when you’re making a big journey in the wilderness particularly in a boat like this you have to go light with limited supplies and resources because of that self-reliance and the skills of push craft go hand in hand with canoe this is the missin Ivy River in Canada today it’s a majestic wilderness River in one of my favorite of all environments but 300 years ago it was an arterial trade route that helped fuel the fur trade and put the country of Canada on the world map Canada is a land of water the century as the canoe was the only way to get around and for me it’s still the best way to see the wilderness with the canoe more than anything it’s the journey not the destination of madness I just think it’s fantastic to come out into place as wild as this there’s so much interesting wildlife to be had here but they’re also the occasional opportunity to surprise the cameraman turn this occasion has to face towards me you can’t see behind and I just turn the boat around there’s a moose fantastic I’ve always wanted to paddle the great fur trade rivers in such unspoiled surroundings it’s easy to picture the mission ID as it was then from the dense forested banks to the lodges of the beaver whose pelts drove the trade 300 years ago huge canoes would have plowed up and down this river taking goods to the far flung trappers in the north and returning with the valuable furs before the winter freeze stories of the men who paddled those canoes have always fascinated me and none more so than those of the voyagers the hardiest of them all the banks of this river would have rung to the sound of their songs sung to the rhythm of their paddles to take their minds off the distances still to go in the spirit of the voyagers I was paddling an old-style traditional canoe a cedar and canvas prospector the natural materials seemed to suit this place everything felt right from the grain of the cedar down to the sound of the water lapping against the bowel but a boat like this must be treated carefully in serious whitewater this is like paddling an eggshell in comparison to a modern plastic bag on a good days paddling I expect to cover many miles but the fur traders will always start their journeys with a short day they would make camp only a few miles into their journey that way they would have the opportunity to use most of the kit they’d be taken with them if anything was missing it wouldn’t be too far to go back and get it it was known as the Hudson’s Bay stunt it’s a practice I employ too but before I look for a campsite I had a small wrapper to negotiate the rivers picking up speed here I love that it’s the rapids that provide the excitement on the journey like this but this wasn’t whitewater rafting these canoes are open and you need to treat even minor rapids with respect fantastic there’s no stopping halfway down

whatever happens that’s why it’s essential to carry a spare panel with the rapid safely negotiated it was time to look for a camps on it I made sure I was off the river long before dark that way I had plenty of time and daylight to iron out any snacks I’ve brought traditional canvas kit bags in a large traditional tent for Baker tent the more you immerse yourself in your surroundings the more you get out of a journey like this this may not look like the simplest temp to erect but it was more in keeping with the spirit of my journey this is where the tent really scores it doubles as your tarp fantastic piece of kit giving you not only a sleeping space but a living space if the weather’s bad the voyagers wouldn’t have had such luxuries space and weight were at a premium reserved solely for cargo so they would often improvise a shelter each night by propping their huge canoes on the side then lighting a fire to keep warm and drive the insects away fire lighting is always important in the wilderness but perhaps nowhere more so than when you’re canoeing the water here is cold you can capsize your equipment can be swept away you could find yourself gets stranded on the verge of hypothermia it’s very important that on your person on your body you carry the means to make fire and in this environment that means a knife and a device for creating sparks because that’s the most reliable when it’s wet doesn’t matter if I soak this it would still give me fire and here this part of the river there’s plenty of birch we can use the birch bark to start our fire we just shave up some fine shavings from the bark younger layers of the dry and we strike a spark down into there which catches fire plenty of birch bark to get the fire going and then small sticks while the fire is lighting up your knife goes back where it belongs and your fire lighting equipment goes back securely fastened to your person so that you don’t put it down and lose it looking at the paintings of voyagers traveling through this land one thing is very distinctive and that is that they use the tripod to suspend their cooking pot and they may have carried with them a chain or they might have done what I’m going to show you now put your knife away always important to put your knife away I tell you especially when there are mosquitoes or biting flies around because they’re very distracting it’s very easy to cut yourself I’ve already got a scar I made that mistake many years ago what I’m going to do now is I need to make the top part of this stick flexible I’m not going to make it all flexible but I’ll explain why in a minute first thing is to twist the point is to like pop like that they’re just loosening there I’m going to use the little side branches to help me loosen that as I work my way up the stick towards the growing tip once they get up here I’m going to make like a crank and work back softening the fibers as I go like this and making it into what’s called a witty these are incredibly useful and use that they grow back so I’m not not destroying a tree I’m just removing a small part

