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Tales from the Paddle

Tales from the Paddle
by John W. Lentz

Tales from the Paddle: A Canoeist's Memoirs of Wilderness Trips in Canada and Russia examines author John Lentz's life-long dedication to exploring isolated Arctic wilderness rivers. This book will take you to places that have not seen the hand of man since the 19th century … places so remote that accurate maps don't exist. The book explores the human need to live by our wits and our skills; the need to go where there are no charts, no 911, no easy way out; the compulsion to test ourselves against the unknown.

Tales from the Paddle records a man's journey from summers spent as a teenager at a canoe camp in northern Ontario to his recognition as one of the contemporary pioneers of wilderness canoeing. His expeditions include perhaps the first full descents of the Kazan, Caniapiscau, and Dubawnt rivers, as well as the first complete recorded descent of the Back River since the 1850s. A highlight is the discovery during a Hood River trip in 1983 of artifacts from the Franklin expedition. Add to this his adventures on Siberian rivers right after perestroika and his knowledge of wilderness exploration, gleaned through collecting a 2,500-volume library on the subject.

Primarily, though, the book is about people ­- about the life-long friendships that develop over seemingly interminable portages and fierce stretches of whitewater where teamwork is more than just a catchphrase. But the tales also describe encounters with bears, bugs, muskox, caribou, and Russian bureaucrats.

To put things in perspective, more than 700 people a year climb Mt. Everest successfully, but only a few have made full descents of these wilderness rivers. Is it any wonder that John Lentz is a member of The Explorers Club?

Reviewers say:

"Anybody who has paddled North of '60 has, at one time or another, looked for Franklin's remains and dreamt about paddling in Siberia. John Lentz found Franklin remains on the Hood River and has tripped twice in Russia! How cool is that? He's clever, observant, persistent as hell, and has paddled with some very interesting companions. To boot, in half a century of wilderness canoeing, Lentz has seen more of Canada than most Canadians! This is a rare and engaging read."
– James Raffan, author and Executive Director of The Canadian Canoe Museum

"This is a wonderful string of stories on diverse rivers throughout Canada and Russia. Canoeists who enjoy a variety of river experiences will find John's book a fascinating read."
– Peter Milliken, wilderness canoeist and Speaker, House of Commons, Ottawa, 2001–2011

"Why canoe in the northern wilderness? The answers may differ, but there is a John Lentz kindred spirit in all of us. In part I think it was well expressed by J. B. Tyrrell, who wrote, '… and though the northern life is very lonely, there is none but the power of Nature to struggle against, and there is no one present to upbraid if you fail, ….' In 1893 and in 1894, Joseph Tyrrell made remarkable canoe traverses across the North. Please read John’s stories of his many similar traverses."
– George Luste, retired physics professor and founder of the annual Wilderness and Canoeing Symposium in Toronto


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