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Paddle in the Wake of Grey Owl

Archie Belaney, a lad from Hastings, England was so obsessed with native peoples in Canada that in 1905 at the age of 17, he set out for Canada, and ended up on Bear Island in Lake Temagami living with an Ojibwe band. The natives called him Grey Owl or “He who flies by night.” For the next 33 years, no one knew that the man wearing braids and buckskin and claimed he was half Indian—the fellow who wrote books about respecting the land and who lectured the Queen of England about the plight of the beaver— was not a true “Canadian Red Indian.” The movie version of this story, directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Pierce Brosnan, premiered in 1999. Kids intrigued by Grey Owl’s story may want to travel in his footsteps:

TEMAGAMI, ONTARIO: Temagami is prime canoeing country and it was here that Grey Owl learned how to paddle. At the tiny Finlayson Point Provincial Park, rent canoes and paddles and set off from the small beach to paddle the sparkling waters of Lake Temagami. The small cabin museum displays the books that Grey Owl wrote and the kinds of animals that he would have trapped such as otters, owls and a lynx. Families can also rent houseboats in Temagami that sleep up to 10 people. Prices start at $860 CAD for a week and run to $2000 CAD, including taxes and inurance. For park reservations, call 1-888-668-7275 or visit www.OntarioParks.com. Houseboat companies that rent to families include Leisure Island, 705/569-3261 (sleeps 5-6); Ket-chun-eny Lodge, 705/237-8952 (sleeps 6); Lakeland Three Buoys Houseboat, 705/569-3455 (sleeps 10); Camp Canusa, 705/237-8965.

RIDING MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, MANITOBA: About an hour northwest from Winnipeg, the flat prairie landscape begins to rise in rolling hills and the wilderness becomes a fragrant mix of aspen and white spruce trees and prairie grasslands. No wonder that this mix of ecosystems supports bear and coyote dens, foxes, some of the largest elk, moose and black bears on the continent, whitetail deer and timber wolves, porcupine and beaver families as well as a thriving bison herd near Audy Lake. In 1931, Grey Owl briefly served as caretaker for the park and seized the opportunity to establish a beaver colony. At the Visitor Centre in Wasagaming, kids can sign up for the “Keepers of the Wild” program to sample aboriginal foods, hike to the top of the mountain or visit a den of black bears with park interpreters. Open year round. Call 1-800-707-8480.

PRINCE ALBERT NATIONAL PARK, SASKATCHEWAN: On the shore of tiny Lake Ajawaan in this million-acre tract of wilderness about 230 km north of Saskatoon, park authorities built Grey Owl a secluded and unique wilderness cabin. One wall was open to the lake so that beavers Rawhide and Jelly Roll, could swim right up into the cabin. Teenagers who relish canoe trips will enjoy the adventure of paddling to the isolated cabin (it’s a good day’s paddle with portages) where Grey Owl and his wife, Anahareo, lived and are buried. Weekender Tours in Saskatoon organizes a four-day Canoe Quest for Grey Owl. Kids who want to stay closer to civilization can check out the Prince Albert National Park Nature Centre for daily programs and films. Call 1-877-255-7267.





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