It’s so weird how we’re surrounded by rivers and lakes, and there are not many places where you can just go for an hour or two and rent a canoe or kayak. We’ve been up canoeing in Laval, and there are a couple of places on the island of Montreal that are open to the public, but unless you’ve got access to a yacht club, or some way to strap a canoe to your roof, you might be out of luck.
But aha! McGill University has heeded our call, and newly opened this summer at the beautiful Macdonald campus in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue is a paddling centre which offers kayak, canoe and stand-up paddle board (SUP) rentals.
Not feeling too confident? You can also take intro to kayak or SUP lessons in a private or semi-private class. The Paddle Shack also offers SUP yoga (we watched a class, those people are flexible AND have great balance!), evening and weekend social paddles, and you can rent a 6-person Party SUP. Cool. Find all the RENTAL INFO here. You can also rent wet suits, dry bags for all yer stuff, waterproof phone cases and speakers that affix right to your boat! Lockers are free.
Rates are by the hour, or you can buy a 5-pack or season pass. McGill students (and staff?) and Mac gym members have special rates. See the FAQ page for more info. Life jackets (PFDs) are included and they have them down to toddler size. If you have an infant, you might want to call ahead to make sure they have small enough sizes.
Parking is available in front of the red shipping containers which house the office and boats, and there is a port-a-potty, picnic table and cozy adirondack chairs in which to lounge. And lounge I did! My crap back wasn’t going to let me fold down into a boat, so the boys rented a 16′ canoe for themselves. My 9-year old was hoping for a kayak to himself, but kids need to be 15 and older to take a boat out on their own. Also, we couldn’t afford to rent two! They DO have two double kayaks available if you want to try that.
The morning we went there was only one employee on site, so it did take quite a while to get going while we waited for her to serve the people before us, get their boats and life jackets, fill out our waivers, get our boat and lifejackets etc…The boys didn’t mind as they ran around the grass and ate 52 snacks.
My husband was super impressed with the equipment (it’s all brand new) and great quality. I’d made sure to check the weather before we headed out (beautiful, warm and sunny), but hadn’t thought to check the wind. So when the boys paddled back after only 30 minutes, their dad gave me a withering look when I said “How come you’re done already?”, and offered me a paddle. So ya, if you want to meander, make sure it’s a really, really calm day as otherwise it’s some heavy duty paddling.
There was no one available to help get the massive canoe out of the water, so my manly husband showed off his strength and prowess by portaging that thing himself while I swooned at his power. Actually, I might have said “Show off!”
The Mac Paddle Shack is open during the summer Friday to Sunday 12:00pm – 7:30 pm *weather permitting.
PLEASE make sure to check their FB page Paddle Mac for current updates.