Jefferson Ridpath: April 2008 Archives

A few ice-out photos

Here are a few photos taken by my mother—Virginia—on Thursday afternoon and Friday showing the rapid clearing of Canoe Lake.

Still ice-covered on Thursday, April 24th.    [Photo by Virginia Ridpath]

Starting to open up.    [Photo by Virginia Ridpath]

Gone! Friday, April 25th.    [Photo by Virginia Ridpath]

You never know what ice-out will bring...    [Photo by Virginia Ridpath]

Ice going out today!

Yes, it's official. I just spoke with my father up on Canoe Lake and the ice is essentially out now (1:30 PM), and there will only be some large rafts of slushy ice left by dusk today.

The lake was almost entirely covered with loose, chunky ice at nightfall last night, and even to a certain extent early this morning. But there has been some wind and the main body of it has been moving around the lake, and breaking up all morning. As of about noon most of the north end, and more then half of the south end were open, and there was a large mass of ice and slush being blown against the east shore and into the Portage Store bay. Boats were spotted moving around inside the P-Store bay, but it isn't clear how easy it would be to get through the barrier and out into the lake.

Congratulations to everyone who picked today, Friday 25 April, and especially to Jason Stark who was the first in line. Jason emailed me on March 25th to pick today:

Good morning, I'd like to submit for April 25th. Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for the great website I have been checking it for the last 5 or so years as we trip every year for either opening week or 1st week of May. We appreciate your updates and time spent.

Have a great trip Jason!

Condolences to my good friend Scott Murray who was first in line for yesterday and who would have been a three-time winner had the ice gone out just 12 hours earlier!

And thanks to everyone (155 people!) who submitted a date this year—it's been the biggest year yet for Canoe Lake Ice-out.

There will be a few more posts—hopefully with some photos from today—so keep checking in now and again. And if there is any news throughout the year I'll send a message to the mailing list, so sign up over there on the right if you haven't already.

Happy ice-out everyone!

Update from Canoe Lake - not today!

And probably not tomorrow, or Saturday for that matter...

I received a phone call an hour ago from my mother (Virginia) who, with my father, was able to reach our cottage on the west shore of Canoe Lake by paddling up from Tea/Bonita and working along a narrow band of water to within about 500 meters of our cottage.

The news is not good. Despite some recent reports that the ice would be out by today, there is still a lot of ice on the lake. There is a small amount of open water at the south end, in the mouth of the Oxtongue river, and gaps of no more than a few meters along the shore in some places. But the main body of the lake looks pretty solid still, with very few (if any) significant gaps or cracks.

Unfortunately, without some serious sunshine, rain and especially wind I don't think we're going to see the ice go before Sunday. But stay tuned here for updates directly from Canoe Lake where my agents will be on site, hopefully until Saturday.

UPDATE: I just spoke with my father (6 PM Thursday) and he reports that the ice is weaker than it appeared at first and is moving south on the lake. He speculates that there is open water at the north end, and that the ice could well go out tomorrow.

Any day now?

There are a number of people on Canoe Lake now, and some of them are saying the ice will go out "any day now." But I'm not convinced. Between the aerial shots from yesterday's Algonquin Park flight, and reports from a week or so ago of a couple of feet of ice, I think we've got a few more days yet.

My guess now is Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

I'll have a direct line from the West shore of Canoe Lake as of tomorrow (Thu) afternoon -- my father is heading up in the morning to try our old trick of paddling up the river from Bonita Lake and in through the open water along the shore. So look for an on-site report late tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile, here's a great aerial shot of Cache Lake taken by
Henry Brown a few days ago.

Cache Lake from the air, April 19th, 2008.    [Photo by Henry Brown]

Algonquin Park ice condition update

The flight by Algonquin Park staff I mentioned last week took place yesterday and the results are posted here.

Unfortunately, they didn't have much to say...

All lakes remain ice-covered. Ice thickness is variable throughout the Park. Another flight is scheduled for Friday morning (April 25th) -- weather permitting -- to determine the extent of ice conditions on lakes and rivers.

