The Complete Guide to the Best Courses to Learn to Canoe and Kayak in Ontario

Take a local course, learn at a Paddling Centre or go on a guided skills-based paddling adventure.

Whether you’re a first-time paddler or an advancing intermediate, taking canoe and kayak courses, clinics or a learning paddling trip is a fun and social way to improve your canoe skills or kayaking skills. 

There are three main types of learning opportunities: take a short course at a nearby lake or river, take a weekend or longer clinic at a Paddling Centre or go on a guided paddling trip designed to improve your paddling and wilderness camping skills.

As your skills improve, you'll feel more confident and safe exploring Ontario’s amazing canoeing and kayaking destinations. Be inspired by these stories on where to paddle in Ontario. 

Find Courses, Paddling Centres & Paddling Trips

Canoe and Kayak Courses Near You

If you’re looking for a local mentor or a specific type of coaching, visit Paddle Canada to find a course or certified instruction provider near you. Search “Find a Course” or “Find an Instructor” on Paddle Canada’s comprehensive website. Ontario Recreational Canoeing & Kayaking Association members (ORCKA) also offer certification courses throughout the province. Just google canoe courses near me or kayak courses near me.

Ontario Paddling Centres

Along with first-rate instruction for all levels of canoeing and kayaking, Paddling Centres offer comfortable on-site accommodations and meal plans, so you can focus on your kayaking skills and canoe skills course.

Guided Learning Trips

Guided trips are an excellent way to learn or improve your canoe skills or kayaking skills while enjoying a paddling vacation. Trips vary from introduction to canoeing and kayaking to advanced skill building. Trips include a combination of formal instruction and on-going coaching while you gain real experience on a multi-day adventure.

Whatever type of canoe or kayaking skills course you're looking for, you'll find it in Ontario. 


Rossport canoe and kayak COURSES

Superior Outfitters, (807) 824-3314, Dock St, Rossport, 
Half- and full-day, introductory “Discover Sea Kayaking” instruction offered daily in July and August.

Thunder Bay canoe and kayak Courses

Wilderness Supply | WAVpaddling, (807) 684-9555, 244 Pearl St, Thunder Bay
Introductory and intermediate sea kayak instruction; half-day, full-day and weekend courses available. All levels of standup paddleboard instruction also available (half-day).

Such a Nice Day Adventures, (807) 356-6785,     
Beginner to intermediate sea kayak instruction; private lessons and 2-day Paddle Canada certification course available in and around Thunder Bay (June to September).

Atikokan (Quetico) canoe and kayak Courses

Spirit of the Paddle, (807) 597-8281, Atikokan, / 
ORCKA canoe instruction and certification courses, offered in Quetico Park.

Kenora canoe and kayak Courses

Green Adventures, (807) 407-8683, 806 River Dr, Kenora, 
Beginner canoe, kayak and standup paddleboard instruction; courses offered evenings and weekends in July and August.


Wawa canoe and kayak Courses

Naturally Superior Adventures, (705) 856-2939 / 1-800-203-9092, 10 Government Dock Rd, Wawa, 
Beginner to advanced sea kayak instruction (half-day to 5-day), certification and custom courses available June through September. Standup paddleboard instruction also available. Stay-and-play packages for paddlesports learning vacations.

Blind River canoe and kayak Courses

Algoma Paddlers Canoe & Kayak Club, (705) 356-9815, Blind River, 
Canoe and sea kayak instruction for club members, serving Blind River, Elliot Lake and surrounding Algoma region. ORCKA certification courses, clinics and winter pool sessions available. Learn more here.


Manitoulin canoe and kayak Courses

By Path or Paddle, (705) 859-1683, 20 Moggy Parkway, Manitowaning, Mark Gibeault.
Introductory to intermediate sea kayak instruction, and introductory canoe or big canoe instruction available on request.

Sudbury & AREA canoe and kayak Courses

Horizons Adventures, (705) 866-6069, 28 Sleepy Hollow Rd, Whitefish, 
Beginner to advanced sea kayak instruction (half-day to 5-day), certification and custom courses available May through September. Course locations include Greater Sudbury, North Channel and Manitoulin Island.

Sudbury Canoe Club, (705) 822-2399, 206 Ramsey Lake Rd, Sudbury, 
Introductory canoe, kayak and standup paddleboard lessons (1 to 3 hours) on Sudbury’s Ramsey Lake for club members. Winter kayak polo (pool), summer whitewater kayak lessons, and kids’ canoe camps also available.

MHO Adventures, 67 Widjiitiwin Road, Huntsville, (855) 226-6366, 
Go on a guided trip to learn or improve your paddling skills. Take a family adventure on the Spanish River , Moose River or French River. Take a guided white water canoe expedition on the Missinaibi River.

Temagami canoe and kayak Courses

Temagami Outfitting Co., (416) 835-0963, 11 Lakeshore Dr, Temagami, 
Intermediate whitewater canoe clinics on the Temagami River (2 days), offered weekly during summer. Guided trips are also available. 


