Book Review: The Lonely Land by Sigurd Olson

Despite enjoying all the books I have read so far, I was looking for one that was less based around disaster and survival, but more about thriving in the wild. I certainly got this in The Lonely Land. It got rave reviews on Good Reads so I gave it a go. It did not disappoint.

The Lonely Land follows Sigurd Olson, a renowned woodsman of his time (book was written in 1961) and 5 of his friends (who all have equally impressive Outdoorsy CV’s) along on their 500 mile paddle down the Churchill River in Northern Saskatchewan. They follow the waterways of Voyageurs, old Hudson Bay Traders and adventurers alike.

It very much tells two stories, one of Olson and his friends and the others of those traders that paddled along the same stretch over the last 200 years. Each chapter opened up with a quote from the diary of one of these trader or adventurer, each one relating to the same part of the river which said chapter was going to cover.


For me, there was a real child like sense of adventure. It was somewhat like reading an adult version of Enid Blyton’s Famous 5 or Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransom. Despite torrential rain and gale force winds Olson captured the romance of long adventures with the troubles of navigating the rapids, ‘encounters’ with “Indians” and the sneaky rum tipples in camp. All of this romance shone through because although this group were very much experts, the focus of the book was purely on the excitement of adventure; going down rapids, cooking in camp and being with your friends. This stands out even more so when you the men that feature in this book are all in their 60’s! Boys will be Boys.

This brought back great memories of my trip on the Bowron lakes in 2016 and I could relate to their adventure albeit far longer than any of mine. I highly recommend The Lonely Land to anyone who has ever been on a canoe trip or is planning one just to whet their appetite for what may lay ahead

We are giving this a resounding 5 Trees

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