As part of a partnership with the CTC where journalists show how to Explore Canada Like a Local, Matador Ambassador Shon Bollock and whitewater champion Isaac Levinson travel from Quebec through the Ottawa River Valley.

THIS SUMMER, Isaac Levinson and I headed to Ontario and Quebec for 10 days. It was a very quick trip, but it opened my eyes to the incredible whitewater in eastern Canada.

Like anyplace, you want to connect with the local people and find out what they enjoy doing in their home terrain. The paddling community here is one of the largest — and with one of the highest concentrations of talented kayakers — anywhere in the world. There is always something to paddle here; the rivers run year round. Undoubtedly, the dynamic nature and size of the whitewater features here makes it the playground at the forefront of modern freestyle boating. But all this said, there’s a super friendly vibe, a sense of local boaters being proud of and excited to share their waves.

Montreal has so many elements I enjoyed and admired, starting with their BIXI, a system where you can take a bike like a taxi, and you’re only charged by the hour. In the few minutes we filmed the sequence in the video, there were 5-10 people who jumped on these bikes.

Food was also standout. Check some of the market produce above and also the meat and poutine. I’ll have more on this in forthcoming articles.

A quick word about access to outdoor adventure options as well: Montreal is one of the only major cities in the world with world-class whitewater features right in town (check the section of the Lachine Rapids from 2:54 to the end), and the entire corridor of the Ottawa River Valley has camping, hiking, cycling, and of course paddling options, all within 2-3 hours of the city.

Finally, this trip would’ve been nothing without the local support we received. Many thanks to the Canadian Tourism Commission for supporting the trip and Subaru Canada for facilitating travel. Shout out to Marcos Gallegos, LP, Duece, John Hastings, RIVERPLAY, and Tribe for all the hospitality!

This was filmed 100% on the GoPro Hero 2, with music by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Can’t Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton).”

Some heads up on spots:

  • 0:58 – Historic Capital of Ontario, Ottawa City exploring.
  • 1:22 – Lake Meech, Quebec, special thanks to John Hastings for showing us this spot.
  • 1:42RiverPlay in the Ottawa Valley. Special thanks to Tyler Curtis for hosting us dirt bag kayakers at his riverside homestead.
  • 2:14 – Garborator wave on the Ottawa. Special thanks to Jermey Cane for the gear hook up.
  • 2:54-end – Montreal and Lachine rapids on the St. Lawrence. Special thanks to Louis-Philippe Rivest and Quebec Connection for showing us around the city!