There are photos from the flight on the Algonquin Outfitters blog, although none of Canoe, Tea, or Smoke Lakes -- the closest is Source Lake which looks pretty tightly packed still (as do most of the other lakes pictured).

Not accepting any new predictions

We're getting a little too close to ice out for me to accept any more date selections. Thanks to everyone who picked a date -- we reached 155 this year, nearly twice the previous record.

Stay tuned for updates from folks in or near Algonquin throughout this week -- I think we're getting pretty close!

Getting warmer!

We've had several amazing days in a row here in Toronto, and also up in Algonquin. And the forecast for next week seems to be for lots of sun and daytime highs in the 20° C range. I'm staring to think my date of May 3rd might be a little late :-)

Thanks to Martin Rus for this report from this past Tuesday:

"I thought I'd pass along the following information after looking at the site. I drove through Algonquin this past Tuesday afternoon, where many of the major lakes were still largely frozen over. I stopped over at Canoe Lake on my way back, around 4:30 or so, and at the Portage store area, the bay was still completely frozen over, with weak ice at the edge closest to the lot. I'll add that temperatures here west of the park went up to near 20 yesterday, and probably the same today, so the same will likely apply in the park.

Snow & ice conditions from Algonquin Park site

Thanks to Joel Arthurs for letting me know that Algonquin Park has begun posting spring snow & ice conditions on their web site, here.

Unfortunately, the news is pretty grim...

Ice Conditions: All lakes are ice-covered with only small ponds and fast-flowing creeks beginning to open up. We remind everyone to stay off the ice.

Access Roads: Access roads are snow-covered and impassable.

They are planning a flight over the Park to assess ice conditions some time closer to the end of the month, so stay tuned.

On the Scene with Algonquin Outfitters

Gordon Baker of Algonquin Outfitters wrote to let me know that they are posting regular snow/ice updates, including pictures from many of the lakes in Algonquin, on their blog:

"We have started regular ice-out updates on the Algonquin Outfitters blog. I have posted links to your site in a few places. As of today, there are relatively up-to-date pictures of the ice situation on major lakes on the Hwy 60 corridor, including Canoe, Smoke, Cache, LTR and Opeongo."

The latest update is from last Thursday, April 10th -- definitely worth a look.

Report from Mew Lake (April 5-6)

A report and a couple of photos from Mew Lake the weekend before last, courtesy of Kevin Worsley:

"I was up at Mew Lake on April 5th and 6th. The weather was awesome but there was a ton of snow and ice. Here is what we saw. The picture with the hole in the ice, it was not through the ice all the way yet I could not get the hatchet all the way through."


Photos by Kevin Worsley

Winter still...

It was a glorious weekend here in the city and up on Canoe Lake, but, as Hugh Statten reports, the ice has more than a little way to go still:

“Roy, Derek and I did manage to make up to Canoe Lake last weekend. We were in constant need of better adjectives to describe the weekend as it rolled along. There were no clouds from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon and temperatures reached thirteen. By Saturday evening the top three inches of ice had melted only to refreeze that night. There were small areas of open water between Mannings and the Crook's cottage but our water hole was still two full feet thick. I think your prediction for Iceout will be very close.”

Canoe Lake (and Marley) from ice level, April 5th, 2008.    [Photo by Hugh Statten]

Call for reports & photos

If anyone reading this site is up in Algonquin (and especially on Canoe Lake) in the next week or two, please drop me a quick email ( and let me know what you saw. And if you have photos you don't mind sharing please pass them along and I'll post them here.

Starting to warm up

Finally! It looks like spring is getting underway. We had a beautiful, sunny weekend in Toronto and the forecast for Algonquin this week is consistently above zero during the days, and just above zero for several of the nights. Also, looks like there is some rain coming later in the week and that always helps soften up the ice.

The warmer weather has arrived about ten days later than it has in recent years, so I think we're looking at ice out in the last week of April, or the first few days of May.

100 predictions!

With Jim McFarland's choice of April 26th we crossed the 100 mark! Thanks to everyone who has submitted a date so far—keep spreading the word.


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