Day 21 – Voyage to salt water

Today we woke up early in our cozy quilt-covered beds in our four private rooms in the upstairs of the Moose River Guesthouse. We trickled downstairs to enjoy the substantial breakfast Candice had laid out for us — bagels, toast, homemade muffins, yogurt, fruit, cereal, eggs, juice and coffee — and yawned around, reading Candice’s old books about the history of the area, getting ready for our trip out to James Bay.

By 8am, we’d learned that we could go back to bed for an hour or so, as there was a big storm coming in, and Nolan wanted to wait until 10 to see what was going to happen. Nothing like curling back up in bed after a nice big breakfast for an extra nap before the day starts for real.

The sky started to clear, and Nolan Tozer and Jenn Little, the duo behind Moose River Tours, picked us up around 10. We boarded Nolan’s sturdy old cedar strip boat from the dock in ‘Tozer-ville’, the Tozer family business Bushland Airways’ headquarters, surrounded by floatplanes.

Nolan Tozer grew up in the bush and on the river, son of a bush pilot and legendary trapper. His parents say he’s the only child they never worried about — in fact, they wouldn’t even start to look for him until he was two days late coming back from an adventure. After he’d spent a few years working for Ontario Hydro in different areas in the north, Nolan’s partner Jenn — a paramedic from Kirby, Ontario, who moved to Moosonee for work three years ago and now can’t imagine leaving — encouraged him to start his own guiding company. And it definitely feels like it’s what he was meant to do. He’s full of stories about the history of the area, and information about the birds and animals. And with the kind of experiences he had in the wild growing up, he’s definitely qualified.

They took us down river, sharing interesting anecdotes for every passing island, flat, and sandbar. We spotted two eagles — a bald and a golden — and a blue heron, all relatively new to the area, Nolan says. He also had some slightly terrifying stories about black bears — the largest in Canada, they can get up to 800 pounds around Moosonee.

Then all of a sudden, the shore just opened up around us and there we were, floating by the tidal clay flats at the mouth of James Bay, eating Jenn’s homemade bannock, still warm.

And guys, it’s salt water.

Heading back to Moosonee, we found that storm we’d been worried about earlier, and plowed right through it. We were soaked to the skin and grinning ear to ear when Jenn and Nolan dropped us off at Candice’s to grab some dry clothes before we headed out for lunch.

They took us to the local hangout at the quarry, a creek-fed rock pool down the longest road in Moosonee, where we roasted smokies on the fire and were visited by a cheeky fox. Then they awesomely drove us back to the train station, and we loaded in for the five-hour return trip.

And then it was across the street in Cochrane, and back to the Best Western for a nice hot shower!

Tomorrow — A boat trip down Kenogamissi Lake with Wild Exodus Outfitters, and Marie’s homemade lunch at Post 392!

Photo by Alexandra Sawicki


  1. awesome trip. what else can one do in Moosenee ? I have about 3 hrs once train arrives. Thanks…Ron

    • Hey,
      We had an awesome time on the river with Jen Little and Nolan Tozer from Moose River Tours ( I’m sure if you give Nolan a ring he’d be happy to show you around – they can tailor anything from three hours to three days! If you haven’t booked accoms I highly recommend the Moose River B and B – honestly more cozy than my own house. We only had 8 hours to explore so that was the limit of our experience, but I hear the Hudson Bay Staff House was going to be open a day or so after we left. You might even consider asking the conductor if you can stand in the baggage car when the trail goes over the moose river. Pretty epic!

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