Just recently, Hap received a letter of reference from the Ontario Trails Council, and it’s executive committee members, endorsing Ecotrailbuilders (Eskakwa) as one of the few qualified experts of Trails and Trail Development in Ontario.
As you are aware there are not many professional practitioners of trail development in Ontario. This fact is rather disconcerting given that there are over 2600 trails, many are multiuse, and the total distances represented is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 80,000 km.
The Ontario Trails Council calls you “an expert” with due consideration to your wide ranging experience as a trail guide, parks staff, trail warden, trail developer, route planner, map maker, environmentalist and professional trail consultant. We believe that your advice regarding trail development and land management to be prudent, cautionary and balanced.
Hap’s list of clients include: Canada Parks, Trans Canada Trail, Canadian Heritage River Systems, Manitoba Tourism, Manitoba Natural Resources, Ontario Ministry Of Natural Resources, Ontario Nature Federation, Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association, Township Of Seguin, Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, J.W. Marriott Resort Inn Muskoka, Inn At Manitou Relais Et Chateau, and Earthroots.
Eco Trails Accomplished to Date:
WATER-BASED ROUTES: 12,000 KM.
LAND-BASED TRAILS : 700 KM.
NUMBER OF CONSTRUCTIONS: 425
LENGTH OF BOARDWALKS: 3,500 M.
Visit the Eco Trailbuilders Services page for more information about the multitude of eco trail services that Hap and his team of trail builders provide.
“Since its founding, the TCT’s vision has been a trail stretching from coast to coast to coast. A trail for the enjoyment of hikers/walkers, cyclists, horseback riders and, more recently, canoeists and kayakers in summer, and cross country skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers in winter.” ~ from the TCT Website
Named “Path of the Paddle” in honour of Canadian canoeing legend Bill Mason and our Canadian Canoeing Heritage, this water trail will now be part of the world renowned Trans Canada Trail system that connects 3 oceans. With plans for over 1000 km of passage throughout Northwestern Ontario along with 6 unique trail segments connecting Thunder Bay to the Manitoba border, the Path of the Paddle (part of the Trans Canada Water Trail system) will provide an unique Canadian wilderness experience, for every season, within the Heart of this Great Continent.
Not only does Hap support the project, but he is also designing the trailhead signage as well as working on a manuscript with detailed mapping of the routes through his extensive fieldwork (along with his wife and partner, Andrea Turner-Wilson). It is expected the PTP guide book will be made available for 2014.
All my books had and still have a huge environmental “push” in a political climate where it has become a User-based system of management…and I use the word management very loosely. Basically…it’s a ‘use it or lose it’ mentality, hopefully where adventure tourism edges out industrial motives. Path of the Paddle is straddled in complex bureaucratic red tape that I’m wading through, hopefully making some gains in changing an outdated government system that has always bolstered a consumptive use of the wilderness.”
~ Hap Wilson (2013)
Hap also recently referred to the project on his Facebook page in a comment, “Bill was a kindred spirit and devoted environmentalist; not all paddlers are of such faith and dedication. The Trans Canada Trail water route I’m working on for a new guidebook (Path of the Paddle) honours the name and work of Bill Mason.”
The Path of the Paddle (PTP) project would not be possible except for the work of a small number of dedicated people. PTP recently applied for its incorporation as a Not-For-Profit organization having also recently obtained their Directors & Officers insurance (to help protect the directors and many volunteers who are working so hard to make the Path of the Paddle project become a reality).
“We stood at a long, sloping bedrock terrace; before us, riverside, was a neatly trimmed, brown log cabin, and set below the cabin, overlooking the falls, was a quaint canopied gazebo. And elderly man was waving us over. Excited to know more about this haven in the midst of rock and pine, miles from anywhere, we complied and met the man on the deck with a barrage of questions. He welcomed us by pouring freshly brewed cofe in real ceramic mugs.” ~ Hap Wilson, The Cabin, (upon viewing this wilderness cabin paradise for the very first time as a young lad)
Located on the first falls south of Katherine (Divide) Lake on the Lady Evelyn River (now the Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park), the Cabin Falls is Canada’s most unique wilderness eco-lodge retreat.
Original 1931 picture from the Cabin Journal.
Original 1931 picture from the Cabin Journal.
Built in the early ’30’s, with this cabin (as one can imagine) the building and reparations of, are no easy task as all materials and supplies have to be flown in from Temagami, paddled down river (through two rapids with canoes lashed together) and portaged twice, sometimes three times.
Lumber and all other supplies have to be flown and paddled in.
Canoes lashed together with Andrea helping to steer the load.
Over 100 Beaver aircraft flights have been made to bring in lumber – almost all it milled in Muskoka from local timber mills cutting on private land (not Temagami!). In fact, much of the material was salvaged from construction sites or old buildings being torn down. Almost all work is done by hand tools only – from skinning logs with a draw-knife to paddling in propane fridge. Solar powered since 2000 and soon to have its own hydro-power by way of non-intrusive pelton turbine, this eco-retreat is a paradise of mind as well.
Propane fridge being brought in by canoe with Hap in the stern.
Andrea skins the logs with a draw knife in the summer heat of 2012.
The old deck (circa 1931) being torn apart and replaced (2012).
