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Bound for the Barrens:
Journal of the Ernest Oberholtzer & Billy Magee 2,000-mile Canoe Voyage to Hudson Bay in 1912

Paperback book: $19.95

Hard cover book: $27.95

Both are available through

One hundred years ago, Ernest Oberholtzer and Billy Magee, in one canoe paddled an unbelievable 2,000 miles in one short season-- from late June to early November. They returned not only in good health but bringing with them six journals full of Ober's notes from the venture and about 150 photographs.

Now you can read Ober's day-by-day journals of that epic canoe journey. Our new book is entitled BOUND FOR THE BARRENS, edited by Jean Sanford Replinger with Nancy Paddock. Bound for the Barrens brings you 268 pages of excellent reading including those journals themselves-- more of Ober's writing than you have yet found in any one place. This book also publishes dozens of Ober's photographs plus excellent footnotes and afterword material to expand upon the story.

Toward Magnetic North

Photo art book of Ober & Billy's 1912 canoe trip route to Hudson Bay, photos by Ernest Oberholtzer.


By: Ernest Carl Oberholtzer

Format: cloth, 128 pages, 12.5 x 9.5, 80 b&w photos, map

Publisher: MHS Press

ISBN 0-87351-623-0

$49.95 USD

In the summer and fall of 1912, a short, slight Iowan with a bad heart and an experienced Ojibwe canoeman carried out what Canadian historian R. H. Cockburn has called “one of the most commendable canoe voyages in history.” In this era before the Kevlar canoe, easy radio communication, the GPS, and the rescue helicopter, Ernest Carl Oberholtzer and Billy Magee traveled alone and unsupported in their 18-foot Chestnut Guide Special across wild, unpopulated, and largely unmapped territory, from Le Pas, Manitoba, to Nueltin Lake and Hudson Bay, completing their historic trip on November 5 after a freezing paddle through snow storms down the length of Lake Winnipeg.

In the hundred and forty-four days of this epic 2,000-mile journey, Oberholtzer recorded landscapes, people, and vanishing life ways in maps, a journal, and astonishing black and white photographs, using a six-pound Graflex camera.

Seventy of the photographs from this journey, with brief accompanying excerpts from Ober's journal, have been reproduced in Toward Magnetic North: The Oberholtzer-Magee 1912 Canoe Journey to Hudson Bay, a “coffee table” book that is also a historical document of a lost time and place.

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Keeper of the Wild:
The Life of Ernest Oberholtzer

The first-ever biography of wilderness preservationist Ernest Oberholtzer, environmental pioneer, explorer, and caretaker of Minnesota and Ontario's boundary waters region.


By: Joe Paddock

Format: cloth, 342 pages, 50 b&w photos, 2 maps, notes, index

Publisher: MHS Press

ISBN 0-87351-409-2

$27.95 USD

Until recently, Ernest Oberholtzer (1884–1977), one of the great heroes of the American conservation movement, has remained unsung. A friend and contemporary of both Aldo Leopold and Sigurd Olson, and one of the founders of The Wilderness Society, “Ober” was the central figure in the early struggle to preserve the last great wilderness east of the Rockies—the Quetico-Superior region of northern Minnesota and southern Ontario. Keeper of the Wild documents and explores the life of the man who first led the fight to save the area that eventually became Voyageurs National Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (today the most visited wilderness area in the United States), and Quetico Provincial Park.

Drawing on a lifetime of notebooks, letters, and speeches, as well as interviews with the people who knew him best, Paddock maps Ober's transformation from a daring young outdoorsman and adventurer to an equally fierce defender of our country's disappearing wilderness areas.

Innovative and insightful, Joe Paddock's biography allows Ober, a renowned storyteller, to tell of his own life through carefully selected journal entries and excerpts from oral history interviews. The result is a stunning collaboration full of Ober's wisdom and Paddock's deep research that resurrects the vision and the legend of Ernest Oberholtzer.

