Books and Wilderness Programs
Recommended Reading List
Canoeing and camping books have increased exponentially in number in the last 20 years,
making an exhaustive list impossible to compile. The literature offers a huge amount of
tips, techniques, and advice from which you must choose the information that works for
you. Below is a list of books that are never far from my table when planning a trip, and
may give you a place to start.
- Path of the Paddle; Bill Mason.
- Illustrated with hundreds of action photos, this is still
THE classic how-to-wilderness-canoe text. Path of the Paddle covers canoeing
techniques, safety, reading rapids, and paddling gear. Bill Mason’s love of the canoe and
the Canadian wilderness shine through on every page. The 1995 edition, updated by Paul
Mason, includes some of the newer strokes and canoe materials. (1980 Van Nostrand
Reinhold, and 1984, 1995 Key Porter Books).
- Song of the Paddle; Bill Mason.
- This companion text to Path of the Paddle is an extensive
discussion of the art of living in the wilderness. Mason discusses campsites, tents, food
and cooking, wilderness repairs, ecological issues and many other subjects. His anecdotes
alone, drawn from his favourite trips, are worth the price of the book. (1988 Key Porter
- Canoeing Wild Rivers; Cliff Jacobson.
- The subtitle says it all: “A Primer to North American Expedition Paddling”. This book sums up the lessons that Cliff has learned in
years of travelling on remote northern rivers, including crew choice, transportation, tents,
canoes, and other gear. The treatment of travelling and camping in adverse conditions is
excellent. (1989 ICS Books Inc).
- At Home in the Wilderness; Beth and Dave Buckley.
- An informative, well-written book on canoe camping. Drawing extensively on their trips in Saskatchewan, the Yukon, and
NWT, the Buckleys have developed camping and canoeing techniques that fuse the best of the old with the best of the new. (1994 Ashford Outdoor Media)
- A Journey to the Northern Ocean; Samuel Hearne.
- An absolutely amazing first-person account of Samuel Hearne's 4 year quest to reach the Coppermine River from present-day Churchill on Hudson's Bay. Unlike the generations of explorers who were to seek the Northwest Passage in the years to come, Hearne travelled with the native people and largely adopted their way of life to survive. (1958 MacMillan).
- The Aboriginal Rock Paintings of the Churchill River; T.E.H. Jones.
- Locations, descriptions, and interpretations of some of the rock paintings you may see while canoeing
in Northern Saskatchewan. (1981 Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History).
- The Lonely Land; Sigurd Olson.
- The tale of Olson's voyage along the Churchill River
from Ile-a-la-Crosse to Cumberland House in the 1950's. Lyrically written and enriched
by a deep understanding of history, this is still the best way to get a sense of the region
surrounding the Churchill River today. (1961 and later editions, Alfred A. Knopf)
- Shield Country; Jamie Bastedo.
- A text that synthesizes biological, geological, historical,
geographical, and cultural information into an easy-reading informative format that makes
you want to pick up a paddle and rush out to the Canadian Shield. Largely situated in the
area around Yellowknife, the information is applicable to vast areas of the Canadian boreal
forest. (1994 The Arctic Institute of North America).
- Freshwater Saga; Eric W. Morse.
- The canoeing memoirs of Eric Morse, reflecting on his
trips on the Thelon, Kazan, Taltson, and many other northern trips. Wonderfully inspiring
reading! (1987 University of Toronto Press)
- Wilderness Medicine; William Forgey, M.D.
- A slim, yet information-packed book dealing
with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of wilderness medical problems. Light
enough to pack along in a first-aid kit, yet sufficiently complete to deal with most
problems you may encounter on the trail. (1994 ICS Books Inc).
- Wilderness First Aid; Wayne Merry
- Published by St Johns Ambulance in Ontario in 1994.
- Medicine for Mountaineering, 4’th ed.; James A. Wilkerson, M.D.
- A comprehensive
treatment of outdoor medical conditions, and emphatically NOT just for mountaineering.
This might be an appropriate reference book for a larger group. (1992 The
- Far From Help; Steele
- Emergency Treatment and Management; T. Flint, M.D., and H.D. Cain, M.D. , now available as Flint's Emergency Treatment & Management
- A very
dense book, oriented towards the emergency room physician which is a valuable reference
book. (1954, 58, 64, 70, 75 and later editions, W.B. Saunders Company)
- Canoe and Kayak Magazine.
- This is the heavyweight of the paddling magazines, with lots
of trip descriptions, photos, and gear reviews. Their annual buyers guide is a good place
to start when shopping around for a new canoe.
- Paddler Magazine.
- A fun magazine, but leaning a little bit more towards the racing,
playboating, and whitewater end of things. They also publish a buyer’s guide.
- Billed as ‘Canada’s canoeing and kayaking magazine’ and published by the
CRCA, this is a great place to go and get inspired about tripping. Every issue features
several trips including beautiful photography and essential trip information. Excellent
articles on canoeing and camping technique make this magazine a pleasure to read.
- Other magazines which occasionally feature articles relevant to canoe camping:
- Outside, Backpacker, Canadian Geographic, Explore, and Equinox.
Based on the Churchill River in Missinipe, Horizons offers several clinics to prepare you for an enjoyable wilderness experience, or they can provide you with a private clinic designed especially for you.