As a young Canadian boy in the late 1960’s with an interest in the outdoors, boats and such, I recall watching with interest on more than one occasion a film by William (Bill) Mason, called “Paddle To The Sea”.
For those of you wondering who is Bill Mason? He was an award-winning Canadian naturalist, author, artist, filmmaker, and conservationist. He is best remembered for his work about canoeing and his work with wolves. Mason passed away in 1988 but he left behind a legacy of popular canoeing books, films, and art as well as his documentaries on wolves.
As a filmmaker, Mason created a short film called “Paddle To The Sea” based on a book of the same name, written by Holling C. Holling in 1941.
The film was nominated for an Academy Award and the book itself was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1942. It won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1962.
The book by Holling Clancy Holling and the film directed by Mason, tell the story of a tiny canoe carved by an Indian boy who leaves the carving on a frozen stream to await the coming Spring thaw. The film follows the adventures of the canoe and it’s lone occupant on it’s journey from Lake Superior to the ocean.
Along the way the little canoeist passes through wilderness, and encounters ice, rough seas, fishing nets, frieghters, even Niagra Falls. There is a great scene toward the end of the film featuring a young boy and a dog.
It’s funny how some things make such an impression that they stick with you forever while other things come and go. I seldom see a stick floating in the lake without thinking of this film.
Do you think that somewhere in the world, the little guy in his canoe is still paddling, exploring new lakes, rivers and oceans? I like to think he is…
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