The boreal forest of Quebec/Labrador – some of the most rugged and isolated land in Canada – has captivated avid canoeists for generations. In the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, the intrepid A.P. Low of the Geological Survey of Canada spent, in total, more than ten years of his working life surveying the area. Employing Aboriginal canoemen and guides, he travelled by canoe, snowshoe and sailing vessel to map and document much of this vast territory.
Challenged by the mystique of this extraordinary Canadian, canoeists Max Finkelstein and James Stone retraced Low’s routes – by their admission, their toughest canoe trip ever! Using archival sources, oral history and personal experience, they tell the story of A.P. Low and, in the process, reveal the environmental issues now facing this much threatened Canadian wilderness.
"Once again Max Finkelstein has blessed us with his incredible ability to make history of exploration come alive. Rather than sit behind a desk and try to imagine the ’misadventures’ Low would have had, he goes out and duplicates them, and along the way creates a few tales of his own. This is one great read and we should be thankful that people like Max and Jim Stone exist in this world of ours."
- Kevin Callan, well-known author and canoeist
"From A.P. Low’s logs and reports, Max Finkelstein and Jim Stone give vitality to that great geological surveyor. Interspersed are vivid accounts of their own challenging canoe voyages on the same rivers and portages of the boreal forest and rock in the James Bay/Ungava/Labrador country of the Cree, Innu and Inuit. What emerges is an eloquent testimonial for the wilderness canoe trip in the Canadian experience."
Bruce W. Hodgins, Emeritus Professor of History, Trent University; President, Camp Wanapitei; Member, Advisory Council, Canadian Canoe Museum
Paddler, author, environmentalist and raconteur, Max Finkelstein works as the Communications Officer for the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, Canada’s national program for river conservation. When he is not speaking about, writing about, or otherwise promoting Canada’s river heritage, Max can usually be found paddling on a river. He has paddled over 22,000 kilometres in North America, Europe, Africa and Australia. His first book, Canoeing a Continent: On the Trail of Alexander Mackenzie, which described his experiences retracing the historic first crossing of North America by a European, was released by Natural Heritage in 2002. Paddling the Boreal Forest: Rediscovering A.P. Low, an extraordinary project undertaken with his friend and paddling partner James Stone, sent the two of them to northern Quebec to retrace and experience first-hand the routes of geologist, map-maker and explorer A.P. Low.
Max and his wife, Connie Downes, live in Ottawa, where they are introducing their son, Isaac Thelon, to a life of travelling on and learning about rivers.
James Stone works as an economist at the Department of International Trade Canada. He first rediscovered A.P. Low while a student at Queen’s University and kept the idea of writing the biography of this man in the back of his mind since then. Jim has varied northern experience, including geodetic mapping in northern Quebec and the Yukon, canoeing the Nahanni, the Hanbury/Thelon Rivers, and now the Eastmain and Rupert Rivers. On a posting in Brussels he also helped to keep the European market open for Canadian fur.
He is currently posted in Singapore, where he ignored the hot and humid weather to write about A.P. Low’s adventures in the north. His spouse Michaela and sons Adam and Benjamin have been highly supportive of his northern leanings and may yet go on a northern trip with him.