Backyard Treasures – East Point Lighthouse

Heather and I have lived in a bunch of amazing locations all across our great country, Oh Canada. This nation has so many special spots that no matter where we moved to, we found amazing places to explore in our own backyards, and we reminisce fondly about each of them. Northern Ontario offered breathtaking and expansive networks of lakes that are only seen along the Canadian Shield. The mountains on the West Coast were magical and the Pacific Ocean is where I had my introduction to sea kayaking. Eastern Canada has blessed us with miles of private beaches that we have almost always to ourselves. All of these places we have lived had these “backyard treasures.” They may not have been the spots that tourists would gather (although sometimes they did), but they were locations that really resonated, they were the ones that we continued to return to time and time again.

We consider ourselves lucky, as we already have a few spots like that here on Prince Edward Island and the focus of today’s blog is a little gem on the Eastern end of the Island. I have been making a habit now of enjoying this great half-day trip out to view the amazing East Point Lighthouse from the vantage that we all love – the seat of our kayaks. Paddling to the most easterly tip of the smallest province in Canada offers a unique experience for the properly equipped kayaker.

In 2019, I was lucky to head there twice with friends. My first visit was early in January for a paddle with good friend and fellow instructor, Jason Richard. We launched from the North Lake Harbour. This wharf is home to one of the largest lobster fishing fleets on Prince Edward Island.

North Lake Harbour (Meg Sullivan)

Paddling in early January meant that competition for parking space was not an issue, but water access and ice conditions can be an issue this time of year. We were lucky to grab a window where a relatively mild Fall and early Winter meant access at the wharf launch would work. No significant sea ice was present, and with light winds and no sea state it was a go for a beautiful morning paddle.

Leaving the wharf and heading out the run is a really cool experience. The large wood piling breakwater was built to ensure the lobster fleet and other users can gain easy access to the ocean from the small, protected North Lake Lagoon. This morning was cool and crisp with great visibility and two paddlers that were excited to do an early winter paddle in such great conditions.

Leaving North Lake Wharf

The trip from North Lake out to the most Easterly tip is approximately 8 km (and another 8km to return) and there are landing spots along the way. When you leave the run at North Lake you are greeted with an expansive view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. These are the fishing grounds that the fishing fleets work each spring for tasty lobster. For us paddlers it provides an environment that can be glassy during calm weather or can be quite angry if the wind is blowing. This shoreline is exposed to the north and there are no immediate islands to protect it, so on-shore winds can provide waves and angry foam piles, and if blowing hard enough or long enough can be quite violent. On the day we paddled it was flat calm and as we worked our way towards East Point we were greeted with a view of the East Point Wind Farm Development. This is one of eight wind farm developments on PEI and combined they provide roughly 25% or the energy requirements for the Island. Not too shabby for this sandbar nestled in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Jason paddling alongside East Point Wind Farm Development

As we approach the East Point Lighthouse the shoreline changed from scattered beaches and low lying shoreline to more red sandstone cliffs and we started to gain peek-a-boo views of the light house, which has provided protection to mariners since 1867.

First glimpse of East Point Lighthouse (Photo: Adam Constantine)

As we caught glimpses of East Point we converged on the place that the Northumberland Strait, which runs between Prince Edward Island and the two other Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, meets the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This can be a very dynamic location as there is a long reef that extends off East Point and there can be confused waters created by the two different tidal streams converging. If you add a bit of wind to interact with these tides it can be quite rough on the right (or wrong) day. Even without wind, making sure to time the tides is important, because if you round the point and the tide is flooding you may have trouble returning until the tidal currents slow to change direction. On this day the tidal current was on the last hour of the flood and we were on neap tides, so with no winds we were able to enjoy the winter beauty of this beautiful lighthouse all to ourselves! We have a short video recounting this trip in the additional resources below.

Wintery Landscape at East Point

During my second trip of 2019 out to this lighthouse I was joined by friend and fellow Paddle Canada instructor, Adam Constantine. He and his family were visiting the Island and we decided to get together and get on the water first thing in the morning to squeeze a paddle in before I had to work. With a tighter timeline we decided to select a different launch spot, from East Lake Creek offering a shorter distance of just under 4 km to East Point Lighthouse, making for round trip of around 8km. This is a narrow run and as you approach the Gulf of St. Lawrence the creek shallows out. We had to drag our boats out to gain access to the Gulf.


