Off-the-chart rapids, natural scenic features and incredible wildlife like polar bears, harbour seals and beluga whales make Manitoba’s Seal River an awe-inspiring experience. Only the most intrepid souls make the trip.
Seal River paddling photo in header by Eric Lindberg.
One of Manitoba’s largest undeveloped river systems, the Seal flows fast and freely across the province’s remote and majestic north en route to Hudson Bay. It’s a rugged but exhilarating whitewater journey for experienced paddlers only.
The Seal has been used for thousands of years as a travel route and was especially attractive for early caribou hunters and anglers. Ancient campsites, some more than 6,000 years old, have been found on eskers in the region.
The North and South Seal Rivers come together north of Tadoule Lake in the boreal forest, where Dene still live and hunt today. From here, the Seal River flows north through stunted spruce and tamarack with flattened, club-shaped tips-an area early Aboriginal peoples called the Land of Little Sticks.
The river continues east to Hudson Bay, tumbling over challenging rapids and alongside boulder fields that give stretches of the river a moonscape quality. The Seal rushes through scenic gorges and over sandpits and bars. Wildflowers and mosses decorate the riverbanks and blanket the land during the brief, bright summers from June to August.
The Seal River may be the best place in the world to see seals in freshwater before they return to traditional marine habitat 160 kms (96 miles) down river. The region is also home to golden and bald eagles, wolves, moose and, in June and July, thousands of beluga whales.
Because there is no road access, your canoeing adventure begins long before you get to the water. To travel the Canadian Heritage River portion of the route by canoe, travellers must first fly to the community of Tadoule Lake, accessible from Winnipeg, Thompson or Gillam. From there, canoeists begin their journey on the South Seal, a tributary 35 kms (21 miles) northeast of the Seal River. The main event will take paddlers roughly 300 km (180-miles) downstream to Hudson Bay.
Northern Soul Wilderness Outfitters and Wilderness Spirit offer multi-day, guided adventures of Seal River. Churchill Wild offers a beautiful heritage lodge which is home to multiple tours around Seal River.