Route Champlain takes you to lakes like this one, reflecting the setting sun, fluffy clouds and surrounding forest.

Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park | SÉO

Ontario's Route Champlain

Route Champlain takes you to lakes like this one, reflecting the setting sun, fluffy clouds and surrounding forest.

Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park | SÉO

Route Champlain is inspired by Samuel de Champlain’s great expedition of 1615–1616 across Ontario. Enjoy exhilarating outdoor adventures and amazing cultural sites. Create your own personalized experience with the comfort of 21st-century amenities. Customize your adventure by choosing a themed itinerary.

History enthusiasts and those amazed by the courage of the first voyageurs will welcome you along Route Champlain. They offer outdoor, culinary, cultural and historical experiences showcasing Ontario’s French and Indigenous heritage.

Travel by car, RV, motorcycle or bike, and choose from a wide range of accommodations and campgrounds. Explore part or all of this 1,500-kilometre route taken by Champlain.

  • Explore bike paths and hiking trails through breathtaking scenery in provincial parks and conservation areas.
  • Experience canoeing adventures inspired by the routes of First Nations peoples and explorers.
  • Want more excitement? Go white-water rafting.
  • Enjoy culinary experiences that showcase local products.
  • Visit Indigenous and Franco-Ontarian cultural and historical sites and museums and learn about their history.

A short history of Route Champlain

Samuel de Champlain was a French cartographer, explorer, naturalist and ethnographer. He was one of the first Europeans to explore Ontario with a vision to establish a New France in America. He founded the city of Quebec in 1608. He was nicknamed the Father of New France because of his key role in the colonization of the continent.

He could not have carried out his explorations without the help of many Indigenous nations along his journey. Samuel de Champlain fostered relationships (albeit misguided) with these First Nations peoples. He relied heavily on their skill, knowledge and hospitality. This contact is also the central focus of Route Champlain.

He carried out many expeditions between 1604 and 1635. In 1615, he set out west. He and his crew navigated the Ottawa River, the Mattawa River, Lake Nipissing, the French River and the waters of Georgian Bay in search of a suitable site to establish a settlement and a route to the “northern sea.” This trip had a direct impact on Ontario’s history. It was also the inspiration for Ontario’s Route Champlain.

Things to do along the route

Today, Route Champlain’s often unchanged landscapes allow you to travel back in time. Explore the many areas in your own way. You can follow an already mapped-out regional or thematic itinerary and travel by car, RV or even bicycle.

Downloadable PDF guides are provided for each itinerary, with an overview of suggested attractions, trip details and additional maps.

Regional routes

Route Champlain offers a long trip that follows Champlain’s voyage by canoe. It is easily divided into five regional routes.

Map of the seven regions covered by the Route Champlain.
Route Champlain | Courtesy of SÉO

In its entirety, Route Champlain covers much of Ontario—from the Ottawa River in the east, to North Bay and Lake Nipissing in the north, to Georgian Bay in the west, and to the Rideau Canal and Lake Ontario in the south.

Each route differs in length and offers an array of experiences. They reflect the explorer’s legacy, honour the Indigenous nations of the territory and celebrate Franco-Ontarian culture.

Ottawa and Countryside

Embark on a fascinating historical tour in and around the nation’s capital and discover unique natural and cultural heritage, as well as delicious food and drink. And don’t miss the statue of Champlain holding his astrolabe (an ancient astronomical instrument that was also used by seafaring explorers) at Nepean Point behind the National Gallery of Canada. 


Duration: 4 days

Ottawa Valley and the Gateway to the North

Guided by First Nations, Champlain navigated portions of the Ottawa River up to the Mattawa River. Tackle the same rapids on a white-water rafting adventure and take in the scenic beauty of the Ottawa Valley.


Duration: 2 days

Georgian Bay (Explorer’s Edge and Georgian Bay Shore)

Explore Georgian Bay in a kayak and its shorelines by bike—one of the main routes traveled by the first French coureurs de bois. To the west are the 30,000 islands where Champlain meandered, and to the east, the chains of lakes attract outdoor adventurers and nature lovers.


Duration: 3 days

Simcoe, Trent-Severn Waterway and Northumberland

Over 120 years ago, engineers traversed 386 kilometres of waterways to create the navigable Trent-Severn, an integral part of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System, with its high locks and marine railways—something Champlain would have appreciated.

Discover the impressive history of the canoe in Canada, learn about the area’s culture at local museums, and enjoy the region’s famous apple pies, local beers and wines.


Duration: 3 days

Prince Edward County and Rideau Canal

Champlain was captivated by the beauty of the shores of the St. Lawrence during his military expedition. Now it’s your turn to revel in what he described as “a most beautiful and pleasing land.”


Duration: 4 days

Cycling routes

Cyclists are welcome on Route Champlain! Five cycling routes of different intensities (described in English) cover different regions:

Travel tips and resources

Trip planning maps and guides

The interactive map on the Route Champlain website provides useful information about attractions, businesses and accommodations along the route. Downloadable PDF guides are provided for each itinerary, along with suggested tours, trip details and additional maps.

Please note that many tourist sites are open seasonally. Check with each attraction, business or establishment for more details.

Route Champlain blog

Switch to virtual discovery mode on the Route Champlain blog.

Learn about Champlain’s astrolabe and the incredible maps he created with this fascinating object, discover a long-forgotten New France settlement, or learn about French-speaking communities on the route.

For more information on Francophone experiences in Ontario, visit Salut Canada This site offers a wealth of helpful tips on things to do, places to explore and trips to take (articles available in French only).

French language services

French-language services are available all along the route. The level of services in French offered by each business or attraction is indicated by a logo on the Route Champlain map.

Blue French language service classification logo. =  services in French at all times

Green French language services classification logo.= services in French upon request

Yellow French language services classification logo.= promotional items and/or documentation in French

For more information on French-language experiences in Ontario, visit Salut Canada. This site offers a wealth of helpful tips on things to do, places to explore and trips to take (articles available in French only).

Last updated: April 29, 2024

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