Sigurd Olson, John McPhee...

I’m looking for canoeing related reading material (that are not “how to” books.) I’ve read and reread Sigurd Olson. I’m currently reading John McPhee’s canoeing writings. Thoreau’s The Maine Woods is being ordered from the library on Monday. What other canoeing books are worth reading?

Buzzacott’s 1910 edition of “The
Complete American & Canadian Sportsman’s Encyclopedia of Valuable Instruction” or, more than you ever wanted to know about hunting, fishing, canoeing, tenting, etc., but “Buzz” is going to tell you anyway. 512 pages, 1000 illustrations.

Here are three books…
Here are three books I’d recommend…“Canoeing with the Cree”, “Sources of the River”, “Traveler in the Wilderness”.

A Few More
"Freshwater Saga" by Eric Morse

“Distant Fires” by Scott Anderson

“A Season For Wilderness” Michael Furtman.


These two…
As mentioned above. Same basic goal, a little different routes starting out. Interesting to compare the experiences.

“Caneoing with the Cree” by Eric Sevareid:

“Distant Fires” by Scott Anderson

Here’s Ralph Frese’s collection
Ralph has already done work for us all re canoeing books:

Dangerous River - R M Patterson; A Death on the Barrens - George Grinnell.

Yup. When I Read One…
…I read the other afterwards. Fun comparing the differences, especially experiences on Lake Winnipeg and the cultural differences decades later. WW

mcphee again
mcphee - survival of the birch bark canoe

david s cook - indian canoe routes of maine

Great Heart
great Heart by James West Davidson

A few

– Last Updated: Aug-01-10 8:01 PM EST –

more of many... some are more about rivers and/or areas, but from the perspective of the water.

"Far Appalachia" by Noah Adams. (The NPR radio guy Noah Adams) Reflections of the role a river, the New River in W. Virginia, Virginia, and N. Carolina, plays in the author's, including paddling trips.

"Down the River" by Edward Abbey. Collections of essays. Many of these could be really decent templates for trip reports. Abby's reports are often a mixture of humor, beautiful descriptive writing, and concern for issues of western river and canyonland preservation. Most of his stuff centers around the Colorado River in Utah. He has a few more river essays in "Beyond the Wall" and "One Life at a Time, Please."

"Portage into the Past" by J. Arnold Bolz. Writings about traveling some of the traditional fur trade routes in and around the BWCA by a group of friends with copies of original descriptions from the era in hand.

"River Life" by John Bates. Written from a first-class naturalist's perspective and based roughly on the Manitowish River in N. Wisconsin. He uses that river, section by section, as an example of the many ways we can look at rivers - geology, wildlife in and around the water (insects aquatic plants, birds, botony... all of it.), history, culture... and poetry scattered in for good measure. A worthy reference book that is artful.

I don't know if you've seen it yet, but John McPhee also has about a third of "Encounters with the Archdruid" dedicated to a raft trip down the Colorado River in the company of both David "archdruid" Brower (ex-pres. of the Sierra Club and vocal wilderness preservationist) and Floyd Dominy, (Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation which governs the construction and operation of such dams as Hoover Dam, Flaming Gorge Dam, Glen Canyon Dam, etc). Its an interesting read that goes to the heart of the debate about the nature of the value of wild lands - and rivers.

Deliverance, James Dickey

Alan Kesselheim to me is better than the ones you listed.

Read “Water and Sky” true story about he and wifes 400+ day paddle down the Kazan…winter-over, build cabin, paddle ice out etc.

Also the second trip called “Going Inside”

great books…hes got a few more. google him

Robert Perkins
For something completely different… Check out Robert Perkins, especially these two: Into The Great Solitude and Against Straight Lines.


Wild Waters - James Raffan & Bill Mason

Rivers Running Free - Nieme & Wieser

River - Colin Fletcher (rafting the Colorado)

Armchair Paddler - Cecil Kuhne (canoe, kayak, raft)

Youghiogheny - Tim Palmer

Fire in the Bones - James Raffan

second Kesselheim
Threading the Currents by Alan S. Kesselheim, and Mississippi Solo by Eddy L. Harris

One of my absolute favorites:
“A Canoeist’s Sketchbook” by Robert Kimber. It is somewhat of a “how to”, but more of a “why do we canoe?”, with a lot of anecdotes dealing with all sorts of things related to canoeing. An excellent read, espacially if your interest lies in the canoe-camping realm.


yeah bob perkins is ok
his videos are better

check out his website for books and videos

CEric Severeid

– Last Updated: Aug-04-10 3:32 PM EST –

"Canoeing with the Cree" by Eric Severeid

Calvin Rutstrum
His writings are right up there with Sig Olsens…

North American Canoe Country, Once Upon a Wilderness, The Way of the Wilderness, How to build a Wilderness Cabin, Paradise below Zero, Chips from a Wilderness Log (my fav)…plus more…All really good reading.

OK, not for the hi tec multiy colored gear crowd, they will find it boring, dated, not PC, but you can buy em used on eBay for a couple of bucks and enjoy those cold winter nights reading about old style canoeing and camping plus some dated opinons that will make you smile.

The illustrations by Les Kouba are worth the price.

Another good book about old style canoeing and Ontario is “Cache Lake Country” by John J Rowlands, again, buy it used on eBay, good old style canoe/outdoor living with great illustrations on nearly every page. Not PC or fashionable, more wool and campfires, fur and snowshoes than high tech, but a fun read if you like the old stuff.

Neither one of these guys would have used a bent shaft. Just Kiddin’