flying duck logo Store – CDs/DVDs

Ode to Ober

A CD of delightful music and verse, composed by musicians about experiences inspired by their Mallard Island times.

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A Week on Ober's Island

A DVD of photographs by Mark Stanley put together to the theme "Ode to Ober" This is a walk through the island on a beautiful summer week in 2006 set to music without narration.

Length: 5 minutes 35 seconds

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Ober's Island: A Living Legacy

A DVD of the John Ruebartsch and Dena Aronson film.

Length: 35 minutes

Ober’s Island: A Living Legacy
Review by Beth Waterhouse
Executive Director, E.C. Oberholtzer Foundation

Ruebartsch and Aronson, Milwaukee film-makers, capture the essence of a place called Mallard Island in Rainy Lake near the Canadian border of Minnesota. In so doing, they tell much of the story of the life and explorations of Ernest C. Oberholtzer, who lived on Mallard for forty years and who based his career in wilderness advocacy there.

The film opens on a music week held on Mallard in the beauty of the summertime sparkling green/blues of Rainy Lake. You come to understand, quickly, that this is no common place, and that the people who choose to come here in small groups are willing to dive deeply into their creative centers as they work on a new composition. In other weeks, that diving may be into a book manuscript, a love of nature photography, or a painting in progress.

It is all about Ober and yet beyond Ober—this man who dedicated himself to preservation of the wild and who did so from his values of caring for the indigenous Ojibwe people in his region. The Ojibwe, descendants of Ober’s friends and canoe partners, have a clear voice in this film and describe their need to protect and learn their language as well as their need to return to Ober’s homeplace every now and again. 

The story goes back in time to re-trace Oberholtzer’s David and Goliath struggle with industrialist Edward Wellington Backus. It also traces his 1912 epic canoe journey of some 2,000 miles, with guide and Ojibwe friend Billy Magee. It returns, seamlessly, to the music week and to the motivations behind modern-day visits to the Mallard.

We hear voices and see faces of those who knew Ober and who have written of his life or carried forward his wishes. One is left not only with amazement for the life of this one man, but with appreciation for the hard work that has upheld a legacy, work that has stretched that legacy and that asks today’s environmental questions in light of its now almost one hundred years of commitment.

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