Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Exploring nature from the water on Clayton Lake & Indian River

By Cliff Bennett

On an excellent Sunday morning, June 14, 2015, twenty members of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) took to the waters of Clayton Lake and the upper section of the Indian River in canoes and kayaks to explore nature on MVFN’s annual Spring Paddle.  Led by MVFN President Cliff Bennett, the flotilla of thirteen craft, seven canoes and six kayaks, meandered along the west side of the lake to Command Bridge on Galbraith Road in Lanark Highlands. Squeezing under the bridge, the group paddled easily up the Indian River, almost to the bridge at Halls Mills, but was stopped by a beaver dam.

Spring Paddle 1

Val Wilkinson and Cliff Bennett lead the way on Clayton Lake/Indian River MVFN paddle. Photo by Howard Robinson

Spring Paddle 2

The  flotilla winds its way along the Indian River. Photo Howard Robinson

After exploring the beaver dam and its construction, the paddlers returned to Clayton Lake, where they discovered a mature bald eagle, perched on a low bit of scrub on a minute island. The eagle watched cautiously as the flotilla passed by at a respectful distance and decided it wasn’t worth the bother to take off. Other birds of interest recorded by compiler Mary Robinson included two American bitterns in flight, an osprey scanning the surface looking for a fish, an Eastern wood-pewee and a winter wren in melodious rhapsody. In the distance a loon called mournfully, probably looking for its partner. Thirty-four species were counted in all. The list of birds seen is posted on MVFN’s website.

Spring Paddle 3
On Clayton Lake paddlers spot a mature bald eagle, perched in the distance on a low bit of scrub on a tiny island. Photo Howard Robinson

A brace of four painted turtles were found sunning on a log and a few dragonflies were picking off mosquitoes along the marsh plants. Freshly emerging wild rice was plentiful and several clumps of Northern blue flags were spotted along the marshy shore. Yellow pond lilies and fragrant white lilies were just beginning to burst forth.

After a lengthy paddle across Clayton Lake, all craft were beached at Howard and Mary Robinson’s lake front home for enjoyment of lunch and refreshments.

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists have organized canoe/kayak trips throughout the County and area for many years, with the theme being “Seeing Nature from the Water’s Edge”. The program consists of a series of day trips such as this spring paddle, as well as a four-day canoe camp in September.  The next day trip is scheduled for Sunday, July 12. For more information, please contact trip leader Sheldon Scrivens at ) or visit for program and membership details.

Spring Paddle 4

Turtles sunning on a log, dragonflies picking off mosquitoes, freshly emerging wild rice, clumps of Northern blue flags and yellow pond lilies all seen from the water. Photo Howard Robinson.

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MVFN Spring Paddle

Get your canoes, kayaks and paddles ready for Clayton and Taylor Lake and MVFN’s annual Spring Paddle!

Date: Sunday, June 14, 9:00 am.

Meeting place:  meet at 9 am at the Clayton Lake launch site by the dam in Clayton Village.

Bring: lunch, hat, bug juice, binoculars etc. Also you must ensure you have proper equipment including floatation gear, bailing bucket, heaving line etc.

Please note that you must pre-register for this event and your MVFN membership should be up-to-date. You may bring a friend or two.

For registration and information, please contact trip leader Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or .

NOTE: In case of foul weather, this event will be cancelled. If in doubt on the morning of the event, call Cliff before 8:00 am to confirm.

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MVFN’s Fall Paddle Photos

On the Fall Colours Paddle, held in September on White Lake, Brenda Boyd took some fabulous photos.  Some of them are posted here!

NOTE: MVFN’s canoe/kayak programme will resume in the Spring. The date has already been set for our MVFN Spring Paddle! It will be held on June 14, 2015 . Watch this site for details.

2014 Fall Paddle photo 1 B. Boyd

















2014 Fall Paddle photo 2 B. Boyd


















Brenda photo 3


















Brenda photo 4


















All photos by Brenda Boyd

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MVFN Fall Colours Tour

Paddle White Lake

Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014

To all members of our MVFN paddling fraternity,

The west end of White Lake is like northern lakes with rocky shores, islands, wetland coves, and bays. Join us for an interesting meander along shores and around islands, interesting creeks and marshes, rock formations and wild flowers. Maybe even a bald eagle. Great fall colours.

Organizer: Rob Andrews

Car Pooling Arrangements:

Eastern Lanark and area, meet at Union Hall at the corner of the Wolf Grove and County Road 29 for an 8:45 am departure

West Lanark, meet at Hopetown for 9:15 am departure.

Bring: Picnic lunch, water, binoculars, bug juice, sunscreen, life jackets (mandatory), bailer & whistle.

Please note: you must pre-register for this event.

For registration and further information, please contact Rob Andrews at  or 613-447-7154.

If you have a canoe and need a partner, or don’t have a canoe and would like to partner, please contact Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or and he will try to match you up.


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Post-Speaker Canoe/Kayak Trip to Appleton Wetland

Join us to view firsthand the devastation of the trees in Appleton Wetland.

Saturday, Sept 20, 2014 (rain date Sunday Sept 21)

10 am – noon

Meet at the Appleton Bay Park Boat Launch. Bring binoculars, sunscreen, and life jackets.

If you need to partner with someone who has a canoe, or if you have a canoe and want a partner, please contact Cliff.

NOTE:  a motorboat will be available (seats four plus driver).

For more information, please contact Cliff Bennett at 613- 256-5013 or

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