Almaguin Highlands canoe and kayak COURSES

Blackfeather, (888) 849-7668, 
Intermediate and advanced whitewater canoeists can improve whitewater skills in the technical rapids of the Upper Magnetawan River (mid-May) or Lower Magnetawan River (mid-May).

Haliburton canoe and kayak Courses

AO Boatwerks, (705) 286-1492 / (866) 529-2570, 12667 ON-35, Minden
Beginner to advanced instruction for kayaking, canoeing and C1 in both flatwater and whitewater on the Gull River. There are no specific course dates—lessons and clinics (half-day and full-day) run on-request all season long.

 Muskoka and Algonquin canoe and kayak Courses

MHO Adventures, 67 Widjiitiwin Road, Huntsville, (855) 226-6366, 
Learn backcountry skills as well as paddling skills and certification courses through ORCKA and Paddle Canada. Go on a guided trip to learn or improve your paddling skills. Take a Family Adventure on the Spanish River, Moose River, French River or in the Haliburton Highlands. Take a guided white water canoe expedition on the Petawawa River.

Muskoka Kayak School, Port Sydney and Minden, 
Focused on teaching kids to kayak, Muskoka Kayak School offers a variety of summer camps (five day camp – full or half day), training groups (introduction, intermediate and advanced skills), whitewater weekends and competitive learning sessions.

Kirkwood Canoe, (705) 783-5817, 729 White House Rd, Huntsville, 
Canoeing instruction for all skill levels and ages; ORCKA certification courses (1 to 5 days) and custom lessons available. Locations include Huntsville, Algonquin Park and Muskoka.

Paddle In, (705) 533-3576, 503 Con Rd 15W, Tiny, / 
Flatwater and moving water canoeing instruction and flatwater kayaking instruction for all skill levels; ORCKA certification courses (1 to 5 days, May to August) and custom coaching available. Course locations throughout central Ontario, including Washago, Bala, Palmer Rapids, French River and Georgian Bay.

Wilderness Adventures, (416) 746-7427 / (866) 383-9453, 
Beginner canoe trips with ORCKA certified instruction. Canoe trips take place in Algonquin Park (3 to 6 days, June to October).

Parry Sound & Georgian Bay canoe and kayak Courses

Young woman doing a kayak roll.
Learn to roll on Georgian Bay. 

Ontario Sea Kayak Centre, (905) 399-1216, 6 Harmony Lane, Parry Sound, 
This Paddling Centre offers beginner to advanced sea kayak certification courses (2 to 5 days, June to August) available in Georgian Bay and Guelph; pool rescue and rolling lessons offered in Toronto/Mississauga and Oakville. The annual Paddlepalooza Kayak Festival ( late May) and the Women on Water Festival (early June) offer great learning opportunities. 

Black Feather, 1-888-849-7668, 250 McNaught's Road, Seguin, 
Black Feather offers a variety of kayaking trips on Georgian Bay that include skills clinics and coaching. The 3-day beginner kayak getaway is designed to provide you with basic paddling, safety, rescue, navigation, touring and kayak-camping techniques. The Intermediate trips include a variety of 4 to 7-day trips on Georgian Bay

Wilderness Adventures, (416) 746-7427 / (866) 383-9453, 
Beginner sea kayak trips with ORCKA certified instruction. Kayak trips depart near Parry Sound on Georgian Bay (3 to 5 days, June to August).


Tobermory canoe and kayak Courses

Thorncrest Outfitters, (519) 596-8908, 7441 ON-6, Tobermory, 
Beginner and intermediate sea kayak instruction; half- and full-day courses available.  Introductory standup paddleboard instruction also available (two hours).

Collingwood canoe and kayak Courses

Free Spirit Tours, (705) 606-0867 / (519) 599-2268, 236720 Grey County Rd 13, Heathcote, I
ntroductory sea kayak and paddleboard lessons (two hours) on Georgian Bay.

Barrie canoe and kayak Courses

Happy Paddling, (705) 881-5533, 81 Lakeshore Dr, Barrie 
Introductory and refresher sea kayak clinics (2.5 hours); introductory canoe lessons (2.5 hours); and discover standup paddleboarding lessons (1 hour).


Ottawa Valley canoe and kayak Courses

Whitewater kayaker paddling had to get through a gate.
Learn from the best at MKC. 

Madawaska Kanu Centre, (613) 756-3620 / (888) 652-5268, 247 River Rd, Barry's Bay, 
This Paddling Centre offers white water canoe and kayak courses for all ages and abilities; full-day, weekend and 5-day courses available. World-class instruction for beginner to advanced paddlers; locations include the Madawaska and Ottawa rivers. Stay-and-play packages for whitewater learning vacations. Black Feather offers a whitewater canoe tripping clinic (May 29 to 31, 2020) based at MKC. This clinic is designed to prepare paddlers with some experience for a significant expedition on a northern river. 

