Picking Blueberries Along Lake Nipissing and In Sudbury — A Comparison

Last year, in an article called Blueberry Picking Bush Hikes in Sudbury, I jokingly lamented the hiking time we sacrifice to picking blueberries. It was actually an introductory post to my wild blueberry picking tips, but it included details of our experience picking blueberries in Sudbury which I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Picking blueberries in the hot sunshine...
Photo by Marc Desrochers

We’re picking blueberries closer to home this year because we’ve heard the blueberries aren’t that great at our usual spot in Sudbury, though we haven’t been to check it out ourselves. But picking blueberries has been so good around here this year that there’s really been no need!

So I thought that since we’re picking blueberries on the shores of Lake Nipissing this year, it would be interesting to compare the two.

Here’s an excerpt from the post that describes our time in Sudbury really well:

We hike in and out and through the bush all the time, chasing after blue gold. But we can't bring the dogs because they run around too much, and we don't see much scenery what with our heads bent down all day. In fact, I'm forever yelling out for Marc to somehow guide me back to our stuff, and mysteriously, he can, even though he's out of sight and barely within hearing.

Still, we're always happy * to head to the hills of Sudbury, because truly, we enjoy the time we spend out there, listening to the sounds of nature within the city: birds and traffic, wind and construction, planes, rain, and trains.

When we do glance up, the entire city is recognisable. And sometimes, if we're sleeping in the car to get an even earlier start, we climb up the nearest hill with a flashlight after dark and gaze at the stars and lights.

* Maybe don't ask me at 6 a.m., but yeah, pretty much always happy...

Things are more or less the same picking blueberries on Lake Nipissing. The scenery sure is different, though, since we can see the lake all day and we’re not above the tree line.

Still, Marc’s been guiding me back to our gear from somewhere far off in the distance, as usual. I’ll shout out asking where our stuff is, and he’ll shout back telling me to walk straight and take a left turn at the tree stump. How he even knows where I am is beyond me, but I don’t normally wander off as far as he does, so maybe he just remembers where he saw me last…

Picking blueberries in big bunches, but leaving behind those that aren't ready, as here...
Photo by Marc Desrochers

And we hear a lot of the same bird songs, too, though instead of trains and traffic, we hear boats and quads.

On the other hand, the mosquitoes are terrible all day long in the thicker lowland bush around Lake Nipissing, so I’ve been wearing my bug vest non-stop despite the heat.

Small bunch of big blueberries just waiting to be picked!
Photo by Marc Desrochers

One of the biggest differences is that we get to sleep at home every night, so our muscles are a little happier in the mornings. Plus we’re not limited to picking blueberries only on weekends this year. We can go blueberry picking after work, too (smiley face).

Picking blueberries in moss...

What’s really nice about that is that we can freeze or dehydrate our blueberries right away instead of stashing them safely out of sight and harm’s way for the rest of the weekend (I’m not going into detail, but trust me, our berries stay cool and dry until we go home on the Sunday night). And we can put our berries in the fridge if we don’t have time (or are too tired) to freeze or dehydrate them right away.

Picking blueberries in the bush...
Photo by Marc Desrochers

But overall, what’s really gotten our attention is how many beautiful berry patches we’re finding. We haven’t seen berries like that around here in years, probably a decade. It’s great to be picking blueberries close to home, especially since all we’ve been able to do in the past few years is pick a few containers for a treat, no more.

And we’re finding a wider variety of blueberry strands here in French River. We’ve seen far more of the deep purple, almost black, and silvery blue berries here than when picking blueberries in Sudbury. We see a lot of bright blue berries in French River too, but we find those are the predominant ones where we pick in Sudbury.

We’ve also noticed a whole lot of huge wintergreen berries growing among the blueberry plants. Every once in a while I eat one, and they’re yummy, too!

Something that doesn’t change, though, is that we’re bound to run into someone we know at some time or other while we’re picking blueberries in the bush, no matter where we are. Here in French River, it’s likely we’ll run into someone we know for obvious reasons, since we both live here and grew up here, but in Sudbury, it’s just as probable. Marc’s from a family of blueberry pickers — his brother, his aunt, his uncle, his cousins are all pickers, and they all live in Sudbury, so it can sometimes feel like a family reunion when we’re picking blueberries out there.

Picking blueberries at the base of a tree...
Photo by Marc Desrochers

Picking blueberries on Lake Nipissing definitely stacks up to picking blueberries in Sudbury, at least for this year. We’ll miss sleeping in the car, believe it or not, and walking around the city streets from dark to bedtime. But here I can run in and out of the bush to do the laundry… Lol.

Picking blueberries in the shade...
Photo by Marc Desrochers

The blueberry season’s been great so far, and we’re encouraged that it will last well into August, so we’ll be keeping busy with our blueberry picking service over the next few weeks!