Canoe Trip To Spirit Island

Canoe Trip To Spirit Island

Cath Simard @mydetoxtravel takes us on a trip to Spirit Island, Canada.

It was late at night when we arrived at Maligne Lake. We decided to sleep in the parking lot, so we could leave early in the morning the next day. It was probably one of the coldest nights I’d experienced since arriving in Alberta, so I didn’t sleep very well. 6am was the wake up call. We started to get our stuff ready for our canoe trip to the famous Spirit Island.

About an hour later we left the shore and started paddling through a thick fog. The water was calm and mirrored the mountains on the water perfectly. We paddled in silence for an hour, blown away by the scenery we had in front of us. We saw a moose family on the shore. The male noticed our canoe and looked at us in a strange, but somehow profound way. As the sun was rising higher in the sky, the fog disappeared and our bodies started to warm up a little. The next few hours were spent paddling slowly, looking at the map and dreaming about Spirit Island that we would reach in a short few kilometres.

We saw a little patch of trees hanging over the water and I recognised it from all the photos I’ve seen before, I knew that was it. It looks so different from every angle, and it isn’t an island at all! We explored the area for a couple of hours and watched the sunset, talking about the story behind Spirit Island.

According to some accounts of First Nations mythology, Spirit Island gets its name from two young lovers from feuding tribes who used to meet secretly on the island. But when the young woman eventually confessed her forbidden affair to her father, one of the tribes’ chiefs banned her from ever returning. With a broken heart, her lover continued to return to Spirit Island throughout his life, in the hope of seeing his beautiful lover again. But she never came and he eventually died there, where his spirit still resides.

The paddle back to our campsite was short and calm. That night we were blessed with the northern lights dancing through the trees, creating unexpected shapes. I’ve never seen them so active and bright. It was hard to go to sleep after such a mesmerising day.


After our morning paddle back to Spirit Island, we made some coffee and breakfast on the dock. The water was so still and the air was crisp. I couldn’t believe what I had in front of my eyes. It really felt like I was still dreaming.

At 9am the first boat loaded with tourists arrived. We decided to pack up and leave before the chaos, in order to keep that feeling of quiet and peacefulness in our hearts. As soon as we left the shore, I felt nostalgia for this place. Maybe I left a part of my spirit on that island too.

For more adventures follow @mydetoxtravel on Instagram.

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