A book by Jonathan Berger and
Reviewed by Brian Back
August 1, 2007
Rarely does a book come along that reinvents the canoe-routes book. Hap Wilson's Temagami Canoe Routes did it in 1978. The Canoe Atlas of the Little North has done it now through the sheer breadth and depth of the information collected, the effort that went into presentation, and the staggering ambition of mapping routes over an area larger than most of the world's countries.
Forty-five years in the making, the authors crisscrossed most of northern Ontario and northern Manitoba, an area once known as the Little North, hunting for ancient undocumented canoe routes before they are lost.
In the canoeing-to-unheard-of-places elite where entry requires one to be an over-achiever, these guys are uber-achievers.
But it wasn't done by sitting down and pouring over maps, current and historical. They have enviable personal networks among the canoeing community and First Nations and tapped 73 contributors, most of whom are First Nations members, for first-hand route info. Then they verified the bulk by paddling, poling and portaging.
The first third of the book contains maps and descriptions of the geology, brook trout – a favourite of theirs –, vegetation, history, First Nations, and the deterioration of the nastawgan — the original First Nations travel routes.
The last two thirds of the book contains the meat: 1:250,000-scale maps of the entire area with portages marked. To fit onto the 16- by 13.5-inch pages the maps were further reduced to 1:400,000 scale. (If you need to see an optometrist, go now.)
On the page facing each of the 49, full-colour, sans-contour maps are notes and Berger's pen-and-ink — and a few colour — sketches from their journeys. The only photos are satellite images. At the scale presented, the maps won't tell you in which bay the portage landing can be found, but they will tell if there is a portage.
This is more than a canoe-route planner, this is a dreamer's book for those long, chilly winter evenings when your imagination drifts north, and you are looking for comfort in a faraway place where you want to drop your canoe and paddle around the next point.
Atlas covers area outlined in yellow.
AUTHOR BACKGROUND: Sutton River exploration
Hardcover: 144 pages
Images: 1,200 maps and illustrations
Dimensions: 16 x 13.5
Publisher: Boston Mills Press/Firefly
Publisher's Price: $95 Can/US, shipping included
Amazon.com Price: $59.85 US/CDN
Order from Firefly:
INFORMATION: Order info (PDF 1.8 meg)
(PDF 1.4 meg)
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.
Copyright © 2000-2014 Brian Back. All rights reserved.
We do not endorse and are not responsible for the content of any linked document on an external site.