Aside from short stints with Hollywood (teaching Pierce Brosnan how to throw a knife and paddle a canoe), Wilson has been researching and writing canoeing guidebooks since 1977. With twelve published books under his belt (The Cabin, Trails & Tribulations, Grey Owl and Me the latest additions – short stories) you’ll also find his work in major magazines like Canadian Geographic, Explore or Cottage Life.
Recipient of the prestigious Bill Mason Award for lifetime achievement in River Conservation, and recognized as one of Canada’s leading environmentalists, Wilson was also recently indoctrinated into the Century-old New York based Explorer’s Club as an International Fellow. His current project is knitting together the Trans Canada Trail from Thunder Bay to Manitoba (900km) researching old canoe routes for yet another guidebook. The Path of the Paddle project is continuing this summer with more routes recently added to this iconic coming publication. With more charting and paddling to do this summer, Wilson has already paddled more than 60,000km. covering many parts of Canada and embarked on over 300 expeditions as wilderness guide and pathfinder.
As a naturally instinctive pathfinder, Wilson first constructed trails, bridges and boardwalks as a park ranger in Temagami from 1977 to 1984, which included Ontario’s first old-growth hiking trail on Temagami Island. Since then he has charted, mapped, and designed thousands of kilometres of cultural canoe routes and hundreds of kilometres of land-based hiking, ski and bike trails.
Wilson has been passionately creating trails with endless energy for private land-owners, world-class resorts, nature reserves and provincial governments across Canada for decades. With his love and profound respect for our natural world as a motivator, and his knowledge of the front lines between the wilderness and industry, Wilson began to chart canoe routes and hiking trails to encourage awareness and public protections for our sacred forests and rivers.
With his background and knowledge of the environment and with a profound respect for the ecosystems of this world, Hap’s approach to trail building is built on his principles; always complimenting the wilderness that encompasses his spellbinding paths while leaving as little impact as is possible. Wilson will take the time to move a fallen tree, that has become the home to many creatures, a safe distance away from the build so they (and the forest around them) may continue to thrive. Wilson also prefers to use biodegradable chain-oil in the chainsaws because the work is often done in sensitive vegetative areas where oil spray from regular commercial chain oil can seriously harm plant and animal life. As a truly ecologically conscious builder, Wilson feels that the extra expense for this oil is a necessary investment.
Besides building many renowned trails, Wilson is a self taught artist and author. Having documented his many journeys and adventures with his veracious pen, Hap is also an award-winning nature writer/illustrator of 13 guidebooks and an award-winning photographer as well as co-founder of the Toronto-based environment group Earthroots.
Currently, Wilson sits on the national committee for Trails in Canada, sponsored by Canada Parks and the Trans Canada Trail. Eco Trailbuilders is presently researching and designing the Trans Canada Trail link water trail from Thunder Bay to Manitoba. Wilson lives in Rosseau, Ontario with his longtime love and cherished wife, Andrea, along with their two adorable children.