East Lake Creek (Photo: Adam Constantine)

This trip was quite a bit different. My January trip required neoprene, beanie caps and drysuits, now in summer weather, we enjoyed a beautiful, warm sunny morning for this excursion. We were greeted with some amazing sunrise vistas as we unloaded the kayaks and paddled our way towards the lighthouse. We rounded the corner and enjoyed the fresh morning sun pouring onto the most Easterly point of Prince Edward Island. As you round the corner there are a few pocket beaches and those amazing red sandstone cliffs.

Adam paddling along the red cliffs of East Point

On calm days there are landing areas on both sides of the Point, but the ability to land and access East Point Lighthouse is not possible, with very steep, unstable terrain. However, a short drive from either of the put-in locations mentioned above will result in the ability to visit the lighthouse, where you can climb to the top (for a small fee). There is also a small restaurant & gift shop and a well maintained property to enjoy the views out along the East Point Reef.  Some of the world renowned PEI Lobster that the Island is known for are fished off this reef. I have spoken to a couple of fisherman that ply these waters in the spring and have heard some excitable stories of inclement weather and rough seas while operating in this area. I have seen it angry before as well. It has a particular beauty on nice calm days, so we lucked out. I am however, continuing to explore this area for suitable rough water play and it is looking promising. Stay tuned for those adventures! Until then, thanks for letting me share one of my “backyard treasures” with you and if you are interested in adventures like this don’t hesitate to contact us, we’ll be happy to help you find the right direction!


Jarrod Gunn McQuillan is a Paddle Canada Instructor and the owner-operator of Cloud 9 Adventures based in the Maritime Provinces of Canada offering a variety of Paddle Canada Programs as well as sea kayak training adventures on the Bay of Fundy, Atlantic Coast and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Additional Information and Resources

East Point Lighthouse –

Day Trip Minute – North Lake to East Point, PEI

Drone Footage of North Lake Harbour

(Footage courtesy of PEI Government)

Adam Constantine Instagram Video of trip from East Lake Creek to East Point in July 2019 (post allows you to select from two music selections of the same video – second video is my pick!)

Above PEI – Windfarms

(Footage courtesy of PEI Government)

Quick snack break just south of East Point Lighthouse

Let’s Keep Moving – Staying active during these times…

It is the beginning of April and many parts of Canada are starting to awaken from winter and the signs of spring are beginning to show their face, funny enough, as I look out my window and we currently have light flurries here in Prince Edward Island! In a normal year, many of us with immersion gear are starting to get out on the water and most of us are certainly starting to think about getting our kayaks ready for some spring paddling. Some of us might have routines throughout winter that keep our minds and bodies engaged in kayaking or the other sports we love.


This spring we have a new factor to deal with and it certainly is unlike anything we have seen before. COVID-19 has turned many of our lives on its side and has created a lot of uncertainty in our lives. Depending on where you live it can be more challenging to venture out for a spring paddle or more challenging to engage in the cross training activities we might normally undertake in spring.

Our public health professionals are doing an incredible job keeping our population safe and healthy and this has meant some restrictions have been placed on our daily lives. This can take a toll on not only our bodies, but our minds as well. This spring, more than others, it has become more apparent how all aspects of our health are of great importance. The health of our minds and bodies are interconnected and taking care of one depends upon the health of the other.

I have been working hard to stay active and focus on wellness. Below are a few activities that have helped me. As we are all under different directives and following different recommendations, all of these suggestions will be focused on indoor activities in your home or activities you can do close to home. We all know our bodies better than anyone and know what our individual needs are, so listening to your body and allowing it to guide our direction is always a good path to follow. I am not a healthcare professional or a personal trainer (although I have been both a long time ago). I am however a kayak instructor and have been a competitive athlete since I was young as well as a varsity athlete and that is informing these suggestions. I am hoping to present these as options to encourage us all to look into how we can engage in positive self-care and nurture the mind and body during these challenging times.



 I have been actively practicing yoga for about 4 years. I have found my yoga practice has provided me many positive gains for my paddling. My flexibility and mobility has improved greatly and I have particularly noticed how I have become stronger at the farthest reaches of my mobility.


