Fish Lake canoe trip ends tragically

A Winnipeg man is dead after his canoe capsized on Fish Lake last week. Matthew MacIntyre, 27, set off in a rented canoe with a friend sometime Thursday.

A Winnipeg man is dead after his canoe capsized on Fish Lake last week.

Matthew MacIntyre, 27, set off in a rented canoe with a friend sometime Thursday.

The RCMP do not know how long they planned to be away, but the men had camping gear with them.

That gear went unused, however, because of a storm that came in suddenly in the early afternoon.

“The wind came up, the water started getting rough, and they were having trouble keeping the bow of the canoe into the wind. At some point it just became too much, and the canoe overturned,” said Sgt. Don Rogers with the RCMP.

Both of the men were wearing life jackets, but they were not able to hold onto their boat and were separated.

The survivor was able to swim to an island, but lost sight of MacIntyre.

He was eventually able to start a fire to warm up and survived through the night. In the morning he swam to the mainland, hiked to his vehicle and drove back to Whitehorse to call the RCMP.

Police received the call early Friday afternoon, and immediately sent a Twin Otter airplane as well as officers in vehicles to the scene.

The airplane quickly spotted a body washed up on the north shore of the lake, and the ground crew was able to reach the man and confirm that he was dead.

The body was recovered using an RCMP boat and delivered to the coroner.

The men were experienced and equipped for their trip to the backcountry, said Rogers.

“They had survival gear with them, they had dry bags tethered to their waists in the event that they did get separated from the boat and had to make fire. They had all of the contingencies accounted for.”

The cold, rough water was a likely factor in the death, said Rogers.

“Every precaution you take can’t always make a difference.”