Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Survival of the Bark Canoe

Published in 1982, this a story of a New Hampshire man, Henri Vaillancourt, who has kept alive the Indian tradition of making canoes from birch bark. Despite being written over a quarter century ago, Vaillancourt is alive and kicking and still making bark canoes.

The author, John McPhee, spends the beginning of the book talking about the canoes, Vaillancourt, and the history of the bark canoe. The latter half of the book is about a canoe trip the pair take with some friends of Vaillancourt's using bark canoes.

I think anyone who enjoys the outdoors will appreciate and enjoy this book. Vaillancourt, like many people who have a narrowly focused interest, comes across at times as shallow and unlikeable. McPhee does allow Vaillancourt's passion to shine through and although McPhee does seem like a bit of a fanboy at times, bashing modern canoes (despite Vaillancourt not behaving in a similar manner), it's still a well-written book that made me long to grab a paddle and hit the water.

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