And, They Said It Couldn't Be Done, June 26, 2008
"Eric Sevareid made his name as a CBS news correspondent. But at a young age, Sevareid experienced an adventure most only dream of. Sevareid detailed the journey in his book "Canoeing with the Cree". Now to mark the 75th anniversary of Sevareid's journey, two Minnesota men plan to make the same trip." Tim Post
In 1930 two young men paddled their way from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay in Canada. A trip of 2200 miles. Everyone told them it could not be done. Eric Sevareid, then a 17 year old, fresh graduate of high school, and his best buddy, Walter Port, planned the entire trip. They garnered financial support, collected supplies and a canoe and paddles and off they went. Five months later after trials and tribulations, they made it to Hudson Bay. Their journey is documented by Eric Sevareid, who gathered the weekly diaries he sent to their local Minneapolis paper, and in 1935, he wrote this book.
I stepped back in time to the 1930's when life seemed to be more innocent and the world a safer place to be. Sevareid who went on to become one of the most revered journalists of our time, wrote in an unpretentious manner, and we can feel the excitement of their adventures. They traversed unknown land and water. No one, it seems, had ever accomplished this trek. Even the best canoeists in the country failed. How then, did these two young lads accomplish this journey? Intelligence and good luck, I'd say. They questioned everyone they met, took upon themselves to digest all of the information and made decisions based on their best judgement. And, most of the time they were correct. They had no radio, no maps( this was uncharted country), little preserved food except for hardtack, but they had their ingenuity and the assistance of all of the people they met.
The North Country was mostly woods. Camps, small towns and two larger towns had been established for hunting and trapping. Most of the humans they met were Indians who were kind and generous. As a matter of fact, most of the people they met were in awe of their journey and shared whatever food, equipment and conversation they were capable. The trip was amazing when we look at the obstacles they faced. Water, roaring cold water, sometimes rapids, sometimes falls, no maps, only the word of mouth of strangers, and cold brutal weather at times. Or hot humid weather with flies and gnats. They discovered all sorts of wild animals but were never in real danger. They had their tent, two paddles, food, water, ponchos and several blankets. This seems like a story of new adventurers discovering a new world, and in fact this is what they were. Two 17 year old lads set out on an adventure and one day after another they found one. Extraordinary when you think about it.
Since the time of Eric and Walter, several other duos have made the trip by canoe. However, they had maps, food that could be kept for months and the best of camping equipment. This is not to lessen these young men's courage, but to think 78 years ago, this was accomplished with such primitive arrangments and care.
This was an exciting read and one page after another flew by. The book was difficult to put down. Easy, simplistic writing. but some of the most important writing I have found. The boys parents and friends did not hear from them often and at times, I am sure the parents were worried. But the two lads persevered and the trip was taken.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 06-26-08