I’m going to take that down to within about a hands breadth of this fork so they end up with a hook on the end of this stick these are the sticks that are going to form the tripod using the top of these with you that I’ve softened I’m going to form a clove hitch what I like to do then is just take that up through one of the crutches of the sticks and down just makes it a little bit more secure stops it’s slipping and there’s a tripod ready to hold the pot over the fire we want to adjust the height we adjust the spread of the legs it’s easy to romanticize the life of the Voyageurs the outdoor life singing songs as they paddled the camraderie and the massive celebrations when they return to port but they would rise before daybreak and paddle for 18 hours a day resting each hour just long enough to smoke a pipe the pace was relentless they were expected to paddle at 45 paddle strokes a minute you’re welcome pain for surely then was Ella J pause was he JJ play la poubelle c’est la vie Hong pina manique he no man is me c’est la vie home you know many on Oh beautiful beautiful day I think that the canary is a is the most magical way to to see the wilds to get close to wildlife you really are communing with nature when you travel in a canoe I really I really enjoy it I think that term it’s also great panacea for the world we live in today you know when you when you paddle a canoe you have to learn to move at the pace of the water and almost as soon as you accept that fact life becomes so much easier simply once you’re on a river like this you can really sense the forest spreading it for miles around the river is the artery that links it all together one immense natural entity looks like a dress to deal with some sort of chemical outbreak doesn’t it but actually I’m just about to walk into what’s called muskeg which is like swamp and that is a very good place to find dry firewood but of course that’s the breeding ground for these billions of insects that that populate this area during the summer months black flies and mosquitoes plague every warm-blooded creature around here in the 1950s the Canadian government carried out tests and discovered that an exposed forearm could be bitten 280 times in just one minute so my bug jacket may make things hot and sweaty but it’s an essential item of clothing it said firewood makes you warm three times first collecting it secondly shifting it and third when you burn it

gonna make a banach which is a unleavened bread which is very much the fair of canoe trips and the many ways of going about these I have a very simple recipe which is two parts of flour one part milk powder but I’m going to add in another ingredient today because I’m making a cake like Bannock I’m going to add some powdered egg unleavened breads like this bread to the don’t involve yeast very much the fair of the Canadian backwards the Voyageurs used to make something similar they called galette and there are descriptions of that containing everything from the dirt from the cook’s hands the dead flies if I was supposed to make one of those today I’m sure there’d be a few din mosquitos in there but the key ingredient all of these really is a baking powder and here in Canada they have this wonderful ingredient that magic baking powder and that’s all the basic ingredients well there is a dead mosquito in there too I think it’s only fair enough I get a child bite them back I’m going to also now add a touch of sugar I’m using brown sugar because I think it gives much better flavor for this sort of outdoor cooking and when you’re on the on the trail flavors become very important to some raisins at the end of the day’s travel you know drying yourself off getting the fire going getting a brew on or a meal cooked is actually rather nice routine of the day something you look forward to and it’s one of the nicer acts aspects of this sort of travel really don’t need this sort of bread because if you do you punch the gas out of it so it’s quite different to making a yeasted bread so I want it just round up hands hot oils good and hot push it down spread it within this pan now what happens now is that this gets tilted towards the fire and I prop a stick behind it we don’t use cooking times like cooking like this outdoors because the temperature the way the wind is blowing the amount of moisture in the air that all affects things so things that cooked when they’re done and I’ve got one last ingredient and this is a real treat rumack little tot of rum just on top of there drizzled as they say on top if you could only smell this there it is banner it’s unlucky to cut Vanek so you’re always break by look at it always takes a couple of days to settle into the journey mussels need to apply mattias to the demands of paddling and the body and mind must adapt to the river once you’ve tuned in you can paddle for weeks although I’m perfectly happy with my own company it’s always good to share an experience like this for the next few days aren’t you joined by an expert canoeist and good friend ray Goodwin Gray has paddled his way along many of the great rivers of the world and with

