Category Archives: Projects & Organizations

Canoe building: A life-changing experience

Canoe building: A life-changing experience

Canoe builder Ken Koscik points to a canoe hanging in the rafters and says, “We’re going to build that.” Some students shake their heads. Some don’t believe it. He reassures them: it’s easy. “I have told hundreds of people that if you can tie your shoes, you can build this canoe. And that is the truth,” he says.Continue Reading

Paddling Into the Past on Rainy Lake

Paddling Into the Past on Rainy Lake

Editor’s Note: Whenever possible, Quetico Superior Wilderness News highlights partners committed to protecting or enhancing the wilderness character of the region. The following piece is reposted with permission by the Voyageurs National Park Association. by Eric Grunwald, National Park Service It was a calm and warm mid-September day when my friend Jeff and I put…

Sawbill Canoe Outfitters: The family behind the legacy

Sawbill Canoe Outfitters: The family behind the legacy

There is an outfitter at the end of the Sawbill Trail where customers and staff return year after year, a network of people connected to the place and the family at its center. The Hansens, and now the Shirleys, have been running Sawbill Canoe Outfitters since 1957, where annual traditions, lifelong friendships and marriages have been born.
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New Water Trail Benefits from Collaborative Cross-Border Partnership

New Water Trail Benefits from Collaborative Cross-Border Partnership

This summer, Ontario Provincial Park wardens, the Gunflint Ranger District of the Superior National Forest and members of the Northwoods Volunteer Connection came together to work on a water trail that runs from Kenora to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Called the Path of the Paddle, it’s part of a larger effort to connect three oceans…
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Morning Light – A Canoe Built by Campers at Ogiche Daa Kwe

Morning Light – A Canoe Built by Campers at Ogiche Daa Kwe

There is something delicate about the look of a skin-on frame canoe. In the sunlight, the wooden frame shows through its skin, as do the shadows of paddlers. Looking down into the boat, the line where water meets air is visible. Yet it is a seaworthy craft, light enough for the youngest and oldest of paddlers to carry, and, at girls’ wilderness camp Ogiche Daa Kwe, a perfect metaphor for community. Last summer, campers and staff at the Rainy Lake camp built a 17.5-foot wilderness traveler skin-on frame canoe. Continue Reading

Three Decades of Superior Hiking

Three Decades of Superior Hiking

This summer, thirty years after a pair of trailbuilders first started flagging a hiking route along the ridges overlooking Lake Superior on Minnesota’s North Shore, the Superior Hiking Trail will be finished—mostly. The final section of the trail, connecting it to the Wisconsin border southeast of Duluth, should be completed by Labor Day. Hikers will then be able to travel from that point all the way to the Canadian border on the trail that has been called one of the best in America. But the work is never done. Hundreds of volunteers will continue to put in thousands of hours each year keeping the trail in good condition.Continue Reading

What will it take to get you outdoors?

What will it take to get you outdoors?

In a recent article for the Star Tribune, writer Tori McCormick sums it up: “What will it take to get you outdoors and into nature? Can you be persuaded, either through a special event or an engaging social-media campaign, to visit a state or national park or hike a trail at a national wildlife refuge?…

Wild Minds: Scientists Study the Boundary Waters Brain

Wild Minds: Scientists Study the Boundary Waters Brain

by Greg Seitz Does your brain work better in the Boundary Waters? Paddlers have been pondering the profound psychological shifts that take place in the wilderness for as long as humans have been seeking refuge there from the hectic modern world. Now, a researcher from Nebraska has shown that creativity and other cognitive abilities skyrocket…

Creating a Legacy: The Quetico Superior Foundation Grant Program

At the Quetico Superior Foundation (QSF), our mission is to protect the wilderness character of Minnesota’s Border Lakes Canoe Country and Ontario’s Quetico region. We do that through the publication of Wilderness News and by giving grants to non-profit organizations that share our mission. We know that leaving a lasting legacy is better done through…

YMCA Camp du Nord: The Family That Goes to Camp Together, Stays Together

YMCA Camp du Nord: The Family That Goes to Camp Together, Stays Together

All summer long, families stream to the North Arm of Burntside Lake, outside Ely, for a week at camp. There, for the past 54 years, YMCA Camp du Nord has provided opportunities to learn about nature, do arts and crafts, play silly games, acquire skills to explore the wilderness, and have profound shared experiences. The…

