Crother’s Conservation Area. It’s located just on the outskirts of the town of Wallaceburg, along the shore of Running Creek. MacDonald Park boat launch—along the St. Clair Parkway and on the shore of the Syne River—is also a good place to access the route.  

Enjoying a little shore fishing on the Syne River.

There’s also Shilo Park, a private campground where the Syne River joins the Sydenham River. That might be another good place to put in and take out, especially if you’re looking for a place to stay a night or two. Personally, I camped at Rondeau Provincial Park, about a forty-minute drive away. 

If you’re looking to rent a canoe or kayak, check out The Crappie Store nearby. 

Running Creek, from Crother’s Cove to MacDonald Park, was my favourite. It was linear rather than making the full loop. But Running Creek is smaller and more fitting for the canoe. Once it leaves Wallaceburg, there’s not much along the shoreline except rare Carolinian trees, countless songbirds, bald eagles, and good fishing. The water is also a turquoise colour. This is also true of The Syne—maybe even more so. Both are fed from Lake Huron and the St. Clair River. The Sydenham is the only waterway that has the regular hot chocolate tint to it. 

I’m not the only one who enjoys this Southwestern Ontario canoe destination. Pictured here is Angel, my show-stealing dog, enjoying the scenery on Running Creek—I think it was our mutual favourite of the three waterways travelled.

The entire route was portage-free except for two lift-overs; one at a railway crossing and one where the drainage ditch links with Running River (high water levels may add more at bridge crossings). 

There was good smallmouth bass fishing on the Running Creek. I’m guessing there’s also crappie, catfish and walleye. The Syne—or Chenail Escarte—runs along Warpole Island and into Lake St. Clair. There’s good smallmouth bass, perch, walleye and muskie there. The Sydenham River’s lower stretch, near Wallaceburg, holds all kinds of species, from giant channel catfish to decent walleye. Smallmouth bass and northern pike can be good as well. 

For more video content and Ontario canoe hotspots from Kevin Callan (aka “The Happy Camper”), subscribe to his YouTube Channel, KCHappyCamper

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