Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bill Mason: Patron Saint of Canoeing.

Any person who refers to themselves a paddler has learned some of their skills from Bill Mason. Often referred to as the "Patron Saint of Canoeing", he had done more for bringing the knowledge and joy paddling to the masses then anyone other person has. Along with canoeing, film making, writing, and being a fine artist, he was just as talked about for raising environmental issues. Born April 21, 1929 in Winnipeg, Bill enjoyed the water from a very early age, building his first boat at the ripe age of 12. Working as a canoe guide and camp counselor for Manitoba Pioneer Camp in the mid 50's and an animator in the late 50's Bill when met and married Joyce, his beloved wife and soul mate. They would later have two children Paul, and Rebecca, both are still very active in the art and paddle sport community. Bill made 17 well known films. The three that I know best is "Path of the paddle", a series of films that show the viewer methods of paddling in flat water as well as white water. "Song of the paddle" is a beautiful film showing Bill and his lovely Family on a canoe trip. My favorite part of this film is the conversation Bill and Becky have regarding his Pancakes. Camp pancakes just don't turn out pretty like at home!. The last one that I am have seen multiple time is "Waterwalker", a film showcasing Bill on a solo trip around Lake Superior area. Bill Also wrote a "Path of the Paddle" book which is a companion piece to the film of the same name, also he wrote "Song of the Paddle" which goes into detail the knowledge of wilderness camping. I remember being 5 or 6 and my Father borrowing the reel film version of Bills movies from the Library and watching them projected on the living room wall. Then Later in life having to ask "what were those camping movies" then finding them on VHS. He was a Traditionalist, being out in the bush / water from thaw to freeze over. Always in plaid with his Woods Pack and Bakers tent, which a lot of people now refer to as the "Bill Mason" tent. His red Prospector Cedar Canvas Canoe is at the Peterborough Canoe Museum for all to see. And I will say they when I went to look at his canoe, it gave me goose bumps. The energy in that Canoe is something that one can truly feel. Bill passed away Oct 1988. I would have loved to share a story and a laugh with Bill, however watching the legacy in film and print of this great man is fine enough. So please pick up one of his books, and a DVD of his films, or a print of his art. All of the above can be purchased at, as well as Becky's and Paul's Artwork.

The "Bill Mason" Uniform (from Ebay and Etsy):

Filson Summer Packer Hat.

Red Bandana, Made in the USA.

Pendelton Wool Shirt

Vintage harness leather belt with brass buckle.

Levis big "E" cut off shorts.

Kodiak wool socks.

Woods Canada #200 canoe pack.

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