Sigurd Olson’s Legacy Returns Home

Sigurd Olson’s Legacy Returns Home

By Greg Seitz The soul of Sigurd and Elizabeth Olson lives on at their home in Ely. The soul smells of fresh-baked cookies in the kitchen. In the writing shack on the property, it smells of cedar. It sounds like a breeze rustling the tall red pines Sig planted as seedlings, of croaking ravens and…

Northern Lakes Canoe Base

Northern Lakes Canoe Base

By Alissa Johnson Picture the Girl Scouts, and it’s likely that young girls selling cookies come to mind. And while that can be part of the experience, Northern Lakes Canoe Base is offering up a very different image of what it can mean to be a Girl Scout: girls working together to meet the challenges…

Laketrails Base Camp

Laketrails Base Camp

By Alissa Johnson When Laketrails campers arrive at base camp, costumed counselors greet them, singing and dancing, hooting and hollering, and banging on drums. “We’re famous for our welcomes of campers,” says executive director Sue Lemm. And it’s easy to imagine what a sight it must be, especially after the journey to get to Laketrails—simply…

Paddle to D.C. Ely Adventurers’ Latest Expedition Carries Concerns About Mining

Paddle to D.C. Ely Adventurers’ Latest Expedition Carries Concerns About Mining

This epic expedition was inspired by what the Freemans see as an existential threat to a national treasure: mining. “The Boundary Waters is our nation’s most popular wilderness area, it receives a quarter million visitors per year. Every year I guide people in the Boundary Waters from Texas and California and all across the country. We need to make sure people all across the country understand how special the Boundary Waters is and understand the threats it faces.Continue Reading

Fostering Growth and Sparking Curiosity in Youth

Fostering Growth and Sparking Curiosity in Youth

By Adam Maxwell During the summer of 2013, I spent my time leading wilderness trips for Camp Lincoln in Brainerd, Minnesota. Camp Lincoln is one of the oldest traditional summer camps in Minnesota. It hosts over four hundred campers each season, with campers generally staying at camp for a four week session. Some of the…

YMCA Camp Widjiwagan: Generations of Exploration

YMCA Camp Widjiwagan: Generations of Exploration

On the pine-covered shores of Burntside Lake’s North Arm twenty miles northeast of Ely, Camp Widjiwagan has been a launching point for teenagers to explore wilderness since 1929. Today, some families are sending their fourth generation of campers to Widji, where the fundamental experience hasn’t changed much since their grandparents’ days. The camp still uses…

North House Folk School’s Instructor-in-Residence Program

The North House Folk School is a school of traditional craft—students can learn everything from knitting or making soap to boat building or timber framing. Located on the edge of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Executive Director Greg Wright explains that it’s all about telling a story. “We teach to tell the story of the…

Meet Erik Simula, Birch Bark Canoe Builder

  By Alissa Johnson For twenty years, Erik Simula has lived almost exclusively off the grid near the Minnesota and Canadian border. He hasn’t had a refrigerator or a freezer, and bringing home the groceries has meant using a team of sled dogs to haul them over snow. “For most of my life, I could…

Eye to the Skies – the Raptor Migration is On

The Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth held their annual Hawk Weekend Festival last weekend, and the results of their daily bird counts are coming in. The migration begins in mid-August with American kestrels, sharp-shinned hawks and broad-winged hawks, and continues into December with red-tailed and rough-legged hawks, northern goshawks and eagles. Peak migration at…

Camp Manito-wish—Where Kids Try it, Change it, and Try Again

Camp Manito-wish—Where Kids Try it, Change it, and Try Again

By Alissa Johnson When a group of campers from Camp Manito-wish YMCA approaches its first campsite in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Quetico Provincial Park, the counselors ask the group to pause on the water. They’ll float in their canoes and talk through everything that’s going to happen on land: how they’ll unload…

Northern Tier High Adventure Program

Steeped in 90 years of canoeing tradition By Alissa Johnson During the summer of 2012, the Northern Tier High Adventure Program helped 755 crews, most of them Boy Scouts, explore the wilderness of northern Minnesota and Canada. That’s 6,012 people starting and ending canoe trips at one of three base camps, and connecting with the…

