Happy 150th Birthday Canada

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and safe Canada Day! To celebrate, Trail guide pictures decided to provide free streaming of their documentary “Canoe – Icon of the North” on youtube. Check it out above.

(Feature photo above was taken by myself at Killarney Provincial Park at sunrise on O.S.A. Lake during the summer of 2015)

The Birth of a Dugout Canoe – by Northmen

I wanted to share this cool video released by Northmen Guild (formerly known as John Neeman Tools). They are a guild of northern European master craftsmen who use traditional craftsmanship handed down through many generations to create tools, vessels and goods.

“This is a documentary movie uncovering the difficult and time consuming process of making traditional expanded dugout canoe using mostly traditional hand tools and techniques.

The master woodworker in this movie is Richard (Rihards Vidzickis) – an experienced green wood worker, wood sculptor and dugout canoe maker. Richard’s passion to green wood and solid wood creations has grown together with him since his childhood days. Richard’s father is also a wood worker and carpenter and has led his son into the beautiful world of working with wood. Richard has gone through all the traditional steps of becoming a master woodworker – starting from an apprentice, then journeyman and then receiving his Master degree in Latvian chamber of crafts. Richard’s passion to wood is not only sculpturing and carving it but also knowing the wood in a scientific level. So Richard has studied in Technical university as a student and reached his degree of Doctor in engineering materials science, so he has combined the craft, nature and science in his life and work. While working in furniture making during the studies, with making different kinds of difficult wood carving for Jugend, Barrocal, Renesance design style furniture, Richard has discovered that he tends to get back to more rustic, robust and natural forms of wood, so he created a park of massive wooden sculptures, wood crafts museum and live workshop where Richard lives and creates wooden bowls, plates, boats and accepts visitors to share his work and lifestyle.”

The Canoe (film) – by Goh Iromoto

If you have 26 minutes, check out this beautiful film by talented documentary film maker Goh Iromoto.

“If it is love that binds people to places in this nation of rivers and in this river of nations then one enduring expression of that simple truth, is surely the canoe.”

This film captures the human connection and bond created by Canada’s well-known craft & symbol, the canoe. Through the stories of five paddlers across the province of Ontario, Canada – a majestic background both in it’s landscape & history – the film underscores the strength of the human spirit and how the canoe can be a vessel for creating deep and meaningful connections.

Filmmaker’s Note:

I started paddling around the age of 7, and thanks to the canoe, I’ve made some lifelong friends and connections, not to mention memories and stories, that I’ll never forget.

I wanted to show how several other paddlers similar to me have created strong intimate connections alongside the canoe. It really gave me great joy to see how rich the mosaic of stories I encountered were. Whether they were young or old, or from various cultural backgrounds, individuals were taking the traditional Canadian vessel and seeking new meaning with it. For me, the diverse paddlers I met represented a Canada that has grown and evolved since its birth 150 years ago – and something that I was able to stand proud of today.

I’ve continued to paddle my whole life and plan to do so for a very long time. Seeing and hearing these stories made me appreciate and realize how important the canoe is to my life. To all the paddlers out there (and to those who want to start!), this film is for you. Keep on paddling.

Thanks Goh Iromoto for making this awesome film!

The Canoe (trailer) – a film by Goh Iromoto

The canoe plays a pivotal role in the history of Canada. It was the vessel that allowed the voyageurs to utilize the rivers as highway systems for trade and expansion. It was the canoe that built Canada into the country it is today.  In the modern era, it serves as more than just a recreational vessel, but a symbol of Canada, and our heritage. I wanted to share this trailer of an upcoming film, scheduled to be released on 2/6/2017 called “The Canoe” by Goh Iromoto, which investigates the relationship of the canoe with the Canadian people.

“This film captures the human connection and bond created by Canada’s well-known craft & symbol, the canoe. Through the stories of five paddlers across the province of Ontario, Canada – a majestic background both in it’s landscape & history – the film underscores the strength of the human spirit and how the canoe can be a vessel for creating deep and meaningful connections.”

