Along its course, the river widens into several lakes, including Onwatin in Hanmer; Kusk off Panache Lake Road (watch out for leeches); Grassy; and Wabagishik, out on the fringes of Ward 2. Lake Wabagishik was made famous by the Group of Seven. Franklin Carmichael painted the lake in 1928 and if you have ever paddled along its waters, you will understand why he was inspired. At the southern end of Wabagishik is a set of rapids where the river narrows once again. It is very picturesque.
I fell in love with the Vermilion River last year when I decided to paddle this stretch in early October. The colours were just starting to pop and the riverbanks were explosively yellow and bright. It was like travelling through the sun. I bottomed out about six times and had to drag my kayak through the chilly shallow waters, but it was well worth the effort.
Wabagishik Rapids, Vermilion River
The Vermilion River has been under threat from the proposed development of 4 modified run-of-river hydroelectric facilities since finding out about them late in 2010. The proposed Wabagishik Rapids Generating Station was the first of the 4 to move forward, and in November of 2013, the Vermilion River Stewardship, Ontario Rivers Alliance, and over twenty other individuals and organizations made Part II Order requests to the Minister of Environment, indicating that in our opinion Xeneca Power Development Inc. (Xeneca) did not meet the requirements of the Class EA for Waterpower in several areas, and requested that the Environmental Report (ER) be elevated to an Individual Environmental Assessment, a more rigorous environmental assessment. Read more →
Site of the 4th in a series of hydroelectric dams proposed for the Vermilion River. The powerhouse would be located only meters away from a public beach at Centennial Park.
The proposed dam is a “modified run of river” which entails rapid and extreme changes in water flow velocity and levels several times daily under some flow conditions, and holding water back in head ponds for several hours, and sometimes days in order to release during peak demand hours to generate power.
This type of operating strategy can make ice conditions unstable and unsafe during winter months, and make swimming, fishing, boating or in-water recreation extremely dangerous. Vermilion River Stewardship is opposed to this type of hydroelectric dam.