Book Review: Guide for canoeists goes with the flow in Alberta badlands

Alberta has long been known for the outdoors, and now if anyone was ever thinking of embarking on a canoe trip, consider taking

Alberta has long been known for the outdoors, and now if anyone was ever thinking of embarking on a canoe trip, consider taking the incredibly thorough “Prairie Paddling: Discovering Alberta’s Badlands by Canoe” as a guide.

The book, by Arie Vandervelden, covers the best places to canoe in the Alberta badlands. Not only does it give lengthy descriptions of what exactly people can expect on each canoeing route, but it’s also peppered with personal stories, canoeing tips and historical anecdotes.

I’m serious when I say that this is the only guide an Alberta canoeist will ever need.

Vandervelden has included all the information you could possibly require during a canoe trip: each section includes maps and information on what travellers are likely to encounter, and most include websites or phone numbers for the local campgrounds.

It was obvious that an incredible amount of research went into the book, and canoeing enthusiasts will likely be excited by the release of the book.

I, for one, learned that the proper term for people who canoe is “canoeists” and not “canoers.”

I also now have the urge to go out and canoe, despite the fact that I haven’t been canoeing for eight years.

Vandervelden has an accessible and conversational style, which is good for people like me who aren’t great at following written guides. But he also doesn’t make it so simple so as to be condescending. He’s like a friendly guide sitting beside the reader, giving helpful hints, encouragement and personal stories for entertainment.

Easily my favourite parts of the book were the historical anecdotes. Alberta is rich with history that doesn’t get mentioned that often, so I liked the idea of promoting it. My favourite historical anecdote was the section on Happy Jack, the solitary, drunk cowboy who hated Nellie McClung and would use a gun inside his house.

There are some issues with punctuation, but nothing major, and sometimes the level of detail gets monotonous, but overall the book is a solid, thorough guide to everything one would want to know about Prairie paddling.

— Robin Tarnowetzki, Stettler Independent


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