Idleness,Water,and a Canoe: Reflections on Paddling for Pleasure

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In the spring of 1940, subscribers to Queen's Quarterly read that the 'ingredients of a holiday in Canada are idleness, water, and a canoe.' This statement bears witness to the enduring importance of the canoe generations after the decline of the North American fur trade. Jamie Benidickson explains that the canoe's merit lies not strictly in its function as a transportation vehicle, but in its promise of unrestricted mobility, leisure, and independence. Idleness, Water, and a Canoe is a study of the place of the ...

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Overview

In the spring of 1940, subscribers to Queen's Quarterly read that the 'ingredients of a holiday in Canada are idleness, water, and a canoe.' This statement bears witness to the enduring importance of the canoe generations after the decline of the North American fur trade. Jamie Benidickson explains that the canoe's merit lies not strictly in its function as a transportation vehicle, but in its promise of unrestricted mobility, leisure, and independence. Idleness, Water, and a Canoe is a study of the place of the canoe in Canadian life, with comparative references to the United States and Britain. A blend of history, economic analysis, technical information, and social commentary, it examines the rise of the canoe's popularity and its influence on leisure activity, economics and tourism, and literature and advertising in this country.

Drawing on books, newspaper articles, original records, unusual ephemera, and interviews with paddlers, the author describes the evolution and cultural significance of two centuries of recreational paddling. He explores why canoeists have constantly sought new summer waterways, how they have practised their craft, and how much influence paddling for pleasure has had on them and on the societies in which they live. The many facets of recreational paddling are illustrated and described in a series of reflections on subjects ranging from the paddler's quest for physical and emotional renewal to what the future holds for voyageurs and their sport. Benidickson also discusses the evolution of canoe design and manufacturing, the formation of canoe clubs and organizations, the economics of recreational travel, and the paddler's role in environmental protection.

Not only will this book appeal to those interested in history, sociology, aesthetics, geography, and sports and leisure studies, but its broad scope and accessible style will recommend it to the many outdoor enthusiasts who plan yearly canoeing trips.

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Editorial Reviews

Dunnery Best

'Read this erudite book and you will never again be bested in of those endless canoe-trip conversations about canoes ... In the final analysis, canoeing is a very personal, emotive matter. Most of the current crop of trippers are harried, urbanized survivors. The canoe provides unique access to another, more real world. Benidickson's gentle, generous book manages well to capture this elusive process.'

Jon Chaplin

'Benidickson unloads some of the weight of so much information and data with dry, straight-faced humor, and organizes an immense archive into enjoyable prose.'

Linda Turk

'Even a determined non-canoer can enjoy this book. It's interesting, and surprising, and beautifully written, so even if your idea of roughing it is having to get up to change the TV channel all by yourself without a remote control, you can still enjoy this book thoroughly ... This is a love story, and, thankfully, Benidickson is articulate in telling his passion for the canoe. His love for this wonderfully versatile craft shines on every page, and is guaranteed to enthrall any reader.'

Harry Rintoul

'Whether you are a seasoned veteran, avid canoeist or beginner, Idleness, Water, and a Canoe is a rich resource which offers more than one explanation as to why, when idleness is at a premium, so many of us need to hear the song of the paddle.'

Marian Botsford Fraser

'You can doze with this book on the dock, pick it up after an evening paddle, fall asleep with it at night.'

Toni Harting

'All in all a splendid piece of work that should fascinate many a paddler, including the armchair variety.'

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802079107
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 5/17/1997
  • Pages: 299
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Jamie Benedickson is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa and co-author of The Temagami Experience.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Idleness, Water, and a Canoe: Popular Images and Personal Experiences 3
2 A Useful Vessel: A Trout, a Moose, and a Canoe 17
3 The Healing Pines 32
4 God's Country 48
5 The Canadian Summer Boy 65
6 Women and Wilderness 78
7 Rock Dodging and Other Perils 94
8 Getting Organized: Clubs and Competitions 110
9 What Kinda Boat Ya Got? 129
10 The Craft and the Craftsman in Transition 142
11 Native Impressions 157
12 Destinations 172
13 Comfort: Bringing It with You and Finding It There 188
14 The Price of Adventure 206
15 Consuming Wilderness 224
16 The Future of the Voyageur 239
Conclusion 254
Notes 257
Index 293
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