Exposing the Mysteries of the Upper Nith

Wilderness and seclusion is not always a forest in some Northern destination, but can sometimes be hidden away in your own backyard.

The secluded Upper Nith can be found meandering through miles of concealed forest, found starting near the small farming towns of Ayr and Wolverton. There are a few remains of early settler civilizations scattered around the banks of the Nith. They serve as a reminder to travellers that this river was once known for its history of supplying these small towns with their power before the days of electricity, and the limestone along the banks became the basis for these forgotten structures. These abandoned dams and interesting turns in the river add an exciting backstory to an otherwise peaceful Nith River

While the Upper Nith does not have the wild whitewater that the Lower Nith is known for, it offers a unique paddling adventure through forgotten and unknown parts of Southern Ontario, revealing the amazing settlement history of the area, transporting travellers back more than 100 years.

Guides will teach you how to improve your paddling skills and read the currents of the Nith, while telling you about the story of a little hamlet outside of Paris, named Canning. Known as Mudge Hollow historically, Canning was home to one of history’s most infamous Wild West outlaws for a short time. Myth says that Jesse James had called Mudge Hollow home after running from American lawmakers. James ended up settling down in Mudge Hollow, buying a farm with cash and courting the prettiest girl in town. When the Pinkertons caught up to him, they thought they had Jesse James pinned down in his farmhouse, throwing a bomb in through the window. Little did they know, James had already taken off and was once again out of their reach.

While maybe a little less wild, Canning has been home to another kind of hero. this time a hockey hero. The Gretzky family actually still owns property in the little town of Canning, with the grandparents of Wayne Gretzky calling it home. There is a painting of The Great One skating on the Nith River as a young boy, with a dedication written by his father Walter.

There are plenty of tales to tell about this long forgotten and often overlooked river, including the history of ancient Native battles and the lost settlement of Riverside. Along the river, the graves of many Baptist immigrants from New Brunswick stand alongside a marker that states the settlers made their way here to the banks of the Nith in 1828. They worshiped alongside the Nith until 1875, now all that remains are their graves and a plaque where the settlement of Riverside once stood.

This modest river is often overshadowed by it’s twin, the Grand River, but this obscurity leads to undiscovered treasures and a twisting adventure through Southern Ontario.

There is a little known about the ebbs and flows of this river but one thing can be certain, this is trip that can only run for a limited amount of time. This river is only navigable in the months following the winter melt, otherwise it retires to a trickle until next year. Book your trip today.