Bill Mason Red Canoe

“There is nothing that is so aesthetically pleasing and yet so functional and versatile as the canoe.”

Bill Mason's Red Canoe“I have always believed that the Canadian Wooden canoe is one of the greatest achievements of mankind. There is nothing that is so aesthetically pleasing and yet so functional and versatile as the canoe. It is as much a part of our land as the rocks and trees and lakes and rivers. It takes as much skill and artistry to paddle a canoe well as it does to paint a picture of it. In this painting I wanted to capture the look and feel of a well-worn travelling companion. There’s hardly a rib or plank that isn’t cracked but after a quarter of a century it’s still wearing its original canvas.”
In reference to one of his paintings his favorite red Chestnut canoe.

Bill Mason


On Portaging:

Bill Mason Poraging“Anyone who says they like portaging is either a liar or crazy.”

“It’s the portage that makes travelling by canoe unique.”

“… portaging is like hitting yourself on the head with a hammer: it feels so good when you stop.”

Bill Mason


Path Of The Paddle

“A journey by canoe along ancient waterways is a good way to rediscover our lost relationship with the natural world and the Creator who put it together so long ago.”

Bill Mason“The first thing you must learn about canoeing is that the canoe is not a lifeless, inanimate object; it feels very much alive, alive with the life of the river. Life is transmitted to the canoe by the currents of the air and the water upon which it rides. The behavior and temperament of the canoe is dependent upon the elements: from the slightest breeze to a raging storm, from the smallest ripple to a towering wave, or from a meandering stream to a thundering rapid.”

“… we need to be more aware of where we are headed and from whence we came. An appreciation of the canoe and acquisition of the necessary skills to utilize it as a way to journey back to what’s left of the natural world is a great way to begin this voyage of discovery.”

Bill Mason Old Woman Bay Mist“…the age of the canoe is not gone; it’s just different. the canoe is no longer a vehicle of trade and commerce. Instead, it has become a means of venturing back into what is left of the natural world. It’s true there isn’t much left to be discovered, but there is much to be rediscovered about the land, about the creatures who live there, and about ourselves. Where do we come from and where are we going? There is no better place and no better way to follow this quest into the realm of spirit than along the lakes and rivers of the North American wilderness in a canoe.”

birch bark canoe“It was the canoe that made it possible for the Indian to move around before and for several hundred years after the arrival of the white man. As the white man took over their land, the native people would regret the generosity which they shared their amazing mode of travel. The more I study the birchbark canoe and what it can do, the greater is my admiration of these people who were here long before we arrived.

The birch bark canoe is made entirely from materials found in the forest: birch bark, cedar, spruce roots, ash, and pine gum. When it is damaged, it can be repaired easily from the materials at hand. When it has served its purpose, it returns to the land, part of a never-ending cycle.”

Bill Mason Canoeing“It is certainly not my intention to convince everybody they should grab a canoe and take to the wilderness. We are all different, and our interests vary. That is how it should be. Some people are content to enjoy the land from the edge of the road or campground. Others are only happy when isolated from the synthetic world by many portages and miles of trackless wilderness. I used to think it was a major tragedy if anyone went through life never having owned a canoe. Now I believe it is just a minor tragedy.”

Bill Mason Camping“There is one thing I should warn you about before you decide to get serious about canoeing. You must consider the possibility of becoming totally and incurably hooked on it. You must also face the fact that every fall about freeze-up time you go through a withdrawal period as you watch the lakes and rivers icing overone by one. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing can help a little to ease the pain, but they won’t guarantee a complete cure.”

“When you look at the face of Canada and study the geography carefully, you come away with the feeling that God could have designed the canoe first and then set about to conceive a land in which it could flourish.”

Bill Mason


Song Of the Paddle

song of the paddleWilderness: a beautiful word to describe a beautiful land. Wilderness though is a white man’s concept. To the Native people, the land was not wild. It was home. It provided shelter, clothed and fed them. And echoing through their souls was a song of the land. The singing isn’t as loud as it used to be. But you can still hear it in the wind….in the silence of the misty morning….in the drip of the water from the tip of a paddle. The song is still here if you know how to listen.

Bill Mason

Bill Mason

Bill Mason

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