his experience on the water it’d be good to have him along besides he’d be able to appreciate my singing like on time for your Lydia Moselle you know man Aquino man DNA on Oh if you’ve time to comment on a song perfectly you’re gonna just distract me you’re doing it too soon I’ve seen these rocks your recon face we closed early them was a Jew very close early demos oh it’s a nice pace to of life you know you really do start to feel a part of the landscape you feel the influences don’t neither Windu I mean a lot of time I like I like to travel light and very very fast but there comes a time and I’m really gonna have to make the room to actually do trips like this where being in the place is as important as the actual destination you’re heading for absolutely c’est la vie home team anarchy no man you say love it I’m not gonna understand you just keep going oh they’ll love your little shell very nice like if that rock wasn’t there yeah cuz we could go right and come left well that’s in exactly the wrong place in there the only clear way to assess a rapid is to leave the canoes and take a look from the shore brand I could then decide on the best route through and check for any hidden dangers when you’re hundreds of miles from civilization the last thing you need is a broken canoe where Ray’s boat made bounced over the rocks one mistake here and this rapid can turn mine to match with this underwater the way clip left end of it in that plat of water and then rub the guys log through the game okay bits of rock beyond but the showers are not problem Lisa’s on the right as well yeah it seems more water here yeah okay boy dad it was great to see ray in his element his focus on the canoe was totally that was nice [Applause] lovely fantastic why waters always exhilarating it makes a nice change from the sections where you paddle slowly and you’re doing all the motoring of the boat it’s nice the way the river just picks you up and you feel I can’t take it and all of a sudden having to think three or four steps ahead wakes you up it’s great brilliant – clipped a couple of rocks in there a little bit of damage to the paddle to repair that later that was fun that was good Voyager’s would have run as many of these Rapids as possible time was of the essence and it’s far quicker and easier than carrying everything round even without cargo there’s enough to carry which is why when canoeing you must still travel light ah no song I think it’s your turn to sing

no go on most those that know me wouldn’t even dream of hearing me sing oh just as well have very much so thing about this section that I like is we keep getting little Rapids little riffles to push us along too much of the flat stuff and you have to start working I don’t mind it because while I enjoy the whitewater stuff that’s not what the canoe means to me I think of the canoe as a vehicle as a means to get me here to see the other things really these these riverbanks here you have all these plants this is a habitat as virtually missing in Britain we’ve so tied it up areas we’ve forgotten what wild rivers are like when I come to summarise it always makes me think of what we’ve lost the next day we lost the film career the amount of equipment they bring requires a small flotilla of canoes and they were starting to hinder our progress there they go from here on we just use a small camera and we’d need to be a lot more self-reliant once they get smoked try to maintain a nice even pressure lovely smell from this lighting a fire is one of the most crucial survival skills equipped with just a knife and a piece of cord perhaps just a shoelace it’s possible to do this in just a few minutes but the technique has to be learned and as with most things practice and in my case a lot of practice has made perfect now the notch is full of dust which is glowing see it’s smoking there of its own accord whoops are dropped it pick it up and add him to the tinder that we prepared I say pinched that in there I know where we go okay and of course that then we can take to our birch bark and there’s our fun rade asked me to show him how to do this and it’s not as easy as it can look oops [Applause] frustration bushcraft is all about taking your time keeping on trying and not losing your temper Ray was doing very well at all three he may have been hot and bothered but he stuck to his task okay here we go again and I teach this technique on courses I can easily tell who will succeed and who will not because more than half of it is in the mind left foot needs to be closer to the drill not quite that close no I’m just trying to get everything balanced still yeah yeah everybody feels this the first time they do just man with your left hand excellent he go Oh doing great each time gets closer for more than an hour he persevered I thought it was going there that’s the best yet I’m not gonna say anything to sir but when you get that going like

that just maintain it yeah you can invis yeah nice and gentle let me help you you roll the foreword away okay good nursing relax now Rea just relax catch your breath are you ready I’m ready pack it tight be hard on it so close to your face that’s good the harder away from your face or your drift on it that little puffer got flames I got blamed hastin we have fire absolutely fantastic just a beat well uh ha-ah one of the things I like about bushcraft is that hidden amongst all of these skills is something else and that is this this business of never giving in and I think that that’s what that’s what these things teach then it’s not just about lighting a fire on the ground it’s about lighting a fire within now that we were no longer hampered by a crew we were much less conspicuous and were rewarded almost immediately with the chance to get close to magnificent moose by using a particular paddle stroke called the Indian stroke we can move absolutely silently years ago that paddle stroke was used by local inhabitants to hunt animals today we use it to get close to them and see a canoe is the most natural way to travel so silent so serene no wonder animals accept your presence so readily memories like this stay with you forever wish I could actually see incredible are you thinking flies and doesn’t sting it’s gonna be a friend journeys like this provide the chance to observe and to learn there was evidence everywhere of one of the most famous inhabitants of Canada the beaver these animals can be quite elusive but the best time to see them is after the Sun

