Ice Canoeing in Quebec City – What To Expect

Before coming to Quebec City, I had never heard of Ice Canoeing. But I knew I wanted to try it and see if it would be as fun as it sounded and if it would be a good thing to do with teens in Quebec City!

Ice Canoeing experience in Quebec City.

History of Ice Canoeing

Ice Canoeing isn’t new. It started as a necessity to get people across the St Lawrence River. From there, it became a competitive sport and now a tourist activity. You won’t find it everywhere since the conditions must be right, but Quebec City is perfect for it.

Canot à Glace Expérience

Sauna at the Ice Canoeing experience in Quebec City.

We went ice canoeing with Canot à Glace Expérience, and the team was amazing, making the adventure that much better!

A lot of them are current or past Ice Canoeing competitors, and the owner has years of ice canoeing in his blood from his grandfather and father. There are lots of cool pictures around the shop showing you this history! Stop and check them out when you are done ice canoeing.

Getting Ready To Go Ice Canoeing

Carson getting ready to go Ice Canoeing in Quebec City!

When you arrive, you start by getting outfitted with everything you need so you don’t get wet out on the water. It was hard to believe that what they gave us would keep us dry, but it did!

You start by putting on a wet suit booty/socks and, from there, adding leg coverings/pads—very similar to what I wore when I played catcher in fast-pitch softball. On top of the leg pads, you put an additional wet suit covering. Add wet suit boots and your crampons to go over the boot with the spikes on the bottom so you can walk on the ice, and you are ready to go!

You build up a sweat while you are on the water, but both Carson and I kept our snow pants on, and we are glad we did. We also wore a warm winter jacket with a long-sleeve shirt. If you have a water-resistant/wind-breaker jacket, that would work better than a large winter coat. But if a large winter coat is all you have, go with it!

They also gave us a pair of thick, waterproof mittens, and we were ready to go!

It was COLD the day we went—in the single digits—but we were not cold on the water. You are working!

You get a video presentation in either English or Spanish on what you will be doing, and after that, they take you outside to practice in the canoe before you take off. There is rowing and transitioning. They go over all of it with you before you get in the water.

Ice Canoeing Experience

Ice Canoeing in Quebec City. One of our favorite things to do in Quebec City.

You and your team (three tourists and three workers) carry your boat into the water. These things aren’t light, but I can’t imagine that people used to do this with canoes made of trees back in the day!

Once in the water, off you go! The guides are well aware of the water and surrounding area and know where the tide is and what is happening with the current. We got lucky and had a great current going downstream. Then, the tide changes and goes in the other direction to bring us home.

We heard on our trip we went almost double what normally happens since the tide and timing happened to be in our favor that day. Score!

On The Water

On the water with our crew when we were ice canoeing in Quebec City!

When you are out on the water, there are three guests and two – three guides (one in front, one in the back, and one in the middle (if you have three guides)). Everyone is rowing, and when you hit the ice, the guides tell you, and you continue to row over the ice—if possible.

If there is too much river ice to row through, you ground the boat on the ice, and everyone transitions into position to “run” the boat over the ice. If possible, choose the “easier” transition where you don’t have to climb along the side of the boat – but in either case, you will get the hang of it. I practiced climbing along the side of the boat, but once on the water, I got the easier option.

When you transition, you work with the person you are assigned to. Together, you both go over your side of the boat, get your knees in the hammocks on the side of the canoe, and take the other foot out of the boat so you can push off on the ice and transition your canoe over the ice.

It was work, but it was also crazy how the boat kept moving over the ice. Our guides made that part easier for us!

Sometimes, you transition over the ice; other times, you stop to take a break.

Hot Chocolate and energy ball break when we were ice canoeing in Quebec City.

At about the halfway point, you take a break on the ice and have some hot chocolate and an energy bar. From there you get moving again and start to make your way back.

The Sauna

Picture out of the sauna at the Ice Canoeing Experience.

When you are done and have gone back to remove your gear, you can head to their sauna. It is situated right on the side of the river and is a perfect place to warm up and take in the beauty of the river before heading back out in Quebec City.

You can bring a suit or just go in with your clothes on. But no shoes allowed!

Should You Do It With Kids?

It was a challenging and magical experience, and the guides were great at encouraging and keeping everyone feeling safe and having fun! I went with my 16-year-old son, who plays football and is into weightlifting, so the trip was no problem for him!

I would say any teenagers who are active in sports or working out would be fine and would enjoy the experience!

If you are up for the challenge and looking for something unique to do, you will want to check out the Ice Canoeing with Canot à Glace Expérience in Quebec City.

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Ice canoeing in Quebec City is the ultimate in outdoor winter adventure! In our post we share what the experience was like and if you should bring kids! Make sure to add Ice canoeing as a top thing to do in Quebec City and on your Canada bucket list!

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