Top 9 Paddling Books To Read This Winter

It’s that time of year when you get home from work and all you want to do is get lost in a good book. For us canoeists and outdoor enthusiasts, these books are usually stories and memoirs of past wilderness adventures and resources for future backcountry ambitions. Here is a list (in no particular order) of 9 books to read this winter.

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1. Great Heart: The History of a Labrador Adventure – James West Davidson
A personal favourite and an ode to the “Lure of the Labrador Wild”. This book recounts the events of three expeditions into interior Labrador in the early 1900s: Leonidas Hubbard's fatal 1903 attempt with companions Dillon Wallace and George Elson (as documented in Lure of the Labrador Wild) followed by Mina Hubbard’s and Dillon Wallace’s 1905 head to head attempts to complete Hubbard’s unfinished business.

The book is based on journal entries from the expeditions and gives great insight into the unimaginable struggles and suffering these parties had to endure as they trekked into the unknown territory of the Labrador backcountry.

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2. Canoeing with the Cree – Eric Sevareid
Canoeing with the Cree is a heart-felt true story of two recent high-school grads epic canoe trip from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay in 1930. The author (one of the boys) retells their incredible 2250-mile route which showcases their ability to persevere and do the impossible when odds were greatly stacked against them. This is an great read that showcases how their struggles and accomplishments transformed these boys into men. 

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3. Alone Against the North - Adam Shoalts
Adam's thirst to explore the thickest, wildest and loneliest corners of Canada fascinates me and his multiple journeys to the Again River is enough to spark the explorer’s soul in all of us. This is the perfect read to get you stoked to plan some adventurous routes for the coming summer.

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4. History of Canada in 10 Maps – Adam Shoalts
As the title suggest, the book is an account of ten maps that significantly impacted our geographic knowledge of Canada. Hats off to Adam for the freakish amount of information he puts into ten stories of epic Canadian history. The hardships of these explorers were unimaginable, let alone their ability to map, with precision, inconceivable amounts of desolate, unknown wilderness.  

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5. Canoe Country - Roy MacGregor
Canada’s love-affair with the canoe is proclaimed in this book in a poetic way. I’ve never pulled as many canoe quotes as I have from Canoe Country. The book also provides valuable information on how the canoe has shaped our country by pulling from historic events and figures which is laid out in an easy to read way. 

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6. A Life in the Bush – Roy MacGregor
The life of a man who has spent his entire life in Algonquin Park. Working in the mill until the ripe old age of 75, Duncan McGregor's life is documented through the eyes of his son (Roy MacGregor). His love for the bush and for trout fishing has shaped his simple life. But his thirst for knowledge and continuous urge to read made him a fascinating man.

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7. Ontario’s Lost Canoe Routes – Kevin Callan
Our bible of canoe routes. You can find my copy with dead mosquitos, dog eared corners and the smell of campfire on every page. I must have read this book fully-through several times. Kevin’s ability to describe canoe routes in technical detail but also provide his own experiences and personality is what has captivated readers for 17 of his published books! I am slowly trying to knock each one of these routes off my list.

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8. The Lure of Faraway Places – Herb Pohl
Pull out the maps and shit yourself while you retrace the epic routes that one (old-ish) man accomplished. This book was recently shared with me by a friend and was promised to inspire the inner voyager. 

Herb Pohl is a modern-day explorer and has tackled and created some of Canada's most difficult undocumented backcountry routes of our time. Not only is this a feat but most of the time he does these trips solo. The book recounts journal entries from his most epic adventures with great detail and information. This was another book I couldn’t put down and was continuously blown away by his routes and more so, the sticky situations he would consistently get out of.

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9. Lines on a Map – Frank Wolf

I have read many of Frank Wolf’s articles throughout the years and this man is a true beast. Every year he seems to scheme up a new trip that ranges from 3-6 weeks in Canada’s north. If you don’t know who Frank is, check out his trip map of Canada, truly amazing. Lines on a Map provides two decades of Frank’s adventures captured in this entertaining and inspiring collection of memoirs.