Named, perhaps, for the red granite stripes running through the bedrock near its source, the Bloodvein River begins in the vast wilderness of the Canadian Shield, 600 km northwest of Thunder Bay, Ont, and 500 km northeast of Winnipeg. Over its 306-km course it tumbles over boulder-strewn rapids and passes through rock-rimmed lakes, unbroken forests of jack pine and vast wild river marshes on its journey westward to Lake Winnipeg. Ancient murals of red ochre pictographs, many over 1000 years old, of bison, human figures, hands and power symbols grace overhanging rock faces.
The entire river runs though roadless wilderness that is lightly touched, so far, by modern civilization. During the fur trade, it was a trade route. Remains of trading posts and old cabins can still be found at the junction of the Bloodvein and its major tributaries, the Sasaginnigak and the Gammon (named after surveyor Albert Gammon, who mapped this area in the 1920s) rivers. Today, adventurous paddlers enjoy the solitude and wildness the Bloodvein River offers - deep in the heart of the Canadian Shield. Two provincial parks, Woodland Caribou (Ont) and Atikaki (Man), protect most of the river. The Bloodvein has been designated as a Canadian heritage river (1987, Manitoba portion; and 1998, Ontario portion).