Paddler Co-op, (613) 758-2772, 6535 Palmer Rd, Palmer Rapids, 
Whitewater canoe and kayak instruction for all ages and abilities; full-day, 2-day and 5-day courses available (May to August) on the friendly Madawaska River. Stay-and-play at the Paddler Co-op’s riverside campground.

Black Feather, (888) 849-7668, Palmer Rapids, 
This whitewater canoeing weekend is the perfect opportunity to learn the paddling skills and safety techniques you will need to enjoy Ontario’s wilderness rivers. Offered June 6 to 7 and June 20 to 21, 2020.

Wilderness Tours / Ottawa Kayak School, (888) 723-8669, 503 Rafting Rd, Foresters Falls
Beginner to advanced whitewater kayak instruction for all ages; courses range from 1-day to 6-day. Stay-and-play packages at Wilderness Tours Adventure Resort on the world-class whitewater of the Ottawa River.

Liquid Skills Kayak & SUP School, (613) 633-8795, 28 Farnel Trail, Beachburg, 
Beginner to advanced, flatwater and whitewater kayak and standup paddleboard instruction for all ages. Courses range from 1-day to 5-day, 1-hour clinics also available. World-class whitewater and coaching on the Ottawa River (April to November).

Boreal River Rescue, (866) 242-9383, 78 George St, Suite 204, Ottawa, 
Whitewater and swiftwater rescue, wilderness first aid courses offered across Ontario; custom whitewater canoe, kayak and raft skills courses available on-request.

Kingston canoe and kayak Courses

1000 Islands Kayaking Co, (613) 329-6265, 110 Kate St, Gananoque, 
Beginner and intermediate sea kayak certification courses (2-day or 4-day), offered June to September.

Frontenac Outfitters, (613) 376-6220, 6674 Bedford Rd, Sydenham, 
Introductory to beginner-intermediate sea kayaking instruction and certification courses (3.5 hours, full-day or 2 days), available June to August. Introductory and skill refinement canoe lessons (3 hours) and discover standup paddleboarding lessons (1.5 hours) also offered.


Toronto canoe and kayak Courses

Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre, (416) 203-2277 / 1-(800) 960-8886, 283 Queens Quay W, Toronto, 
This Paddling Centre offers beginner to intermediate sea kayak, lakewater canoe and standup paddleboard instruction; programs range from 2-hour pool lessons to 5-day certification courses.

Toronto Adventures, (416) 536-2067, 9 Old Mill Rd, Etobicoke, 
Introductory kayak, canoe and standup paddleboard lessons (1.5 to 2 hours), available May to October on the Humber River. Beginner-intermediate sea kayak certification courses (full day), offered June to October on Lake Ontario.

The Complete Paddler, (416) 255-6905 / 1-866-9-KAYAKS, 919 Oxford St, Etobicoke,  I
ntroductory to intermediate sea kayak, lakewater canoe and standup paddleboard instruction; programs range from 2-hour pool lessons to 2-day certification courses. Pool classes are offered year-round, lake courses available June to September.

Paddlesport Lessons, (647) 848-4177,   
Introductory and skill refinement sea kayaking lessons offered in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton and St. Catharines. Beginner to intermediate certification courses also available at Toronto location (June to September).

Hamilton-Niagara canoe and kayak Courses

Kayak Ontario, (647) 779-3016, St. Catharines, 
Introductory to intermediate sea kayak instruction, including winter pool lessons (January to April), 2-day skills symposium (October), Paddle Canada Level I certification courses (2 days, May to October) and Level II course (4 days, August). Locations include St. Catharines, Jordan Harbour, Burlington, Port Maitland, and Bruce Peninsula.


Paris canoe and kayak Courses

Grand Experiences, 519-442-3654 / 1-888-258-0441, 115 Grand River St N, Paris
Introductory to intermediate lakewater canoeing and sea kayaking lessons and certification courses; locations include Long Point (Lake Erie) and the Grand River. Also offer introductory whitewater kayaking instruction on the Nith River (spring only).

London canoe and kayak Courses

Otter Valley Paddle Sports, (519) 688-7330, 72 Vienna Rd, Tillsonburg, 
Introductory and skill refinement sea kayaking instruction, ranging from 2-hour winter pool lessons to half- and full-day clinics. 


If you're looking to plan an ambitious canoeing adventure, polish your kayaking skills, or just get on the river for the first time, Ontario’s canoe and kayak courses can get you there.

Click here to be inspired and discover the best places to paddle in Ontario. 

About Virginia Marshall

Virginia Marshall is a freelance outdoor adventure writer, photographer and editor with roots in Muskoka and Lake Superior. Read her work in Adventure Kayak, Canoeroots, Rapid, Paddling Magazine and Backroad Mapbooks.

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