Do you drink the water in Algonquin Park?

I got an email from someone planning a trip to Algonquin Park this spring and he posed me the question. It’s a good one. And while I hasten to add I’m no expert, I’m making my response into a post because… uh… I need a post today and it’s an interesting question.

I use a filter pump. It’s one of these things where the risk associated with not using it may be low but the consequences of being ‘unlucky’ are serious and avoiding the risk is not a huge pain.

The thing is, the water may seem perfectly clear and drinkable but around the corner there may be a beaver dam that you can’t see.

When I was in Papineau-Labelle, my partner and I were on this lovely pristine lake when we saw this odd, red-brown coloured rock sticking out of the water. As we approached it we saw it was covered with flies. A little closer and we saw that it was in fact a deer carcass. If we’d dipped and sipped anywhere near there I’d bet we would have had some serious diarrhea or worse.

You consume most of your water when you’re in camp cooking. And water near the shore is always going to have naturally occurring cruddies in it. So unless you want to paddle out to the middle of the lake to fill up your bottles, a pump is a much better option.

And it’s vastly better than the method I remember from my days as a kid and a camp counsellor where we’d pour a bit of bleach into the water before drinking it.


  1. A few drops of bleach and Orange Tang added to lake water, the luke warm beverage of Ponacka canoe trippers for decades! Add in a couple of suicide sandwiches (pb, jelly and cheez whiz) you have a gourmet floating lunch ready to go!

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