“Guided” trailer – Seedlight Pictures

“Guided profiles the gentle spirit of Maine wilderness guide Ray Reitze, in his element amidst the whispering pines, singing crickets and croaking frogs of the North Maine Woods. Ray shares his philosophy of how to live in harmony with the outdoors to the next generation of guides, grappling with his own mortality as he transitions from the physical world of guiding to a more spiritual understanding of nature and our ephemeral place in it.”

A cool video I came across, with some beautiful shots of the wilderness and canoe culture in Maine. Definitely looks like a place I’d like to paddle one day.

Happy New Years

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The North Fork of the Shenandoah River

We spent Christmas in a cabin along the Shenandoah River, just west of Shenandoah National Park. The weather was warm enough to paddle, so we paired up siblings and went head to head in canoe races up and down the river. It was rare for all of us to have a holiday break together so we naturally had to make the most of this occasion. I had never been to the town of Shenandoah (population 2354 in 2013) before this outing. And as we drove through this sleepy town, it was hard for me to imagine that this place served a key role during the civil war. There were three iron ore furnaces around this town which smelted raw iron into pig iron. Apparently in the days before the war, this pig iron was shipped down the Shenandoah River to Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. During war time, these goods were transported by wagon to Gordonsville, VA and then subsequently by rail to Richmond where it could have been used at the Tredegar Iron Works. Both of these Virginia mountain towns now are peaceful and quiet as can be. I was especially impressed by Gordonsville’s display of Christmas Lights. It was certainly a welcoming sight while driving through the winding, dark and foggy roads of the mountains.

I just realized that I have not been able to produce any new videos of canoe trips this year. I have several projects in the works right now but they have yet to be polished. I’ve been very happy overall with the performance of the Sony a6000 both as a still and video camera. Lately I’ve been experimenting with different lenses and shutter speeds in videography and have been able to catch some pretty decent footage. For our trip in Quebec, I also brought along an external audio recording device to see how the audio quality would compare to the native mic. Here is a demo reel of random shots I was able to capture in 2016.

2016 Demo Reel: by John Le

As the holidays come to a close and a new year around the corner, I look back at how much time I was able to spend with family and friends and the total number of nights I camped outdoors. While it was a good year for paddling and hiking, the total number of nights I spent outdoors, totaled just five. Four of those nights were in the La Verendrye Wilderness Reserve of Quebec, Canada and the other night was spent camping in St. Mary’s Wilderness. I’ve made up my mind….in 2017, I’m going for double digits. Happy New Years to all!

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Gordonsville, Virginia – all decked out for Christmas. In the middle of the Virginia mountains.

Voyageur Quest (Algonquin Park) by David Hartman

My favorite adventure, documentary filmmaker, David Hartman recently released this cool promo video he created for a company called Voyageur Quest in Algonquin Park, Ontario. Located in the remote Northwest corner of Algonquin Park, the company offers visitors a chance to stay at a cabin completely off the grid. They offer activities and lodging throughout the year for visitors to experience all that Algonquin has to offer. The video does an amazing job capturing the beauty and atmosphere of Algonquin Park. I have camped in Algonquin Park numerous times in my childhood and recently took a weeklong canoe trip with my brother in August 2014. Itching to go back.

Check out more of David’s work at his website: Hayfire Media.

The Path of Grey Owl – a Goh Iromoto film

This film by Goh Iromoto sheds light on the remarkable story of Grey Owl (Archibald Belaney), an Englishman who chose to take on the identity of a member of the First Nations people in Ontario, Canada. He was most noted for his work as a conservationist, protecting animals such as the beaver that were essential in maintaining the forests and landscapes in Ontario. Evidence of his work as a conservationist still remains today in Canada. This video also showcases the beauty of the boreal land in Temagami, Ontario, a place I was fortunate enough to experience on our canoe trip in August 2015. Itching to go back.