Maybe you are thinking of Paddle to the Sea (1966).
Paddle to the Sea, the short film named after the carved wooden toy boat it tracks through various waterways from Canada to the Atlantic Ocean, is Canadian director William Mason's sweet homage to the 1940s children's book. Like The Red Balloon, Paddle To The Sea folklorically portrays a toy's journey, with a bit of added personification since the whittled boat contains a stoic Native American man carved into its seat. The film begins in a Nipogon log cabin, where a boy laments releasing his newly crafted artwork but soon realizes that setting his toy free is the only way to enliven it. After pouring molten lead into the boat's base to encourage its floating upright, and writing "I am Paddle to the Sea: Please Put Me Back in the Water" on the boat's underside, he drops the boat into a snowy stream and hopes someday it will reach the ocean. Beyond the film's wise message of non-attachment, wonderment is sustained throughout while trying to guess how Mason managed to track this swift-sailing canoe down river rapids, through industrially polluted waterways, and even over Niagara Falls. Fortuitous shots of animals investigating the boat as if to eat it seem almost pre-planned. Cameras strapped onto rafts, lowered down cliffs by rope, and more enabled the director to follow the toy in close-up, as if he were filming a wildlife documentary. Narrated from an omniscient point of view by a man with a soothing storyteller's voice, Paddle to the Sea is a lullaby to tranquility that entertains with simple charm and clever wit.