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Book details
  • Genre:NATURE
  • SubGenre:Environmental Conservation & Protection
  • Language:English
  • Pages:198
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098324629

Quetico-Superior: A Short Histroy and Other Stories

by Mack Van Allen

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We get the amount of wilderness we are willing to fight for. This book is about such a fight. Mack Van Allen offers a concise telling of the story to save American's Boundary Waters and Canada's Quetico Provincial Park from development. If this fight had not been waged, these twin wildernesses would not today be one of the crown jewels in each country's wilderness system. Mr. Van Allen also provides the reader with a personal view of travel in this canoe country wilderness. Nature's barrier to entry − the portage, the solitude of traveling alone, and an encounter with a bear are his subjects for three essays. Finally, he leaves readers with one of the best campfire stories they will ever hear.
David Brower said, "Conservationists have to win again and again and again. The enemy only has to win once. The history of the Quetico-Superior region perfectly illustrates Brower's warning. Ultimately, we get the amount of wilderness that we are willing to fight for. Quetico-Superior: A Short History and Other Stories tells the story of a century of vigilance to protect this lake land wilderness from commercial development. Other books have addressed aspects of this struggle. My book gives the reader a concise engagement with this story. And now, with the canoe country again facing a challenge to its pristine integrity, I encourage today's canoeists to consider their roles in Brower's ongoing fight. The second part of the book is both memoir and yarn. A trip into this wilderness presents the traveler with a formidable barrier to entry: the portage. I take the reader across one of these portage trails, ascribing both meaning and humor to the experience. The remaining two essays describe the pleasure of traveling alone in this wilderness and the relief of surviving an encounter with a bear. My book concludes with a story best told around a campfire. The story is set in the canoe country and existed in the oral tradition for nearly thirty years. The Strange Tale of John Decamp was committed to paper on a 22 hour flight home from South Africa. Many of the young canoeists who traveled with me in this wilderness were excited to be able to revisit this story, particularly those who were there for its initial telling. I recently turned 75. Writing this book has allowed me to add my voice to the chorus of advocates who have championed this special place. Although my days of traveling the canoe country have passed, my memories of moments in this wilderness are vivid and deeply satisfying. As a good friend wrote to me upon reviewing my manuscript: "Remembering the haunting call of the loon and the stealthy glide of the canoe made me realize that my greatest regret about growing old is that I may not be able to experience another canoe trip where the hand of man has never set foot."
About the author
Mack Van Allen is a retired high school social studies teacher. Most of his career was spent at Centerville High School in Centerville, Ohio. Mack was co-founder of Eagle & Hawk Wilderness Adventures. The company ran wilderness canoe trips for high school students in the Quetico-Superior wilderness for twenty-five years. As a result, he is intimately familiar BWCAW and the southern part of Quetico Provincial Park. Mack has also traveled in several other wilderness areas in the National Wilderness Preservation System in the United States. Mack holds an advanced degree in Environmental Studies from Miami University and he participated in the creation of one of the first high school interdisciplinary environmental class in the country. In addition, he holds an Outdoors Educator certificate from the National Outdoors Leadership School. Quetico-Superior: a Short History and Other Stories is Mack's first published work. The project was started forty years ago, and a current mining controversy on land adjacent to this canoe country wilderness is the reason for him completing the project now. It is his hope that the book will encourage readers to add their voice to the fight to protect wild lands for both present and future generations.