I recommend Poisson Blanc for an introduction to canoe camping or an easy-going paddling trip.
This municipally-owned park is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa. You can reserve one of the many picturesque islands for yourself, and have firewood, ice, and water delivered to your campsite! One bag of firewood (delivered) is included in the reservation, as well as a waterproof map of the lake. Canoe, sea kayak, and SUP rentals are available at the park and reserved on their website. We found that the rentals were in great condition and the island was well-maintained. The staff was welcoming and seemed to genuinely care about the park and the outdoors.
We left after work on Friday, May 19 and arrived at 7:15 pm, later than anticipated. While the park office closes later on Fridays (8 pm), we had chosen Site 45 which is 10 km away and predicted to be 2.5 hours away by canoe. Manoeuvring in the dark was difficult, and having a very bright flashlight (my bike light) was helpful. As we were making our way over to our island, we would pass other sites and see people all cozy by their campfires. Finally, we made it to our site, and we were grateful that the bag of firewood included kindling. There were two grills by the fire pit and we had delicious campfire cooking. One bag of firewood was enough for us to cook and warm up but a second or third bag ($6 each) is recommended for a lengthy fire. We left on Saturday at noon (check-out time) and it took us nearly twice as much time to get back – it was windy!
Motor boats are permitted on the lake and fishing season picks up on the May long weekend. While the campsites are not drive-in, it is more of a luxury backcountry experience given the motor boats, water/ice/firewood delivery, and higher quality of the benches, picnic table, sand pit, and outhouse.
The site only cost $40 instead of $60 due to low season, and the canoe rental was $25/day (with PFDs and paddles). Low season in the spring and fall is not only cheaper, there are also less bugs, and it might be quieter. However, swimming in the summer would be lovely! This trip was done with a 24 hour Vrtucar reservation + 3 additional hours.
Some pictures taken before leaving the island:
We had poutine and a hamburger on the way there from Casse Croûte La Fringale and tried Casse-Croûte Chez Paul across the street on the way back. The hamburger and gravy were better at La Fringale but the fries at Chez Paul were heavenly. Try both and let me know what you think?