The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SUMMER 2002











In this issue

Front Page


Spring Run

Summer Packet


From the Editor







Canoeing a Continent

By Max Finkelstein

Natural Heritage Press

Toronto, 312pp. $25.95

ISBN: 1-896219-00-4

It is perhaps highly fitting that Mac’s trips should be followed by Max. The Mac in question is Alexander Mackenzie, voyageur leader based in Montreal and the Max in answer is Max Finkelstein, peripatetic paddler based in Ottawa.

Over the last three summers of the 1990s, Max Finkelstein traversed Mackenzie’s route in various directions with various partners, one of whom he later married!

Che-Mun readers may well recall one section of the journey that Max described for us in Outfit 95. Max is truly the happy wanderer. He is tough, dedicated and determined and approaches each new adventure, town or person with the same happy inquisitiveness.

He writes in a snappy narrative style with lot’s of conversational bits that keep the reading interesting. His journey is only partly what many would consider a wilderness trek. That’s because Max loves to meet people and break bread with them and hear some of their stories. He tells us of the best place for fish and chips in Killarney and how to make an Eatmore sandwich on the Athabasca River.

He writes in short sentences with bubbling enthusiasm carrying us along on its current. Like these thoughts on big canoe trips. “Big journeys are exclamation points in our mundane little lives. Completing them, or just surviving them, gives us memories that we use to define, or redefine, ourselves.”

That’s what makes this book work. It is not a clinical examination of the route taken by Mackenzie. It is how that route is alive today and the people along it who keep it that way. Max’s day job, by the way, is communications consultant to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, so mixing work with pleasure certainly works in his case.

Max blends the past with the present in a delightful way. And he does it all while heeding his Dad’s advice to find happiness where it is and not bothering to look where it ain’t!

                                      — Michael Peake

Canoeing the Churchill

By Greg Marchildon & Sid Robinson

Canadian Plains Research Centre

Regina, 477pp. $29.95

ISBN: 0-88977-148-0

One thing kept going over and over in my mind as I read this incredibly thorough and well illustrated guide to Saskatchewan’s Churchill River; how much would this hefty tome weigh when wet?

Because there is little doubt you could you not take these 476 richly-filled pages in the canoe you while paddling this great  river – and we know what happen to things in a canoe.

Canoeing the Churchill is the third volume in the Discover Saskatchewan series of books about Canada’s prairie province published in connection with the University of Regina. Authors Marchildon and Robinson are to be heartily congratulated on what is clearly a labour of love for this magnificent


river. In fact the project was appropriately born under the glow of a kerosene lamp, of these two cottaging neighbours, along the Churchill itself, 16 years ago.

Each rapid is featured and discussed. Every historical site is noted and illuminated. The native presence, the voyageur past and the paddler’s paradise

are all part of what makes up a canoe trip down the Churchill River.

There are hundreds of illustrations of the river, its people and pictographs including numerous maps and diagrams of rapids. All in all, it is an incredible resource. A superb companion to a great river.

— Michael Peake

The Canoe:

A Living Tradition

Edited by John Jennings

Firefly Books

Toronto 2002, 288pp. $59.95

ISBN: 1-55209-509-6

The Canadian Canoe Museum has finally blossomed into the beautiful creation that was in the mind of its founders. It has taken many years and millions of dollars but the Peterborough museum can now take its place with any signature stop around the world.

The Canoe: A Living Tradition grew out of that transformation and this handsome volume, featuring 400-plus illustrations, is a superb companion to our world-class museum.

Edited by John Jennings, a director of the CCM and a professor at Trent University, The Canoe takes a lavishly illustrated look at a variety of canoes from around the world that have come to reside in the collection. Appropriately there is a chapter written by our friend Gwyneth Hoyle on the man who got it all started – Kirk Wipper, who recently received the Order of Canada.

Wipper began the collection decades ago, undertaking it as a personal project. It took a great many years and much discussion to transfer the collection from Wipper to the much larger and well funded modern museum, which in turn took many years to get to where they are now. All that matters little – they made it!

The book is divided into three sections; The Native Craft, which includes birchbark boats, dugouts, kayaks and umiaks; The Recreational Canoe which highlights the mass production of wooden boats and the rise of canoe racing; and Preserving the History of the Canoe with its chapters on Wipper and Edwin Tappan Adney, a man who died in 1950 after producing 125 exceptional models of traditional canoes and a huge array of canoe building history and plans.

The ubiquitous James Raffan is also present, adding a couple of pages at the end of the book with a thoughtful essay on the book’s title and meaning.

The Canoe features superb reproduction – and it was printed in Manitoba! – that certainly adds to the overall presentation along with a great selection of archival photos. A wonderful book to leaf through or read some of the wonderfully detailed information on a tremendous variety of hand-hewn watercraft.

                                           — Michael Peake

 Summer 2002         Outfit 109 

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Maps and information herein are not intended for navigational use, and are not represented to be correct in every respect.

All pages intended for reference use only, and all pages are subject to change with new information and without notice.

The author/publisher accepts no responsibility or liability for use of the information on these pages.

Wilderness travel and canoeing possess inherent risk.

It is the sole responsibility of the paddler and outdoor traveler to determine whether he/she is qualified for these activities.

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Ottertooth Copyright © 2000-2009 Brian Back. All rights reserved.

Che-Mun Copyright © 2002-2009 Michael Peake. All rights reserved.