“… I felt that I would, someday, become conjoined with this wonderful place at the falls; call it premonition or gut feeling, the seed was planted for a new adventure that was sure to unfold sometime in the future.” ~ Hap Wilson, The Cabin, (upon visiting Cabin Falls for the very first time as a young lad)
Originally built by two American brothers as their own personal wilderness nirvana, Hap now has been taking client trips up to Cabin Falls EcoLodge for over twenty years; welcoming mostly executive and family groups, as well as photographers, writers and artists to a memorable wilderness eco-retreat. All fly-in by floatplane from Temagami but other visitors may include canoeists who are passing through and in need of shelter on trip as Hap always leaves a little cabin (away from the main structure) open for trippers in need.
Hap at work making things comfortable around the cabin.
But the history of the cabin’s custodians have not always been peaceful perfection. Besides the fact that one of the original owners, Newcolm, chopped his wife up with an axe and slit his own throat with a razor at their home in 1934; at one time there were many who saw Cabin Falls and it’s occupants as a threat to their destructive economic ideals and single-minded industry.
“We woke up the next morning to a smoke-filled cabin. It was so thick outside that we couldn’t see across the river, less than fifty yards away. …”They’re trying to burn you out!” he announced. … “Elk Lakers — two of them — they were boasting about it in the local bar last night and someone overheard them,” Dawson expained, saying nothing more and returning to the post office. Shit. So, they actually did it, the bastards. They burned out the park, just like they said they would.” ~ Hap Wilson, The Cabin
To learn more about Cabin Falls, it’s history and it’s soul; read the book The Cabin – A Search For Personal Sanctuary, written and illustrated by Hap Wilson or visit for yourself!
Hap has always applied himself to his environmentalism as an art; creating change and awareness in people’s minds by use of his stories, his honest attitude to his writings, his ability tocapture the spirit of the land – in both words and in illustrations – mapping the routes to make it easier for our needful souls to connect with the earth, to live more simply, and to celebrate Nature (and our place in it) by remembering our more ancient selves like Hap has…. Always his motivation being to protect Her.
Through his guide books, his stories and art, Hap has helped to paint the very canvas of what our waterways and lands have become today… where rivers and trails are still being utilized by people and their canoes – yet to be completely handed over to industry. By just getting out in a canoe and using these ancient and modern-day routes with respect, you are doing (a little bit of) your part. Because Hap knows, and so do you, that if we don’t use it, we are subject to losing it.
“The Rivers book came about as a response to the heavy traffic on the Dumoine after my first river guidebook came out in the late 1980’s (dedicated just to the Dumoine). To relieve the pressure off the Dumoine I mapped out the “sister” rivers (primarily the Black and the Coulonge), equally exciting rivers, in order to displace more user-traffic…and it worked nicely. It also offered the paddler more choice, and it was easier on the environment; as well, it generated an awareness for river protection in a province bent on damming all rivers for hydro-power. All my books had and still have a huge environmental “push” in a political climate where it has become a User-based system of management…and I use the word management very loosely. Basically…it’s a ‘use it or lose it’ mentality, hopefully where adventure tourism edges out industrial motives. Path of the Paddle is straddled in complex bureaucratic red tape that I’m wading through, hopefully making some gains in changing an outdated government system that has always bolstered a consumptive use of the wilderness.” ~ Hap Wilson (2013)
If you have yet to pick up a guide book by Hap, you will not quite understand the depth he takes to connect the reader to the land and the trail. An honest review, blogged at A Whole Bunch Of Ings, captures just how advantageous having a guide book by Hap can be (in this case, The Rivers Of The Upper Ottawa Valley).
“I picked up a book today which was unreal. I have rediscovered our local library over the past couple weeks, and stumbled on Rivers of the upper Ottawa valley (myths,magic and adventure.) … The title says it all basically. This is a comprehensive,detailed,cornucopia of awesomeness. Everything from maps of what Algonquin tribe lived where (and a bit about each) to legends,to safety, oh and it’s a guide book as well! … It’s the kind of book which get’s you excited about a area, and honestly has given me so much information about things I never knew existed in my own backyard.” ~ A Whole Bunch Of Ings
The best way to launch a new blog is with good news.
This past season, Hap and his “lovely Canadian Sherpa wife” Andrea guided three photographers into the wilds of Temagami in search of the rare and beautiful Indian Pipe (a delicate flowering plant). A film of their adventure was made and titled as Indian Pipe Hunters.
Hap and film producer/photographer Graham Uden, have just now received word that their film has made the Reel Paddling Film Festival (RPFF) shortlist and is now being screened with the Reel Paddling Film Festival 2013 Tour at locations across the country and around the world!
Congratulations to all involved in making this important environmental awareness film in protection of Temagami and our wild world.
The film dedication reads as follows:
“In this day of 4WDs with canoe racks and snowmobiles with foot warmers and GPS, the wildnerness has little affinity to most. Those who are still comfortable in it are a dying breed. Those who are willing to defend and protect it are few and irreplaceable….. This video is dedicated to those few…”
Video description:Three city based photographers, Graham Uden, Keith Nash and Aani Andriani enlist the help of Canada’s legendary wilderness guide and canoeist, Hap Wilson, and follow in the footsteps of “Grey Owl” to locate and photograph the rare and esoteric “Indian Pipe”