The Cabin | Hap Wilson

I’ve entrusted my life to Hap Wilson in the past: I’ve followed his maps through the backcountry of Temagami, and down the Missinaibi River. I have learned to respect his accurate map making and rapid-sketching skills. When I heard that he had written a memoir of the Temagami wilderness, I thought it would be well worth reading.

I have mixed feelings about the book. In the first place, Wilson is an excellent writer with a better-than-average vocabulary. He knows just how to hook you at the beginning of the chapter and to keep you enthralled to the end. I read this rather short book one chapter at a time to savour his craft. I also loved how his descriptive skills put me right back into the park where I have paddled in the past.

That said, it was frustrating to endure his attitude at times. The hyperbole in describing how difficult the country is was overwhelming. I’ve paddled much of the park, and have found it difficult but not unendurable. Aside from that, the most frustrating thing was Hap’s sense of entitlement. In one chapter, he describes his anger at the government who burned down his illegally constructed cabin—while he, as a park ranger, burns down the structures of other squatters.

This issue came to a point for me when I read his comments on organized religion:

I had lost faith in organized religion because of the hypocrisy of its flock and the audacity of its tenets in the face of Nature.

One could lose faith in the environmental movement for the same reason.

(Thanks to my sister, Kathy, for this Christmas gift.)

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