The Shubenacadie Canal and Waterway has long been a great outing for recreational canoe trippers. It seems as if it was designed especially for those who enjoy the idea of completing a wilderness route from start to finish. 

In 1989, Canoe/Kayak Nova Scotia recognized the need for more information on the route and produced the first of its “Canoe Routes of Nova Scotia” series.


Lake Banook serves as the logical beginning for a paddling excursion, with its calm waters and accessible boat launch area. The lake is only 1.5 km long and has lots of activity with competitive canoe/kayak races, as well as rowing. Banook Canoe Club and Mic Mac A.A.C are both located on historic Lake Banook.

Lake Micmac is home to water skiers and jet-boats which means more care must be taken to ensure safe paddling. The many coves, abundant wildlife and the existence of the remnant canal structures make up for the extra care required.

A municipal campground is available in Shubie Park, on the portage and canal between Lake Micmac and the neighbouring Lake Charles. Lake Charles is also home to water skiers, but the lake is fairly long (4 km) and large enough to share with all user groups.

There is an increasing number of recreational canoe/kayakers on this lake recently, with the growing popularity of sea kayaks. The portage into Lake William is a fascinating trek through the history of the Canal Waterway, including one of its marine railroads. It is difficult to make this 1.5 km. passage with heavy boats.

Lake William, Lake Thomas and Lake Fletcher are all surrounded by rural and woodland areas, making the trip a diverse experience. Cottage owners on the lakes may also be enjoying the paddling opportunities.

The local paddling club, Cheema, also uses Lake Thomas daily, as children enjoy the calm waters for training.

Once at the northern end of Lake Fletcher, a few short portages are required to access Grand Lake. This lake is very large and often too windy for paddling. If activities are confined to the morning, when winds are calmer, paddlers can reach the campground at Laurie Provincial Park.

Another morning paddle, of 6.5 km. to the head of the Shubenacadie River, completes the lake section of the Canal. It is in Sandy Cove, just past Oakfield Picnic Park, that the route opens into a pleasant 40 km. of paddling down a meandering Shubenacadie River.

Once at the Village of Shubenacadie, the tidal portion of the route begins. When the tidal bore comes into the river the water action generates waves large enough to support white-water-rafting. Recreational canoeing becomes considerably more difficult during these times. Caution should be taken to plan your journey through this part of the river during times of the day when the tide is not creating rough water.

paddle boarding

In more recent years, paddle boarding has become a popular recreational experience on the stiller waters of the Shubenacadie Canal Waterway. While Lake Banook is a much-used spot for this fun activity, the Deep Cut section of the Canal Waterway at the Shubenacadie Park is a paddle boarder’s paradise with its long stretch of calm and flat waters.

flex water sports rentals (formally Freedom canoe & kayak)

Canoe, Kayak and Paddle Board rentals at Shubie Park. Click here for more details.

Canoe to the Sea

Sunday, June 16, 2019 - 8:00am to 4:00pm

The annual Fun Race on the Shubenacadie Canal and Waterway will be on the lakes this year. Visit our Canoe to the Sea page for more details.

Canoe to the Sea 2017

Canoe to the Sea 2017

Video of the 2016 Canoe to the Sea race, partly taken by a aerial drone.