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Nature Rivers


The Long Run of the Wild River

by (author) Philip Lee

Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Jun 2020
Rivers, Environmental Conservation & Protection, Historical Geography, Human Geography, Regional, General, Atlantic Provinces
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2020
    List Price

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Winner, WFNB Nonfiction Award
Longlisted, Miramichi Reader's "The Very Best!" Book Awards (Non-Fiction)
A CBC New Brunswick Book List Selection
An Atlantic Books Today Must-Have New Brunswick Books of 2020 Selection

The Restigouche River flows through the remote border region between the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick, its magically transparent waters, soaring forest hillsides, and population of Atlantic salmon creating one of the most storied wild spaces on the continent. In Restigouche, writer Philip Lee follows ancient portage routes into the headwaters of the river, travelling by canoe to explore the extraordinary history of the river and the people of the valley. They include the Mi’gmaq, who have lived in the Restigouche valley for thousands of years; the descendants of French Acadian, Irish, and Scottish settlers; and some of the wealthiest people in the world who for more than a century have used the river as an exclusive wilderness retreat.

The people of the Restigouche have long been both divided and united by a remarkable river that each day continues to assert itself, despite local and global industrial forces that now threaten its natural systems and the survival of the salmon. In the deep pools and rushing waters of the Restigouche, in this place apart in a rapidly changing natural world, Lee finds a story of hope about how to safeguard wild spaces and why doing so is the most urgent question of our time.

About the author

Michael Harris calls Philip Lee "one of the country's best-kept journalistic secrets." Drawing on his skill and experience as an investigative journalist, Lee based Frank: The Life and Politics of Frank McKenna on a wide range of published material, on diaries, and other confidential records, and on interviews with McKenna and those around him, from family friends to political enemies. Beginning with stories for The Sunday Express that prompted the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Mount Cashel orphanage, Philip Lee's writing has received numerous honours. In 1991, Lee joined the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal and Saint John Times Globe, where he wrote the award-winning series Watershed Down and the book Home Pool. In 1998, after two years as editor of the Atlantic Salmon Journal, Lee returned to the Telegraph Journal as editor-in-chief. Under his leadership, the newspaper and its weekend magazine, The New Brunswick Reader, won several regional and national newspaper and magazine awards. Philip Lee currently writes for the Ottawa Citizen and is head of the journalism program at St. Thomas University in Fredericton.

Philip Lee's profile page


  • Winner, WFNB Nonfiction Award
  • Long-listed, <i>Miramichi Reader</i>'s "The Very Best!" Book Awards (Non-Fiction)

Editorial Reviews

"In this love story about a wild river, a metaphor for all love stories about wild places, Lee describes the intricate and intimate experience, the profound caring, and deep pleasures of a long-term relationship and, in the telling, connects us with All That Is."

Freeman Patterson, author of <i>The Last Wilderness: Images of the Canadian Wild</i>

"Restigouche is a paean for the river that flows for 200 kilometres through the remote border region between New Brunswick and Quebec, a river with beautifully transparent waters, forest hillsides and Atlantic salmon, and for the people who have lived beside and from the river for thousands of years."

<i>Winnipeg Free Press</i>

"Extraordinarily well crafted—what is essentially an academic exercise has been transformed into a hard-to-put-down page turner, as compelling as a fine novel."


"From its geological origins, to the importance of this vast watershed to First Nations and early settlers alike, Philip Lee’s latest book, Restigouche: The Long Run of the Wild River, covers much ground, or more accurately water."

<i>Atlantic Salmon Journal</i>

“Told with a journalist's objectivity and a poet's sensibility, Lee’s Restigouche is an extraordinary work of research and finely-crafted writing that should be revisited and widely shared.”

<i>The Miramichi Reader</i>'s “Revisiting Restigouche”

“This is a carefully crafted book, a personal testimony set within a wider context of impersonal forces that have been exerted across dozens of generations. For Lee, a lifetime of canoeing, fishing, and socializing along the Restigouche translates into an innovative and thoughtful portrayal of this river.”

<i>Journal of New Brunswick Studies</i>

"Using an ambitious canoe trip as the structure for his story, Lee takes readers through calm waters, white rapids and occasional portages to share the many characters and events that have shaped the region’s rich history. The journey is long, deep and involved, but moves with a comfort and confidence rarely found in texts of this complexity."

<i>Grid City Magazine</i>

"Journey down an ancient wild river with a seasoned river man and gifted storyteller. Hear the aspirations and hearts of the original river people of this land called Mi'gmag'i and the newcomers who have grown to love this river and the gifts she shares with all who take the time."

Cecelia Brooks, Waponahkew nil & Canadian Rivers Institute Water Grandmother

"This stunning book published by Goose Lane Editions is a beautiful and poetic love letter to one of Canada's most beautiful rivers and you need it on your coffee table now."


"Magnificent. A grand and sweeping tale that is also the story of New Brunswick, of the Maritimes, of Canada. What Philip Lee has done in Restigouche is compose a compelling, poetic love letter to the forever river of his life. This book is his plea for conservation, protection, and restoration. But it is also, happily, a book filled with love of the river and hope for its future."

Roy MacGregor, author of <i>Original Highways: Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada</i>

"Lee offers ... concrete descriptions of the life that flows around him, which he complements with engaging chapters on the complex, multi-layered history of the region."

<i>Literary Review of Canada</i>

"In Restigouche, Philip Lee offers a rich and immersive travel memoir full of adventure, as well as the history of place and its people, a philosophical and ecological treatise, and a plea, if not a lament, for the natural world and all the living beings that depend on it. One man’s love and exploration of this one river offer the reader a glimpse of what’s possible when we pay due respect and attention to the world’s wild places, not to mention to the people who dwell there, and what calamity awaits when, as happens all too often, greed and decadence get the upper hand."

Naomi K. Lewis

"A great combination of delightful semi-wilderness river trips on the Restigouche, and a highly political book about the need to protect and restore the river."

<i>Ottawa Life Magazine</i>

"This is a special book, for many reasons."

<i>The Miramichi Reader</i>

"A brilliant work; a living, breathing and truly unforgettable account of the great Restigouche River by a master chronicler of our natural world."

David Adams Richards, author of <i>Lines on the Water: A Fisherman’s Life on the Miramichi</i>

Other titles by Philip Lee