November 7, 2010

Canoeing: Cathance leads to fall's beauty


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The waterfall at Cathance Road in Topsham is an impressive turn-around point for paddlers exploring the Cathance River.

Michael Perry photo

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An autumn paddle along a 5-mile stretch of the Cathance River, starting in Bowdoinham, provides smooth water for foliage reflections, along with plenty of birds.

Michael Perry photo

As we paddled back under the power line, we saw a distant white steeple on the hill above the river in Bowdoinham. Brilliantly lit by the sun it looked like Portland Head Light, a historic beacon guiding us back to town. We later walked up School Street to visit it. The Union Church from 1823 to 1883, it serves today as the Town Hall.

After your canoe exploration, take some time to walk around downtown Bowdoinham. There are a number of historic homes, churches and Grange halls.

The Town Landing Restaurant is a great spot to start and end your outing. It's famous for its corned beef hash breakfasts, and on Fridays offers homemade doughnuts. A display of adjoining topographic maps reaches from floor to ceiling, with your route up the river at eye level. The warmth of hearth and the friendly owner and patrons make this place hard to leave.

Small Maine towns have a sense of timelessness and peace. The message board at the entrance to the Bowdoinham Grocery Store was a case in point. Posted signs advertised just what you would expect: lost cats and dogs, firewood, snowplowing, and Butcher Boys Deer Cutting and Billy's Bottle Barn.

On the drive home we were already talking about where to go for our first outing next April.

Why not the Cathance, to see it awakening in its green spring colors, and to greet arriving birds we might have seen today?

Michael Perry is the former director of the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools and founder of Dreams Unlimited, specializing in inspiring outdoor slide programs. He may be contacted at:


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