Northern Tier: More Than Just a Canoeing Trip

Northern Tier: More Than Just a Canoeing Trip

By Greg Stringfellow Every summer since I turned 14 my Dad and I have gone on a High Adventure trip. These trips have taken us across the United States and Europe, and thanks to my trip to Northern Tier in 2012, I added Canada to that list.  We’d been planning a trip to Northern Tier…

Warming Water and Invasive Species Changing the Character of Quetico-Superior Lakes

The Lake Superior summer water temperatures are increasing more rapidly than regional air temperatures.  According to an article in the Ely Timberjay, the surface water temperatures of Lake Superior increased approximately 6 degrees F between 1979 and 2006. This is significantly greater than regional atmospheric warming. How this change will impact biodiversity and the proliferation…

The Heart Of the Continent Partnership Meets February 8-9 in Duluth

The next quarterly meeting of the Heart Of the Continent Partnership will be held February 7-8, 2013 at the Clyde Iron Works in Duluth, MN. The Heart of the Continent Partnership is a Canadian/American coalition of land managers and local stakeholders working together on cross-border projects that promote the economic, cultural and natural health of the lakes,…

Breaking Ground at the Bear Center

The North American Bear Center in Ely, MN, broke ground this week on its facility expansion. The project will double the size of the facility, which facilitates research, education and public exhibits. The center has raised nearly $560,000 of its $1 million goal–you can track progress and give a donation of your own on their…

Trust for Public Land: Protecting Gaul Island

Trust for Public Land: Protecting Gaul Island

How a collaborative effort is transferring private land to public stewardship. By Alissa Johnson In the summer of 2010, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) received an inquiry from the Listening Point Foundation. The owners of a 15-acre island across from Listening Point had notified the Foundation that they intended to sell their property. Gaul…

YMCA Camp Warren Turns 85

YMCA Camp Warren Turns 85

About two hours north of the Twin Cities, YMCA Camp Warren sits on Half Moon Lake near Eveleth, Minnesota. Once a summer home for the Warren Family, the land is now a second home to 85 years worth of summer campers. The Warren Family’s 1880s New England style lodge—affectionately called Homaji—is now the cornerstone of…

Working Together to Protect Wilderness

Working Together to Protect Wilderness

The Summer Issue of Wilderness News is in the mail and now online. The theme is Working Together to Protect Wilderness — check out a few highlights below.   Download a PDF here > Sign Up to Subscribe to print edition or email > What’s Inside: Voices for the North Country Readers respond to Wilderness News Read…

The Wilderness Canvas: YMCA Camp Menogyn

The Wilderness Canvas: YMCA Camp Menogyn

By Fred Sproat Wilderness is many different things to many different people; it can be a grocery store or a sanctuary, a playground or a classroom. It can be all of the above or something completely different. I have made the canoe country wilderness my office by turning passion into profession and working as a…

Heart of the Continent Seeks Communities

The Heart of the Continent Partnership, an association of land managers, researchers, government officials, and local stakeholders, is seeking to add representatives of the region’s communities to its collaborative effort.Continue Reading

Protecting a Scenic Entrance to the BWCAW

Protecting a Scenic Entrance to the BWCAW

Fall Lake Property on the Edge of the Boundary Waters to be Protected An 11-acre parcel of land on Fall Lake outside of Ely, Minnesota, will be protected thanks to the joint efforts of the landowners, the Forest Service and the Trust for Public Land (TPL). Located just across the lake from a Forest Service…

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Last spring, the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness welcomed new director Paul Danicic. Paul recently shared his thoughts on the state of the wilderness and the Friends’ role in protecting it with Wilderness News contributor Alissa Johnson. Originally published in part in the Summer 2009 issue of Wilderness News, read the full interview here.Continue Reading

Update: Namakan River Dam Project

The Spring 2008 issue of Wilderness News covered a proposed dam at High Falls on the Namakan River west of Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario. A project with environmental impacts on both sides of the border, the Ojibway Power and Energy Group (OPEG) is preparing to release its Environmental Assessment as part of a proponent-led approval process.Continue Reading

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