No Boat? No Problem!
The boating season in Ontario is short, and the fair weather season is even shorter. Making the most of that tiny window of summer usually requires a way to get out on the water. There are several non-motorized ways to get yourself out there—Ontario is known for its world-class paddling—but if you’re looking for a way to get from point A to B in a relatively fast fashion, you likely don’t want to be in a kayak or canoe. Paddling also isn’t optimal for many families or larger groups.
If you’re already a boat owner, it can be hard to accept when you no longer have access to the water as usual. For instance, the reason I’m writing this piece is because my boat is being repaired as we speak. Not willing to wait, I decided it was time for me to get creative in order to get back out there, faster than I could get my boat back. I needed to find other options.
While there are several reasons you may find yourself without a boat this summer, such as expenses, your boat is in the shop, or if you’re not quite ready for boat ownership, here are some creative ways to get out on the water this season.
1. Houseboating In Ontario
Perhaps a more unique way to (literally) be out on the water as much as possible is to look into houseboating. Houseboating opportunities can be found all over Ontario, and they really are just like a second home — just on the water. Many houseboats offer small fishing boats, and some even have upgrades available so you can get as serious or as relaxed as you want with your tow-behind boat.
A major plus to houseboats is getting yourself and the whole family (or a group of friends) out on the water for an extended period of time. Whether a weekend or a week, you’re sure to make the most of your time on the water. Some options to choose from:
Lac Seul Floating Lodges in Hudson — come with a 16' aluminum boat with no motor, or you can upgrade to a large G3 fishing boat with a 60HP motor.
Ontario Wilderness Houseboat Rental in Morson — multiple styles/ levels of boats that can be rented for a day or a week.
Houseboat Adventures Inc in Kenora — 16’ fishing boat included in all houseboat rentals.
Leisure Island in Temagami — a great option, but you would have to bring your own boat to tow behind.
Houseboat Holidays in Gananoque — no smaller boat included, they recommend bringing a canoe or kayak.
R&R Houseboat Rentals in Bobcaygeon — you will need to speak with owners about smaller boat availability.
2. Boat Rentals and Getaway Adventures In Ontario
Perhaps the most obvious way to get out on the water is simply by renting a boat. Most companies go by daily, weekend or weekly rentals making this the most accessible and straightforward method. It really depends on what you want out of your boating experience, as a large part of these companies specialize in fishing boats with a handful offering boats with other recreational uses.
Some of the outfitters below also have American Plan accommodations available, which is where you pay for the use of the boat, lodging, food and possibly even a guide if you wish! But don’t worry, you don’t need to be an American to purchase an American Plan (see also: housekeeping plans).
Tomahawk Resort in Sioux Narrows — rent a boat, or stay there with a camper/trailer as well while you enjoy your time on the water hassle-free, all on Lake of the Woods!
Diverse Boat Rentals in Tiny — this establishment rents everything from jet skis to bowriders on Georgian Bay.
Dog Lake Resort in Thunder Bay — an excellent example of a wilderness resort nestled amongst sandy beaches and rocky shores, this is an American Plan or Housekeeping Plan resort.
Sail La Vie Boat Rental and School in Innisfil — great rental options, and they also offer cruises and courses.
3. Guided Boating Trips In Ontario
A guide won’t just take you fishing. You can hire a guide to take you sightseeing, enjoy the sunrise and sunset views, scout out some pictographs found all over the north, learn about the lake's history, and photograph the beauty of the Canadian Shield. You can also stretch your wings and go bird watching from a boat — ask the guides to help you spot species like bald eagles, terns, osprey, pelicans, sandpipers, lots of waterfowl and so many more.
Just need a few days on the water to scratch that itch? Hiring a guide will get you on the water, and onto some of the best fishing spots if you so desire! Don’t forget about the added bonus of shore lunch. Here are some great guides to try:
Dave Bennett in Kenora on Lake of the Woods
Cal Ritchie in Vermilion Bay on Eagle Lake
Angling Algoma based out of Sault Ste. Marie
John Giuliani’s Fishing Adventures based out of Sault Ste. Marie
Gord Ellis based out of Nipigon
Pro Fishing with Frank Clark based out of Sudbury
Stillwater Fishing & Tours on Birch Island, near Espanola
Neil Leduc based out of Nipigon
4. Sightseeing Tours By Boat In Ontario
As an added bonus, you could consider this alternative to getting out on the water.
Similar to a guide, but different — sightseeing tours often host larger groups and are short and sweet options. You won’t believe some of the sights that can be seen in Ontario: some are otherworldly, and some feel coastal.
These delightful half-day water experiences are ideal for everyone!
The M.S Kenora in Kenora
Sail Superior in Thunder Bay
The Bruce Anchor Cruises in Tobermory
The William Ramsey in Sudbury