I had always liked being outdoors but like many, did little when younger. I think it came from going to my uncles camp in the Laurentian's when I was 6 or 7 years old. I remember watching thunderstorms rolling by from the porch open to the lake. Uncle Phil was the real deal, hunting, trapping and fishing. He moved his car garage - by himself - at 80 years of age. You never forget.
After a big hiatus I started doing day trips. When visiting Vancouver, Garibaldi park was irresistible. I did the Rubble Creek to Garibaldi Lake and trails up to Taylor Meadows which are difficult enough for a single day. Tried a few others in the area. I did a moderate 3 day hike to Panorama Ridge and back. This park is just a great area to hike with lots of various types of terrain.
It became apparent that I too would suffer the great mid life crisis, I decided to start doing more outdoor activities - while I was able. I took up skiing for a while but decided my knees were worth more than what I was getting out of skiing.
I took a river kayak course in 1996 and found it too strenuous fighting the river. River kayaks are designed for manoeuvrability and are inherently unstable. I then went with several organized sea kayak trips around Montreal and liked that more. I then took more instruction and went on a 3 day paddle near the middle of the Saguenay Fjord in Quebec. It rained once - but really hard. We waited for 3 foot wind driven waves to calm down a bit before re-crossing the Fjord again. It was still a ride to remember even in 2 place boats. That was just a week before the Saguenay Flash Flood happened.
In 1998 I went looking for a kayak to buy and tried a few hard shells. I tried a Romvary which is basically a British racing boat - very fast and very unstable. Others were kinda slow or did not fit me well. And then there is the storage issues. Where does one put a 17 foot boat in the winter? How to travel with it? The decision was to get a folding boat - and I went with the best - a K1 from Feathercraft. It's a soft skin design with a frame - just like Inuit boats of long past that were made of whale bone and seal skin. I can't roll it as I think the seat back is too high and the side sponsons interfere too much, (maybe it's just me) but it's easy to get back in from the rear or using a paddle float. It's great plowing into waves - less so with a running sea (wind and waves from behind) as it wants to veer and roll a bit. It's a great ride. There have been scientific performance studies on ancient kayak designs that the K1 is based on. The Inuit got it right empirically. So did Feathercraft.
I have paddled in Haida Gwaii (old name: Queen Charlotte Islands), Lake Superior and the Sagueney Fjord in organized groups and solo in Georgean Bay Killarney area, the Yukon river headwaters, Key West and of course in and around Montreal, Quebec. Haida Gwaii has to be the best experience so far. Lake Superior was - rough, wet and windy.
In the southern Quebec's Laurentian playground north of Montreal, being so built up with cottages since the 50's and 60's, getting smaller lake access can sometimes be a problem. You have to be creative. You can find ways - maybe the end of a dirt road gets you close enough. Example: Lac Tremblant has no official boat access so you cut across a little city park to launch. Further north is no real problem as some lakes have Federal public access docks or aren't surrounded by many homes.
Myself on Lake Maligne, Alberta
Windless late summer day, Lake Maligne, Alberta
Frosty mornings in July, small glacier in background
Tagish Lake, Yukon Territory, one of 3 big southern lakes at the head of the Yukon river. I went from Carcross to Tagish, an easy but cold 3 day trip. You can see the bottom of Tagish Lake from almost anywhere because there is no glacial silts that color many lakes blue. The Yukon river becomes quite narrow near Whitehorse. The current can be quite quick in places. It's possible to go all the way to the Bearing Sea via the Yukon River, a distance of over 3000 km.
Haida Gwaii is a world heritage site and is carefully watched over by the Haida Nation Peoples. Here we switch paddling groups while the tide goes out.
New friends in the large Seward K2's in protected waters, possibly around Juan Perez Sound, Haida Gwaii. The boats are real heavy, they have food and lots of fresh water as we are in the pacific waters of course. We saw dolphins swimming by once, they really move along. We caught salmon and dog fish to supplement planned lunches.