Book Review Quetico Provincial Park: An Illustrated History

queticoAn historical chronology, and a treasure trove
of photographs and anecdotes about the
“family”of those who were passionate about
the park, Shirley Peruniak documents the
1700s, when French and British explorers and
fur traders first came into contact with the
Ojibwe people, through the rise of lumber
barons and gold mining in the late 1800s. She
continues into the 20th century, detailing the
era when Quetico Provincial Park came into
being (1913) and the 1960s and 1970s, when
tourists began visiting in significant numbers
and debates raged over how and to what
extent to protect the wilderness within it.
She writes: “In the late 60s and early 70s,
Quetico would become the flashpoint for a
province-wide debate: What is the purpose of a
park? What should it be? Is it a reserve of
resources, to be used if necessary? Or is a park
a preserve, to be untouched in any way?
Is resource use compatible with wilderness?”
Sprinkled throughout the book are amusing
and intimate stories about the individuals
and families who created the park’s human
history – Native Americans, park staff, families
who lived off the land and even people like
American pilot/poacher C.R. “Dusty” Rhodes,
who allegedly “bombed” the game warden’s
headquarters with skinned beaver carcasses
one winter during the 1920s.
Peruniak sheds light on many of Quetico’s
biggest issues over the years, such as wildfire
control, the tension between Native American
rights and conservation policy, and the fact that
Americans knew about and have always used
the park to a much greater extent than
Canadians. For most Ontario residents, the park
is remote, even after construction of the
Atikokan Highway in the 1950s.
Editor’s note: The book Quetico Provincial Park:
An Illustrated History is available through the
Friends of Quetico Park for $34.95 Canadian,
plus shipping and handling. The organization
accepts mail orders accompanied by a check or
a credit card number with expiration date.
The Friends can be reached at:
Box 1959, Atikokan
ON P0T 1C0, Canada
Phone: 807-929-2571, ext. 229
(May through September)
Phone: 807-929-9998 (October through April)
E-mail: friendsofquetico@nwon.com
The book is sold at park entry stations in the
Friends of Quetico Park shops, and in the organization’s
store at the Prairie Portage entrypoint. In addition, it is available through The Boundary Waters Journal and Piragis Northwoods Company, both in Ely.

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