Hap speaks out: Save The Rangers

In September 2012 the Liberal government cancelled the 70-year old Ontario Ranger program, formerly known as the Ontario Junior Forest Ranger Program.

The Ontario Ranger Program provided an opportunity for young workers to gain first-hand knowledge of resource management through a work and learning experience. More than 78,000 Ontario youth have participated in the 70-year old program.

Yet without any prior public consultation – the program was abruptly cancelled.

MNR Rangers Logo

The Ontario Government made claims the Stewardship Youth Ranger Program, an existing day program, would deliver the same experience and would offer more jobs.

Not surprisingly, this is simply not the case whatsoever. In fact, it’s NOT the same at all!

Now, the new Premier Kathleen Wynne government has committed $295 million dollars in the 2013 provincial budget for youth employment.


The ranger program was, for thousands of young people, a life-altering experience for all the right reasons. ~ Hap Wilson, Requiem For A Ranger


It is time to speak out and do your part to help get the original Junior Ranger program reinstated. You can take action here: Save The Rangers (savetherangers.ca)

See what Hap has to say about this travesty, and how the new program poorly imitates the original Ranger program by way of The Toronto Star: Requiem For A Ranger

Full link: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/08/23/requiem_for_the_ontario_rangers.html

Copy of Op Ed piece stored on the Save The Rangers website: http://media.wix.com/ugd/d73ceb_037117aa61dd144d2d5999388bda000f.pdf

SaveTheRangersLogo*Please note, the majority of the text for this post was sourced from our friends at SaveTheRangers.ca. For more information about how you can help this historical and culturally rich program become reinstated, be sure to contact the good folks who are spearheading this campaign by visiting SaveTheRangers.ca.

Hap & The Paddle In The Park Contest

Not long before the season started this year, Hap and Andrea were approached by their friends at Badger Paddles and Portageur.ca to help with an intriguing contest idea.


There has never been a greater need for society to unplug and reconnect all at the same time. The Paddle In The Park Contest was created to remind people of the many rewards of getting outside, from our health and well being, to supporting our parks and wild places. What better way to do this than with a chance to find a handcrafted Badger® paddle, hidden somewhere in parks across Ontario?


So, with the hope to encourage more people to get “Out There”, Hap and Andrea decided to join the Paddle In The Park Contest crew to help promote spending time in the wilderness (parks and conservation areas as well as remote locations) by way of hiding a paddle in the Temagami area and also by providing prizes for the contest winners.


Hap Wilson & Andrea Turner-Wilson


You see, Hap and his beautiful Andrea have not only contributed their time to finding a good place to hide a paddle, but have also provided prints of The Skier and signed copies of Hap’s book “Grey Owl and Me” to the Paddle In The Park Contest prize packages (which also include gear and SWAG from Swift Canoe, Algonquin Outfitters, Portageur.ca, and more).


The Skier :: Temagami

So to explain it all in more detail, Hap Wilson is joining two other paddle hiders by individually hiding 6 canoe paddles at different dates in undisclosed locations (along the portage trails) around 3 different canoeing areas in Ontario (Algonquin, Temagami, and Killarney) and who ever finds them while on trip – gets to keep them!

As an incentive for recording the found paddles with the Paddle In The Park Contest organizers,  they have also compiled a number of backend prizes that the paddle finders will receive once they have contacted contest officials to let them know they have, indeed, found a paddle. Hopefully with pictures and a good story to share with the rest of us too.


Grey Owl and Me

Plus, to help make more people aware of the rewards of getting “Out There”, they have also gathered a bunch of prizes to give away to those who are following along back at home or who are too far away to find a paddle themselves. You can enter the home version of the Paddle In The Park Contest here: Enter Draw.

The contest runs until September 15th or until all the paddles are found – which ever comes first.

PaddleintheparkcontestPaddle In The Park Contest:

There are 6 (six) Badger® Canoe Paddles hidden along the portage trails in Algonquin, Temagami and Killarney areas
• Clues to their specific location will be offered throughout the summer, becoming increasingly specific
• The contest will also include draws to take place each time a paddle is found
• Once you find a paddle, contact us and we’ll send you the rest of the prize package
• Prizes, besides the hidden paddles, include signed books by authors Hap Wilson, and others along with prizes provided by Portageur.ca, Jeff’s Map, North Water, Swift Canoe, Algonquin Outfitters, Keyak, Hooligan Gear and more!

Visit the Paddle In The Park Contest website for prizes and other information:


But this is not just about finding paddles. In fact, the folks at the Paddle In The Park Contest put together 9+1 Rewards and Reasons to spend time in nature every day this summer by composing a list that includes benefits for your heath, relationships, sleep and brain function.

Badger PaddlesNow start thinking about where you think Hap and Andrea may have hidden that paddle. Enter your best guess here: Enter Paddle In The Park Contest Home Version for your chance to win at home.

Plus don’t forget to visit the Paddle In The Park Contest website for clues (even a map!) if you have a trip planned in Temagami, Algonquin or Killarney this summer.

Two paddles have already been found but the rewards are still “Out There”.

Footbridge on the Centre Falls Trail

Centre Falls - 1978

Centre Falls – 1978

Since at least 1947, there was a footbridge on site along a challenging section on the Centre Falls trail in Temagami (now part of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park). That changed in 2003 when the MNR removed the footbridge for liability and budgetary reasons. The path that must now be used predates the bridge but includes a very difficult and steep climb up and down the small ravine.

A direct message from Hap Wilson on the removal of the Centre Falls Footbridge in Temagami:

When I was a park ranger in Temagami back in 1978, one of my first jobs was to rebuild the footbridge at Centre Falls (then Lady Evelyn Waterway Park – pre Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Wilderness Park).