Author Joe Paddock is a poet, oral historian, and environmental writer. A founding member of the Land Stewardship Project, he is the principal author of Soil and Survival: Land Stewardship and the Future of American Agriculture. His poetry collections are Handful of Thunder: A Prairie Cycle, Earth Tongues, and Boars' Dance.

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Mallard Island Living Lightly

A small 5x8 handbook meant to introduce people to Mallard Island and our buildings, facilities, collections, and island philosophy.

By: Diane Crawford Tessari, Mary Swalla Holmes, Elaine Thrune, and Beth Waterhouse

Price: $5.00 USD + $2 Shipping

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The Old Way North:
Following the Oberholtzer-Magee Expedition

An exploration of the Oberholtzer-Magee expedition and the hidden history—both natural and human—of this vast and beautiful wilderness.


By: David Pelly

Format: cloth, 224 pages, 6 x 9, b&w photos, 1 map

Publisher: MHS Press

ISBN 0-87351-616-8

$27.95 USD

In the spring of 1912, Anishinaabe guide Billy Magee received a letter from future conservationist Ernest Oberholtzer asking Magee to accompany him on a journey. Soon after the two set off on a five-month canoe expedition following the old way north, a largely unmapped territory that would test both their endurance and their friendship.

Tracing the route of the Oberholtzer-Magee expedition, The Old Way North transports readers through the history of this challenging wilderness and introduces them to the mapmakers, fur traders and trappers, missionaries, and Native peoples who relied on this corridor for trade and travel. Through Oberholtzer’s journals along with historical records, personal interviews with Dene and Inuit, and present-day canoeing accounts, wilderness and conservation writer David Pelly reconstructs the many tales hidden in this land.

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This Northern Nonsense:
Ernest Oberholtzer and Mallard Island

With these poems, I hope to get some of those words out, words not only from Ober but also from me—a tree-hugging wilderness lover who has canoed the boundary waters region for more than 30 years and whose enthusiasm for language, writing, teaching, and life knows no boundaries.
—Stephen Wilbers


Poems by: Stephen Wilbers

Format: paperback, 36 pages

Publisher: Red Dragonfly Press

ISBN 978-1-890193-15-7

$10.00 USD


To Joe Paddock, Jean Replinger, and Beth Waterhouse, with thanks for introducing me to Mallard Island.

To Ernest Oberholtzer, who cherished the natural world and felt a special kinship with its native inhabitants.

And to my readers, whether you already know Ober’s story or are curious to learn about this remarkable person, a gentle man who was, and is, loved by many (including some, like me, who never met him).

Ober cherished the natural world and felt a special kinship with its native inhabitants. A little man possessed of the courage to defeat an industrial giant, he devoted a major portion of his life to protecting the U.S.–Canadian boundary waters region, the Rainy Lake watershed, a place of "unsurpassed beauty," from those who would plunder and transform it.

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Ober and His Rainy Lake World:
scans from the Rainy Lake Chronicle 1973-1982


Edited by Jean Replinger, Charlene Erickson, and Barbara Garner

$25.00 USD

The Rainy Lake Chronicle weekly newspaper, for nine years edited by Ted Hall in Ranier, MN, was a treasure trove of historical information. Three women: Jean Replinger, Charlene Erickson, and Barbara Garner decided to scan selected articles and stories that had to do with Ernest Oberholtzer and his world on Rainy Lake -- essentially the community and place that supported him. Whole pages were scanned in order to maintain ad copy and other photos, headings, and sketches. The compilation is in 8 1/2 by 11-inch format and 243 pages. Editors have included valuable series of articles which Ted or others wrote about Ober's life. Price: $25.00

Dedication: To Charlene Erickson (an excerpt) "Erickson's Bald Rock Dock is the 'mainland gateway' to Mallard Island. Because of Charlene (and her husband, Loren while he lived) it has had a special character of its own. With a graciousness that knows no bounds, Charlene offers Island visitors quiet delight, humor, and an ever-ready array of help and advice... Charlene has been an unsung treasure to many in the Mallard family."

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