has set with our camp established I went a little way upriver to see if I could season beaver are amazing animals it’s hard to imagine but there was a time when they were so few beavers on these rivers because of the trapping that the Hudson’s Bay Company actually had to employ engineers to build cows and dams to keep their canoes running because the beavers had been removed who maintained the waterways the demise of the beaver continued up to the 1930s it was then that a half-breed Indian known as ground set about bringing the plight of this animal to the attention of the world Braille lived out in the wilds where he was inseparable from the beaver he was a prolific writer who captured the essence of life in the wilderness and the plants and animals that live there his book sparked imaginations all over the world one of the most popular tales of an empty cabin was typed up by a family friend called Margaret charka he read stories to us and say how does that sound and with him reading the story to you it didn’t sound the same when you read it yourself it wouldn’t have the expression in it the prose through it that you would pick up that when he would read it to you he wrote all night and slept in the daytime when the beavers did he was on their timetable he was so in tune with the beaver that he even shared the log cabin he lived in with them it was very rough and the floor of course was quite muddy because the beavers were in and out all the time and the table part of it was chewed a bit his books brought him lecture tours throughout Britain where people really bought into the romanticism of this straight-faced enigmatic Indian and his love for the wild an image he did nothing to dispel if it was a photographer or some picture he thought would be made public then he’d get that set face and stern but he wasn’t like that with us at all because I had lots of pictures of him with a good smile but he was keen to play up the Indian stereotype when he met king george v it was grail who dictated the protocol not the king he said that the king had to be seated the royal family had to be seated before he entered and then he had his grand entry you know you can’t do that he said well that’s what I’m doing and he did and then when it was over he slapped the King on the back and said I’ll be seeing you but he got away with it in fact he was getting away with far worse on his death in 1938 it was discovered that Grail had been living a lie he wasn’t an Indian at all but Archie belaney from Hastings you can imagine the uproar but to me what matters is how he lived his life and what he did for the wise he had a profound him years ahead of his time he preached the word of consolation and it fell on a receptive audience and although he wasn’t the Native American native Canadian he claimed to be Canada has never abandoned I think that that’s old credit it was a remarkable man through his his effort but only was the beaver so very much environment the beaver themselves the next day we decided to stay put it’s good to take the opportunity to clean your kit and catch up with admin running repairs on the like and it was a perfect opportunity to

involve ray and a bit more bushcraft graves see me use this saw to click firewood but this morning it’s going to take on a different meaning as the thing to take with you on a canoe trip obviously a folding saw is convenient because it’s safe and easy to transport in the canoe if you look at the stories of the great explorers who opened up Canada one of the things that you come across frequently our stories firstly people being turned over in the rapids and losing their equipment and the other of course is people breaking paddles frequently I think one of the key skills if you’re making a canoe journey is being able to replace a paddle if it gets lost or broken so the first task is to find the right wood what I really want is a piece of wood long enough to make a paddle with a straight grain absolutely straight grain and ideally rather than go into the forest and look look for a tree to take down what we look for is a piece of dead wood hung up somewhere on the side of the river this is plenty of wood around like that and really the secret here is being able to spot the results that you need for yourself that’s the one that’s caught my attention that looks nice and straight and they’re not too many knots I’m very conscious of not breaking the blade explaining that to Ray wouldn’t be so much fun a forest like this is full of useful resources particularly for food and for medicine key is learning to spot them this lichen for example here in Canada they often call this old man’s beard and this contains an acid which can be used as an anti fungicidal you can boil this up and use that to treat athlete’s foot it may a handy thing when you’ve been in canoe boots for a month how’d you get on ray ah very good question have I got a paddle or if I got firewood well I’ll give you one on sir we’ve got the right wood but I can get the smell it was the look of the thing so that I’m pleased with that now as imagined when you look sure that you saw this fault line I thought that would be good to split on but if we split there we end up with this curve in the wood okay what we want is this nice straight section here this side and I think if we split through there we will get that she goes charcoal from the fire made a useful pencil and we’re just mark now the outline from this existing paddle of course if you didn’t have one yeah you’d have to guess with me so what we’ve got now is a line that we can cut down to and it she start to shape the the handle if I cut too deep we wouldn’t have had a paddle at all and I wanted to make the shaft thicker anyway as the wood was cedar which is easy to carve but not as strong as the wood of the paddle that we used for measuring I can’t stress enough how much easier tasks like this are with the right equipment well maintained I’m quite bold the way I use the axe and I think that this is a key to good acts work is a sharp axe used with boldness this is how yeah this is our paddles were made once in the old days my own feeling you may disagree with me but I think someone’s going to paddle a canoe or a wilderness trip they shouldn’t know how to do this I I don’t because I think it’s it’s definitely a skill I would like but at the end of the day I carry a spare paddled everybody paddle wave carries a spare paddle but I

