Favorite Books

Now with cooler weather and shorter days upon us the canoeing season is fast coming to an end. However it is not over yet, at least not for me. I'll be on the water until it is frozen solid. For those of you who do not enjoy cold weather paddling but still want to stay in touch with canoeing I thought I would review a few of my favorite books on the subject.

The first book I ever read on canoeing was Pole, Portage, and Paddle, written by Bill Reviere. It was given to me by my sister as a present. The book covers everything from history to paddling strokes and anything in between. As with most canoeists the author is quite opinionated and some of the items discussed are a bit outdated, but all in all a good book that you will enjoy reading. Another "how to book" that I and many others feel is one of the best ever written was co authored by a friend of mine, Dr. John Rugge. Entitled The Complete Wilderness Paddler written by John Rugge and James West Davidson, covers all of the how to essentials. Geared for those with a desire to explore true wilderness with a flare for heavy white water. John and Jim have a very unique style and took a very different approach in presenting their material to the reader. The book combines the story of their trip on Labrador's Moise River along with lessons on paddling, portaging, equipment, etc. You name it, they have got it covered. I would recommend this one for experts and beginners alike. Its truly a great book.

If you prefer to read a good adventure I would suggest the story of Dillion Wallace and Leonidas Hubbard. These two men traveled from NYC back in 1903 to explore the wilds of Labrador. They and their Indian guide (George Elson) headed NW from the Hudson Bay Trading Company's Northwest River outpost on Grand Lake into completely uncharted territory in search of the Neskapi Indians and the famed caribou migration. The book Great Heart also written by John Rugge and James West Davidson recreates this epic adventure for you. John and Jim actually retraced the footsteps of the initial explorers. The expedition consisted of two separate trips and after many years of research the authors have combined fact and a bit of fiction to connect the two trips, bringing you an exceptional story. I promise, once you pick this book up, you will have a hard time setting it down. There are 3 other books available on this subject which if read along with Great Heart, give you a feel for what really happened. Dillion Wallace wrote accounts of both his trips into the Labrador region. Lure of the Labrador Wild and The Long Labrador Trail. Mina Hubbard (wife of Leonidas) wrote A Womans Way Through Labrador, her account of the second expedition. All three books contain the actual diaries of those involved.

If you prefer a bit of history I would suggest Bark and Skin Boats of North America by Adney and Chappelle. This book chronicles in great detail the life long study of Edwin Tappen Adney into the history of the birch bark canoe. It is packed almost overwhelmingly with information on the different styles and methods of construction, materials, designs, etc. Unfortunately he died without ever publishing anything. His notes were eventually donated to the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, VA. They in turn hired Howard Chappelle to organize Mr. Adney's writings into a book which he did. He also added a section on skin boats which he had studied extensively. This book came back into print recently and is a must for those of you interested in the history of canoeing.

Heading the other way into the modern era there is Canoe Racing written by former national champion and fellow New Hampshirite, Peter Head and Dick Mansfield. This is an excellent book for the beginning or polished racer. It gives you everything you will need to become a top racer except the hundreds of hours and miles of required training. Unfortunately you have to supply that.

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