The Little French River
The Little French River
Ziibiins - Ojibwe Name
This beautiful little river as described by French Explorers starts near Wajasjk Cottages in Dokis First Nation and ends at the Five Finger Rapids on the Lower French River. The Little French River is over 25 miles in length and over 100 yards wide in most areas.
The Little French River is composed of a combination of many abiotic and biotic features such as:
- Deep pockets of water
- Large littoral areas
- Diversity of wildlife use
- Excellent spawning areas for all fish
- Meandering stream patterns
- Same fish types and populations as the main French Rivers.
In terms of Cultural and Heritage use, some evidence of past Native use was evident near the free flow and existing dam site. The areas adjacent to the flows were examined a little by an archaeologist in 1994; his conclusion was these areas were used for traditional camping and fishing routines prior to the Twentieth Century. Before the placement of the Little French Dam, the rest of the "Little French" could be accessed by boat.
Deep Pockets of Water
Just because it is called the "Little French", it still has to be considered a large river system in terms of the amount of flow it generates and depths it can reach. Unfortunately the river portion from below the dam to the five-finger rapids has never been formally sounded for depth charting. In light of this fact our personal experiences have noted a mean depth of 40' above the dam and a mean depth of 30' below the dam. Most people in the area agree that more research is needed to start drawing the Little French scenario.
Large Littoral Areas
The Little French River system is uniquely forming littoral areas in back bays as the river makes sharp hairpin curves. Most of the rivers shore drops in a sloping angle that is difficult for normal "lake type littoral areas', so that is why these bays should not be over developed in any way as to make their wildlife use redundant.
Diversity of Wildlife Use
"The diverse habitat and wildlife use of the Little French river is an Ecologist Heaven."
Every animal in the vicinity of this river system must use the areas for there own particular reasons. Its diversity is as widespread as to supply fresh drinking water for impregnated deer and moose while other water bodies are still frozen.
The Little French River is a lifeline for all adjacent land including islands, the inlands within this well-balanced eco-system is typical of the Great Lakes; St. Lawrence Forest however there is no land development below the dam and a few cottages on its shoreline.
Proficient Spawning Areas
The Natives from Dokis have always speared the spawning walleye, sturgeon and musky of the Little French River. Areas along the river such as "the poplar rapids" produced many stories about large fish in the Dokis area. Many residents from Dokis suggest that the largest walleyes and sturgeons spawn in the Little French River waters including the "five finger rapids".
The Little French River system contains many small cobble stone type rapids and the majority of these are towards the inlets of the Little French Dam. Most rapids in this watershed are wide and shallow and the slope is long with many exposed rocks, which is also very typical of an extraordinary spawning bed.
Meandering Stream Patterns
The geological features of the Little French River are typical of a granite-based watershed, however what is somewhat notable is the association with a meandering stream pattern. Although the bedrock is mainly composed of igneous and metamorphic materials, the scouring of the meandering effect has created some sedimentary conditions and layering of the granite sub-deposits.
It is our understanding that creel surveys in the "Little French" is limited only to the fisherman and traditional knowledge of the Dokis Band of Ojibwes. As previously mentioned in this report the Little French River is an important fishery resource with diverse factors that contribute to the enjoyment of its use. From the perspective of the existing fish populations this diversity in habitat is synonymous with the many types of fish that are said to reside here, and they are as follows:
- Lampreys (Silver)
- Sturgeon (Lake)
- Gars (Longnose)
- Salmon (Chinook)
- Whitefishes (Cisco), (Lake Whitefish)
- Smelts (Rainbow)
- Mudminnow (Central)
- Pike (Northern), (Muskellunge)
- Minnows (Variety of Dace), (Lake Chub), (Variety of Shiners)
- Suckers (Common White), (River Redhorse)
- Catfish (Brown Bullhead), (Channel Catfish)
- Eels (American)
- Cods (Burbot)
- Bass (White Bass), (Rock Bass), (Pumpkinseed), (Smallmouth), (Largemouth)
- Perch (Yellow), (Walleye), (Logperch)
- Drum (Freshwater)