Fire in the Bones: Bill Mason and the Canadian Canoeing Tradition

Overview

When Bill Mason set off alone into the wilderness in his red canoe, many people went with him, if only in their imaginations. Film maker, artist, environmentalist and master canoeist, he became a symbol of the joy of the wild to an entire generation. Fire in the Bones takes you into the heart of Bill Mason country, into the landscapes that fed his imagination and nurtured his faith.
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Overview

When Bill Mason set off alone into the wilderness in his red canoe, many people went with him, if only in their imaginations. Film maker, artist, environmentalist and master canoeist, he became a symbol of the joy of the wild to an entire generation. Fire in the Bones takes you into the heart of Bill Mason country, into the landscapes that fed his imagination and nurtured his faith.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An admiring, rather placid biography of the Canadian filmmaker and wilderness proponent Bill Mason.

Mason is best known for his films: Paddle to the Sea, adapted from a children's book about a little carved Indian canoeing and adventuring from Lake Superior to the Atlantic, and Cry of the Wild, his short feature in praise of wolves. He was also the author of several bestselling books on canoeing techniques and history (Path of the Paddle and Song of the Paddle). He brought to all of his various labors both knowledge and love of the great outdoors, as well as doses of Christian sermonizing. It didn't hurt that just as Mason was refining his artistry, during the 1960s and '70s, a great wave of environmental appreciation and concern broke across North America and Europe, giving his material additional currency and power. Raffan's (Outdoor and Experiential Education/Queens Univ., Ontario) biography is a linear model, starting at the beginning—Mason's early days in Winnipeg, his schooling, with much consideration given to his short stature—on through his start in commercial art and photography, his marriage and family life, his breakthrough into directing films, his abandonment of filmmaking and retreat into painting (no critical success there, nor much self-satisfaction), to his death at 59, in 1988, of cancer. There are plenty of excerpts from his journals and letters, but a clear picture of the man never emerges. Perhaps this has to do with Mason's religious bent, with which Raffan seems uncomfortable; you can almost feel him cringe when Mason talks of nature as "God's creation" and refers to the outdoors as "this blessed wilderness." Raffan is much happier with Mason the environmental advocate, the canoeist, the guy who should have been a voyageur but was born 200 years too late.

Lots of facts, background, and stories, but Mason never gets the breath of life from Raffan.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780006386551
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/10/1997
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 5.33 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix
Introduction xiii
1 The Man and the Red Canoe 1
2 Canoes at Grand Beach 6
3 Red River Days 19
4 First Night Out 29
5 Growing Time 40
6 Weekends in Whiteshell 49
7 Heaven on Earth 65
8 Quetico 85
9 Early Days at Meech Lake 96
10 Paddle to the Sea 122
11 A Rising Star 143
12 Company of Wolves 158
13 Watershed 179
14 Mr. Canoehead 193
15 God on Water 215
16 Impossible Feature 233
17 The Empty Red Canoe 258
Afterword 273
Endnotes 275
Filmography / Bibliography 285
Index 291
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