just love watching that paddle come into existence all right I think that is about done I’ve left it a bit heavy in places because it’s cedar right and it doesn’t have the strength of the of the harder woods you’ll finally seem a little bit flexible even now it’s a much more delicate wood but it is very light and I know you like a light paddle very much so want to give it a try yeah thank you for a spin gone what you reckon them what are your first impressions right it gets the feel of approval there you go very good with maestro of the paddle I like it this was a log this morning after his success with fire lighting ray wanted to give it a go too well I slept very well but Ray was up all night trying to carve a paddle and he ended up with this well got smaller and smaller so he’s promised that this is a spatula really and he’s gonna use it to make some pancakes this morning we’ll see that it’s gotta be the most labor-intensive spatula ever it’s dead dear oh dear it’s lovely morning and we’ve been paddling hard for a few days it’s nice to take some time relax a little bit of course the boys Jersey came up with these rivers who have a real romance surrounding them for them life was really hard they’d have woken up crack of dawn somebody would have shouted Sol la Sol of a time to get up and up they’d get their get under way before they even had breakfast it would be several miles down the river and then they’d have bricks was probably cooked the night before that was beginning of an 18-hour day paddling really hard life can you have to remember they weren’t just going downriver they were going up them as well quite amazing anyway this morning is pancakes very traditional canoeing fare gives you some bulk in your stomach to get the paddles moving in the morning and really looking for – hey oh dear that’s the most anemic pancake I think I’ve ever cooked you ready for this right yeah bit of butter now the test hmm nice and hot very nice but the pancakes inside us and rested from our day in camp we were both eager to get back on the water every stretch of this river has its own character and the next stage was no exception we were faced with a sequence of Rapids or bearing size and force when you’re on a journey like this there are three different ways to deal with Rapids the ones that are most fun are the ones you can run and in some ways the bigger the better this is what Ray loves the challenge of whitewater

I loved it too as we came down it was fairly straightforward all the way through and then at the end there are these three massive waves waiting to reach and one feed you a little bit right into the next one which turns you a little bit right into the next one in a rapid like this nature tests both your nerve and your skill they couldn’t resist showing off on camera by surfing the wave this takes expert balance and control I told you he’s a paddle maestro and a little bit crazy some Rapids just run out of water I could feel the bottom of my delicate canoe scraping along the rocks it was time to get out this sort of rapid requires a process called lining basically walking your candle through the shallows on a line it can be a bit awkward at times but it’s no real hardship ray could still paddle down in his modern canoe plastic bounces off the rocks a lot better than cedar and canvas but walking is a small price to pay for paddling such a beautiful canoe not very Hollywood is it Hollywood making this movie it have this boat going through the most outrageous Rapids head-on into them come down here but then we’re talking of 20 of these boats and we break them the reality on a wilderness journey is this is all there is and what you have to do is you always have to put the boat first because that’s all means for getting home you can have too little water or of course you can have too much this is split rock rapid there’s no way a canoe will go down that and of course that was one of the second design criteria of the boats first they had to be capable of carrying the loads and negotiating the rocks but secondly they had to be light enough that you could carry them past the obstacles they couldn’t navigate tying the paddles to the thwarts in this way create a really useful set of handles when carrying the canoe this is what’s known as a portage and yes it’s hard work the voyagers would have had to manhandle their huge canoes all along here some of the porters trails on these rivers are very long indeed they must have been tough then once the canoe was in the water they’d have to return for their load in addition to their own clothing each man was expected to carry six ninety pound packs two packs at a go it was time for us to set up our last camp and the end of the portage trail was as good a spot as any each journey finds its own rhythm and this was no exception I agreed to catch supper if Ray set the fire a whitefish fantastic they’re great eaten what a way to round off a wonderful trip we’d both be taking home great memories negotiating just

part of this Voyager route had been a fabulous experience after dinner it was good to have time to reflect it’s a bit spooky to be camped alongside a portage trail like this these trails are established even before the fur trade by the local Indian population moving through the forest and then of course they became the highways for the voyagers to portage there their pieces 90 pound packs past the falls I sometimes think that if you sat here quietly enough in the evening you can see the ghosts of the voyagers passed by oh boy oh boy you the last day on the river always brings mixed feelings I was a little sad to have to leave such a wonderful place but it was coupled with a true sense of satisfaction that would really be into the heart of this river but more than that when you use this sort of equipment canvas would you’ve accepted that your life in the wilderness at the 201 when it rains you’ll be a little bit done but when it stops you’ll be dry sometimes I think when we use modern equipment we try to exclude nature too much it’s almost like we’re at war with it for me that that spoils the the spell it breaks the spell of being making this journey reinforced my understanding of what the canoe means to the people of Canada for the original Indians through the fur traders right up to today people have an affinity with it it becomes part of them a feeling summed up by former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who said that what sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other traveler thousand miles by train and you are a brute pedal five hundred miles on a bicycle and you remain basically bourgeois paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature I couldn’t agree more you