Resource Guide

Keeping The Winter blues Away

Author: Andrew Watt

If winter could call it quits anytime soon, that would be great. I'm just here, waiting... But who am I kidding? It's wishful thinking as winter drags on a while longer. I sincerely hope our furry groundhog friends see their shadow in a couple weeks.

One thing winter does afford, especially if you’re a mild-weather outdoor enthusiast like me, is time to plan, dream, and absorb as much information as possible. I thought I would share some of the resources that help me discern exactly what I may get up to this coming paddling season. This is not a how-to blog— you can find that here.


What I will share are some of the resources I use to calculate distance, research routes, and generally get into the paddling mood when there is three feet of ice on the lakes and snow everywhere. Sigh.

Online Planning Resources

Google Maps

This is my go-to (Apple Maps for you iPhone users). This website/app lets you get a bird’s-eye view of anywhere in the world. I really enjoy the satellite imaging and the measuring tool, which helps you find the approximate distance of your lake or river trip—all while sitting on your couch. Think of the measuring tool as the modern version of using the map scale and a wing compass (ask your parents, grandparents, or Google what a wing compass is).

Google Maps >


If you click on the Explore dropdown, and then select EO browser, you will have access to some of the most up to date satellite imagery of the planet. I mainly use this app in early spring to determine if the ice has melted on lakes from my hit list. Be forewarned, this is not a paddling-specific website; it's more geared towards the scientific community and isn’t super straightforward to use at first, but worth the effort once you get the hang of it.

Sentinelhub >

Paddling Maps

This is an epic app/website that AQ Outdoors, along with some of our stellar industry partners, created to help make finding paddling locations easy. With lots of options in Alberta and worldwide, it also allows you to log your own trips. Definitely worth the click— keep an eye open for updates and new features, as it's always expanding.

Paddling Maps >

Offline Planning Resources

Mark's Guide for Alberta Paddlers

Available at AQ Outdoors, is what's widely regarded as the paddling bible of Alberta. It covers the majority of navigable rivers in the province, detailing historic water levels, distances between major points, campsites, and other notable features you may encounter on your adventures. Mark, the author, is local to Edmonton and has a wealth of paddling knowledge— plus, he's a genuinely friendly person to chat with if you ever get the chance.

Mark's Guide for Alberta Paddlers >

NTS Maps

(Canadian National Topographic System Maps)

These can typically be purchased from any reputable online map retailer and will provide a paper or plastic-coated copy of the grid needed for your trips. Paddlers typically opt for the 1:50 000 maps. You may also be able to view them at your local public or university library. To learn more about the NTS map grid system, check out this link: National Topographic System Index Maps.

Canadian National Topographic System Maps >

Go Trekkers Maps

These maps highlight popular routes and trips across the province and country, making them accessible and easy to read. They also offer details on key features along your route, such as rapid locations, campsites, historical points of interest, and more.

Available in person at AQ Outdoors.

Stoking the fire of anticipation


I don’t need to say much on this one— there are heaps of videos covering every paddling topic imaginable. When following online safety tips, stick to reputable sources. I highly recommend checking out AQ Outdoors' YouTube channel (link below) where shop owner Simon and other staff share valuable advice, reviews, and lessons. It's well worth a watch.

AQ Outdoors' YouTube channel >

NFB Canada

(National Film Board)

This is the online hub for Bill Masons' videos, one of the most iconic Canadian canoeists, as well as other vintage paddling videos. It's worth exploring. I recommend searching for the term "canoe" to find the best content.

Recommended vintage videos include: Bill Masons' Waterwalker and Song of the Paddle. While you’re here why not relive your childhood and watch the Log Drivers Waltz?

NFB Videos >

Major Motion Pictures

We all know a few. It’s a great way to keep paddling on your mind over the colder months. Using key paddling words in the search bar is a great way to finds detailed lists of paddling movies. From there, you can stream or purchase them through your favorite service.

Major Movie Pictures >

Keep the "I Want to be Paddling Blues" Away

I know it's so 1990s of me, but don't overlook the value of picking up the phone and calling some of the local shops and outfitters in the area you’re heading. They can offer a wealth of knowledge and resources. As someone who works in a paddle shop, those are my favorite calls to answer.

Hopefully my brief list of resources can help keep the “I want to be paddling blues” away. As Hal and Jo always say, keep fit and have fun!