Published by Fox Meadow
The picture on the front cover of the book is a reproduction of a woodblock print, by Lorrie Szekat, of High Falls on the Oxtongue River. Dickson describes the falls in his narrative. The Dickson portrait above is a pencil sketch, also by Lorrie, based on an old photograph.
by James Dickson
How would you like to canoe through what is now Algonquin Park in the 1880s? James Dickson knew the Algonquin highlands better than anyone. His book, first published in 1886 under the title Camping in the Muskoka Region, is an account of a canoe voyage from Lake of Bays up the Oxtongue River and through the chains of lakes enjoyed every year now by thousands of Algonquin Park adventurers.
Writing in a charmingly quaint style, Dickson provides vivid descriptions of the wild scenery and abundant wildlife, as well as detailed instructions for paddling birchbark canoes and cooking in the manner of the 19th-century bush camp.
Dickson explored the Algonquin highlands extensively between 1878 and 1885 as a surveyor for the Ontario government. Although these surveys were intended as a prelude to agricultural settlement, Dickson and others recognized the real potential of the region: recreation. Dickson, in fact, is considered one of the “fathers” of Algonquin Park through his central role in the establishment of Ontario’s most famous park in 1893.
Much of the territory Dickson travelled through was part of the last remaining island of virgin wilderness on the Algonquin highlands. A few years afterwards the lumbermen moved in … notably the Gilmour company, as told in When Giants Fall: The Gilmour Quest for Algonquin Pine. Dickson’s narrative is all the more valuable for its detailed account of how things looked originally.
We at Fox Meadow are proud to present our new edition of James Dickson’s classic. We’ve added unobtrusive notes to help put the narrative in perspective for today’s reader, as well as a short biography of Dickson outlining how the congenial small-town surveyor contributed to the founding of a world-renowned park.