Now, I am lucky to have a partner (Heather) that is a yoga instructor and we are able to talk about how yoga can help kayakers and she has been able to guide and coach me. Her first guidance was to ask me what body parts we are using while paddling, and few quickly came to the surface. Our shoulders are in high use and are constantly rotating, our obliques and core muscles are twisting and stabilizing regularly and our hips are in seated position for long periods and regularly stabilizing our body in the kayak. She smiled and highlighted to me that yoga will have a lot to offer shoulder, core and hip health. She highlighted that yoga will certainly help stretch and lengthen our muscles, will help improve joint health and will also provide strength development in different ranges of mobility among a variety of other benefits, including mental health and an opportunity to connect with your breath (more on that later).

There are a variety of options for at-home yoga practice. At the beginning of my yoga journey Heather emphasized that it is called yoga “practice” and encouraged me to allow myself time to practice and develop my movement! As with many things, consistency is key. If you are having trouble finding an option that works for you, I encourage you to check out Nature Space Yoga. They are offering yoga sessions every Wednesday evening online using Facebook Live through a private group. If you’re one of Heather’s regular students it’s free. If you want to join the group it’s only $10.



Strength and resistance training is a great way to maintain and build lean muscle mass, increase strength, improve balance, increase stamina and improve core strength – all of which are helpful for improving paddling performance as well as preventing injuries.

I feel, during these times, the key is to simply keep moving! As Heather’s Grandmother would say “You rest, you rust!”. Of course, rest if important, but you get the idea. Depending on your past training history, if you are new to training, this likely isn’t the time to be trying new complex movements or to go for personal bests, but it is quite reasonable to start to explore some home based training options. With a simple google search you are sure to find a variety of options out there from bodyweight exercises, resistance bands and weights. There is certainly something for everyone, start simple and start slow. The goal is to simply keep moving! If you are new it would often be recommended to find a personal trainer to ensure you start out with correct form and movement. Given our times, in-person sessions likely aren’t an option, however if this is something you see value in there are virtual coaching options available online.


One option folks could check out for personal training as well as virtual programming is Kinetic Fitness in Charlottetown, PEI. They have a variety of online activities on the go. Send them a message, they will be happy to help find something that works for you!



Cardiovascular training, often referred to as “cardio” is a great way to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. As kayakers, we know that our self-propelled activity can be demanding at times, especially when the weather changes on us. This is a great opportunity to spend some time on building your “engine” so when things return to normal you will have the endurance and energy for those amazing days on the water.


There is also research out there that indicates consistent aerobic activity will not only improve physical health and help prevent chronic disease, but will also improve your ability for restful sleep and emotional health.

Maybe you have a stationary bike, treadmill or rower, which is great, then you are all set! Many of us do not, but fear not, there are lots of options out there. If you are able to, get outside, go for a walk, run or ride your bike. If you need to be indoors there are a variety of bodyweight circuits at multiple skill levels online that I am sure will get your heartbeat pumping.



Many folks have preconceived notions of what mediation is. Often times this conjures up images of uncomfortable postures, sitting just so with eyes closed and dark lighting, and the impossible feat of, “clearing your mind.” Not but a few years ago, this would have been my perspective as well. Heather is also a meditation/mindfulness practitioner and instructor, and has helped open my eyes to a much more accessible option for meditation; simply stopping to pause and pay attention to my breath.

One practice is in a long grocery line (something we avoid these days) and I now pause and listen to my breath. I relax and feel the breath go in and my breath go out. I have been amazed at how this simple practice has helped slow down my racing mind which may be worrying about the future or re-evaluating the past. I’m not sure about you, but frequently I can find myself caught up in the mindless “chatter” in my head. Sometimes referred to as the “monkey mind” which is constantly offering analysis and commentary on our experiences. This prevents us from focusing on what is right in front of us and being present for the moment. Being in the present moment allows us to enjoy our experience and connect with those around us more deeply. If you find the concept of mindfulness or meditation is daunting, there are a variety of simple resources online that will help you to learn more. There are also a variety of great apps that a quite accessible and can be useful for beginners. The one I have enjoyed is called Calm.

I have made a real connection to mindfulness in the last couple years and while I am paddling, like many of you, I am completely in the present and focused on everything right around me!


Jarrod Gunn McQuillan is a Paddle Canada Instructor and the owner-operator of Cloud 9 Adventures based in the Maritime Provinces of Canada offering a variety of Paddle Canada Programs as well as sea kayak training adventures on the Bay of Fundy, Atlantic Coast and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Day Trip : Greek River to Murray Head

I have been wanting to check out the Murray Islands on the SouthEastern end of Prince Edward island for some time.  There is a chain of five islands at the mouth of the river, with many of them connected with barrier beaches and intertidal area. I planned to start paddling the first couple hours before high tide and explore around the islands and if weather permitted out to the Northumberland Strait.