The old bridge, built in the early 1960’s by a dozen Junior Rangers and two foremen over a 2-week period, spanned the sixty-foot ravine beside the falls. I had a crew of four and we rebuilt the bridge in five-days in early May. Tar and rolled asphalt helped preserve the joints.

The bridge was still in good shape well into the new century; however, the MNR removed the bridge for liability reasons a few years ago, even though the couple of planks that had deteriorated could easily have been replaced.

It is a very difficult lift or drop through the ravine without the bridge. When the MNR took down the bridge they left all the spike-laced debris in clear site instead of dragging it back into the bush; when we built the bridge we made sure the old take-down material was cleared away.

If you think this iconic footbridge should be rebuilt again, let me know…I’ve seen a lot of trippers struggle through this dangerous cut in the rocks.”

~Hap Wilson, June 2013

To let Hap know YOUR VIEW, leave a comment below, email him at info@ecotrailbuilders.com or find other ways to contact Hap Wilson here: Contact Hap Wilson – Eco Trailbuilders

Rebuilding Centre Falls Bridge - 1978

Rebuilding Centre Falls Bridge – 1978

Hap and his crew working on Centre Falls Bridge - 1978

Hap and his crew working on Centre Falls Bridge – 1978

Rebuilding Centre Falls Bridge - 1978

Rebuilding Centre Falls Bridge – 1978

Farley Mowat on “Grey Owl And Me”

At one time, there were very few Canadians who had not heard the name Grey Owl. Today, there are very few Canadians who have not heard the name Farley Mowat. As a Canadian author and environmentalist whose works have been translated into 52 languages with more than 17 million books sold, Farley has also been a long time patron of EARTHROOTS. Thus, as co-founder of the important environmental group EARTHROOTS, Hap became associated with Farley, who then became a bit of a mentor for Hap. So it was with great honour that Hap received this short scribbled note (see below) from Mr. Mowat upon reading Hap’s book, Grey Owl and Me: Stories From the Trail and Beyond .


Scribbled note from Farley Mowat

‘Hap! “Grey Owl” is great — really enjoyed it. Many Thanks. F.’

But Farley Mowat isn’t the only one who thinks Hap’s Stories From the Trail and Beyond is a great read. Below are some more reviews taken from various sources across the internet and other mediums:

Wilson doesn’t go so far as to admit to being Grey Owl’s modern-day equal, but in many ways he’s picked up where Belaney left off. As celebrated he was as an author and orator in England, Belaney died young, consumed by alcoholism and depression. Wilson, on the other hand, has logged almost 40,000 wilderness miles and is still going strong. In his outspoken passion for the land, lakes and rivers of northern Canada, he’s inspired a new generation of canoe trippers-and no doubt more to come. — Conor Mihell



“Now Im sitting here with 10 good quotes and double entendres from Grey Owl that I would like to drop into this review, but Im pretty sure none of them would fly with the editor (whats French for seal again?) so Im going to leave them out. Suffice it to say that even though there is a strong environmental aspect to the book and that environmental awareness is clearly the main order here, Grey Owl and Me is often just way too fun to be clean, and the really clean parts arent that quotable. But thats just how Hap [Wilson] rolls. If you want environmentalism with some edge, I cant think of a better place to jump in than right here.” — Chronicle-Journal (Thunder Bay)


Wilson’s stream of conscious writing style has the feel of a campfire story: It’s impossible not to be engaged by his tales, which range from idyllic summer canoe trips to winter dogsled expeditions, and standing at the frontlines of environmental debates with the likes of Paul Watson, the founder of the notoriously radical Sea Shepherd Society. The book is hard to put down. — Canoe and Kayak Magazine, 20100801


If you enjoyed [Hap Wilsons] other hilarious and jaw-dropping memoirs, you wont be disappointed. This one, too, is sprinkled with sparks of brilliant and insightful writing. — Ottertooth.com


Grey Owl and Me

As expected, Hap’s call for environmental conservation is reflected in the very materials of this book, which has been printed on paper from well-managed forests and other controlled sources as approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). For more information about Mixed Sources and the FSC, visit their website: www.fsc.org. Don’t forget that you may purchase books directly from the author, and Hap always includes a personalized message and/or signature for those who ask.  Contact Hap for purchasing and details.

Hap Wilson – Eco Trailbuilders Endorsed by Ontario Trails Council

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.

Letter of Endorsement from OTC


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:





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.

Path of the Paddle Project – The Trans Canada Trail by Water

“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.


TCT - Path of the Paddle map preview.



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.”


Hap Wilson & Andrea Turner-Wilson

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).

“Like” PTP on Facebook to learn how to become involved or visit the TCT website for more information about this historic trail system.

To follow the progress of the TCT – Path of the Paddle project, be sure to connect with PTP and Hap Wilson – Ecotrailbuilders on Facebook or Twitter.

Cabin Falls :: Rebuilding Paradise

“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.

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.

Lumber and all other supplies have to be flown and paddled in.


Canoes lashed together with Andrea helping to steer the load.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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!

Of Guide Books & Other “Ings”

Upper Ottawa Valley Guide Book

Upper Ottawa Valley Guide Book

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

Read the full review here: Rivers of the Upper Ottawa Valley or contact Hap Wilson – EcoTrailbuilders. See you on the water!

Indian Pipe Hunters – Shortlisted at RPFF

Indian Pipe Hunters Film :: RPFF Shortlist 2013

Indian Pipe Hunters

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…”

Watch the video below or visit the Reel Paddling Film Festival website for a screening location near you :: www.reelpaddlingfilmfestival.com.

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”