Thursday, April 29, 2010


For my birthday this year Zoe gave me the small forest axe from Gränsfors Bruks. Gränsfors Bruks is located in Bergsjö, Sweden and is committed to producing the finest axes and cutting tools with as little impact on the environment as possible. Every axe head is forged from a quality piece of steel by a skilled blacksmith in the old style. There are no mass production lines here just the craftsmen, a 1200 degree C oven and a forge. Each axe head is branded with the Gränsfors Bruks label and crown as well as the blacksmiths own initials. The small forest axe is a great axe that is perfectly balanced and very sharp. From the manufacturer it is sharp enough to shave with but it could use a bit of extra work to make it scary sharp. On a students budget, I can't afford a set of Japanese water stones, so I'll have to make due with a leather strop. I've decided to make my own from a piece of pine I had laying around the shop and and old leather belt. With the addition of some polishing compound I should be able to achieve a very sharp blade not only on the axe but all of my other hunting and fishing knives. In the photo the white polishing compound is has a medium abrasive and the rouge is finer.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Water Walker - Bill Mason

In his final film, Water Walker, Bill Mason takes us on journey along the north shore of Lake Superior and tells the tale of his great passion and love for the region. He considered this film his masterpiece and this comes across in his video footage as well as the dialogue. Bill Mason is probably the most influential and charismatic character in Canadian canoeing culture, you can learn more about Bill at

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I'm free at last!

I just finished my last final exam and can now have my life back! For those that do not know, I've quit my job and gone back to school. I am attending the U of S, majoring in Geology.

Now I can get on with some of the projects that have been on hold for the past eight months. This is just a short list of what I've got in mind:

  1. Zoe needs a paddle so I'm going to carve her a paddled based on the Sugar Island design with a few modifications
  2. I know it's a strange time of the year to be thinking about winter persuits but I'm going to build a new pulk, 8 to 9 feet long made of the UHMW plastic. And a new harness and pole system to go with it
  3. Snowshoes, I have been using Arolites from GV they are the new style with the aluminum frames. They are a good snowshoe but they are loud. The deck material that is used crunches very loudly on top of the snow so I thought I would make a pair of old school snowshoes from wood and rawhide with updated bindings
  4. I would like to build a canoe rack in an effort to keep the lawn from dying under the boats
  5. An Ice chisel for opening holes in lake ice to gain access to drinking water while camping
Like I said this is just the short list. (very short)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Eagles of Hornby Island

Zoe and I and a couple of friends have been watching a nesting pair of Bald Eagles for the past month on Wild Earth TV, via a live web cam mounted just above the eagles nest. The eagles live on Hornby Island in the Georgia Strait off the west coast of British Columbia. It has been fascinating to watch the birds come and go from the nest, though there are long periods of time with a view of a feathery side or other part of a motionless bird. But the humdrum of sitting and incubating eggs should come to and end soon. The first of the two eggs is scheduled to hatch any day now, perhaps Sunday or Monday, then the secret life of eagle parents will get more interesting with the care of the eaglets.

Wild Earth TV is an "ecosystem" of live webcams and broadcasters that combine the benefits of community driven webcams with the high production values of a presenter led TV series. Click here to learn more about Wild Earth TV or to view the other live channels.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cesar's Bark Canoe - Bernard Gosselin

César Newashish was 67 years old when this film was made. On the Manawan Reserve north of Montreal, Cesar demonstrates the dieing art of building a birch bark canoe from only the materials that can be found in the forest. This film has not narrated but has titles in Cree, French and English. This film was produced in 1971 by Bernard Gosselin and the running time is 57 min 55 sec.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wanderings in the Fort a la corne forest

It was much too warm and sunny on Saturday afternoon to stay in the city so Zoe and I headed to the Fort a la corne forest for the afternoon. Fort a la corne provincal forest is 132,502 hectares of forested land that stretches from 40km east of Prince Albert to Nipawain Sk. We were there during the mid day and the hottest hours of the day so we didn't see too much for wildlife. We did however see a giant beaver patrolling his pond and a curious squirrel that didn't seem all that afraid of us. We also heard a ruffed grouse thumping in the distance. After a long winter it was nice to finally get out of the city even if it was just for a short time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

He lived the way so many of us only dream of......

In 1968, at the age of 51, Dick Proenneke packed up his belongings and moved to a remote area in Alaska called Twin Lakes where he spent the following 30 years living with the land. Alone, Dick filmed and documented his experiences living from the land, building a cabin from the surrounding forest. In his films Alone in the Wilderness, The Frozen North and Alaska Silence and Solitude, Dick gives a no nonsense account of life in the Alaskan interior and demonstrates a great deal of practical knowledge traditional methods and resourcefulness relating to life in the north. He fashions everything that he needs on site with only hand tools, a log cabin built with only an axe, handsaw and a homemade wooden mallet, he also builds a furniture, bowls and buckets, a kick slay and snowshoes. Here is a short clip from his film, Alone in the Wilderness that I found on youtube.

Alone in the Wilderness