A Paddler's Guide to Quetico and Beyond.


192 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55046-500-6
DDC 797.122'09713117





Reviewed by Louise Karch

Louise Karch is a career consultant with Carswell Partners in London, Ontario.


Quetico Provincial Park is Ontario’s second largest wilderness park, and Kevin Callan is the perfect guide for those planning to paddle there or beyond. He meticulously describes 11 routes for novice to advanced canoeists whether travelling alone, with friends, or accompanied by a spouse, toddler, and dog. He also includes five routes beyond Quetico: two described by him and three by resident aficionados. Paddlers who sea kayak will be delighted that a route perfect for their craft is included.


Callan precisely chronicles each route so you know when to turn right, what lake to avoid because of paddling hordes, which eddy to take before rapids, and where to find the pictographs and petroglyphs and why they are significant. As some routes encompass Canada and the U.S., he also describes how to obtain appropriate permits. Each turn of a corner creates an opportunity for Callan to highlight Native life (past and present), voyageur history, loggers’ lives, and the legacy of rangers and ecologists whose visions have saved or are now saving these wild spaces.


Callan stands out in this genre because his writing is crisp, funny, and honest. One minute he is up to his waist in mud, the next he is removing a tick from his privates or pouring an extra shot of Irish Cream into his tea after an arduous paddling day. His ability to combine geology, archeology, history, ecology, and the politics of conservation makes his writing so rich. And it is his stories of wildlife encounters and descriptions of walleye for dinner or fat blueberry crumble for breakfast that make each trip, even with the mud, bugs, and ticks, inviting.


With 11 books, Callan is becoming a paddling celebrity (yes, there can be such a thing) and it is a mark of his character that he acknowledges former giants in the outdoor field, such as Canada’s Bill Mason and America’s Aldo Leopold. No doubt, one day there will be people writing about how Callan rekindled North America’s love of paddling in the near north.


Callan, Kevin., “A Paddler's Guide to Quetico and Beyond.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/27986.