Route for the day

I started at sunrise at Cahoon’s Wharf on the Greek River.  The trip began with some early morning wildlife including some Great Blue Heron along the shore and an eagle soaring over the river.

Sunrise from Cahoon’s Wharf

As I came out towards the mouth of Greek River and around Indian Point I was greeted by a mussel boat working on their leases.  Prince Edward Island accounts for approximately 80% of Canada’s cultured blue mussel production so you are sure to see these folks working on the water in the bays and estuaries around PEI.

Mussel Boat working on lease

As I rounded the Northern end of Reynold’s Island I was greeted by a few seals drying off on a sand spit.  They didn’t allow me to get too close before they were wiggling their way into the water where they are much more agile than on land.

Seals off Reynolds Island

I explored around the islands and spotted a variety of bird life and more seals at different spots along the islands.  Reynolds, Herring and Thomas Island are all connected by small sand spits except on larger than normal tides and storm surge.

Channel between Thomas and Gordon’s Islands

The wind was gusting strongly from the SW, but the land provided enough protection that I decided to paddle out past Penny Pt and Beach Pt range lights and out into the Northumberland Strait.  As you pass through the channel you will see the Beach Point Seafood Processing Plant.

Beach Point Light

I continued along towards Murray Head and was happy to be greeted by a flock of Northern Gannet’s fishing, It is always amazing to watch them plummet towards the sea and disappear into the water in search of their prey. They are known to dive from 30 meters high and can dive more than 20 meters deep for fish.

Murray Head

I stopped for lunch at Murray Head and decided to walk the shoreline.  I gathered a few jewels for Heather as she is a fan of sea glass and also looked at the signs of how our Island changes yearly with coastal erosion. I always say, this Island truly is a massive sandbar in the lower Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Handful of jewels for Heather
Sign titles “Steep Cliff” has lived up to it’s name…

This was an interesting paddle with some wonderful scenery and lots of wildlife. There are lots of landing spots along the way, however, some caution can be required in some areas.  There is an active wharf close to the mouth of the Greek River where it feeds into Murray River and boat traffic can be common in the area.  There are also some significant currents that can be encountered at the narrow channel leading from Murray River out to the Northumberland Strait.  If you don’t time it correctly you may have trouble paddling against it.  The wind was too strong, but there are also said to be some currents not to far off shore from Murray Head.

Happy Paddling.

Fun times in Tofino!

It was totally unexpected when I was asked to join the Stohlquist Canada Pro Team.  I knew many of the current members of the team and knew they were excellent paddlers and great ambassadors.  I also knew there were a bunch of highly skilled, capable and active paddlers right here on the East Coast.  That being said, it didn’t require much thinking and the obvious answer was YES!  I was immediately excited about the opportunity and then I came to learn I would be able to take part in a team event on the West Coast in the picturesque Tofino, British Columbia.

I was able to spend four days on the Wild West Coast living in a beach house and playing in some amazing Pacific Coast swell with a crew of incredible paddlers.  I was excited to not only get on the water in February (while the little province of PEI was locked in ice), but to be able to watch and learn from some world-class surfers. It was a great opportunity to spend four days with everyone and get to know each other and learn from some of the best.

Playing in the rocks by Rosie’s Bay (Photo credit: Kevin Light)

We were lucky to have fellow team member and photographer join us for the event,   Kevin Light.  He proved to be not only talented, but quite hardy, and seemed to thrive getting thrashed around in the surf zone and staying in the water for hours on end to get the right shot.  Oh, yeah…did I mention Kevin is also an Olympic Gold Medalist.

Monday morning rolled around and we were leaving late that morning.  When I woke up I could feel the seven previous surf sessions and my muscles were aching.  However, when Santiago Berrueta asked if I was up for a surf, how could I say no.  It was a beautiful morning and the surf was up.

Santi and Jarrod
Morning Surf Session (Photo Credit: Kevin Light)

The event was an incredible experience and perfect way to get to know the rest of the team.  I am already looking forward to the next time I get to paddle with these guys.  Upon my return I was happy to see it was recently announced that one of Kevin Light’s photos from the event was selected as the cover of Ocean Paddler Magazine.  I remember that evening walking back to the beach house with fellow team member Lee Richardson.  The perfect bookend to an epic trip!