Front cover

Fire In The Bones - Bill Mason and the Canadian Canoeing Tradition

Authored by James Raffan
Edited by Phyllis Bruce
Published by Harper Collins
288 p, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4, 12 b&w photos

Last update = 2 April, 1996.

The following note is taken from the Harper Collins magalog, January to April, 1996, with permission from Harper Collins.

A man for all seasons -- the life of the legendary canoeist, filmaker and painter.

Bill Mason danced with his beloved Prospector canoe the night his son Paul was married. The next day he canoed whitewater on the Petite Nation River north of Ottawa with wedding guests. On the following Tuesday, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and died four months later, at age 59.

Today, seven years later, the legend of Bill Mason continues to wind its way through the hearts and minds of canoeists, wilderness lovers, and all those touched by his remarkable spirit.

In this moving and insightful biography, James Raffan reveals both the public and private lives of Bill Mason. His expertise as a canoeist was unparalleled; his instructional guides, Path of the Paddle and Song of the Paddle, became bestselling bibles for outdoor enthusiasts; his films, including Paddle to the Sea and Cry of the Wild, which, when it opened in New York City, made five million dollars in its first week, were showcases for his creativity; his landscape paintings (refer to Bill Mason's last book Canoescapes) glow with the spiritual love of the outdoors. Yet behind the success was a person who struggled with physical disability and serious illness all his life.

James Raffan's intimate knowledge of Bill Mason as a friend and fellow paddler, a man who could not contain his passion for canoeing and the outdoors, makes Fire In The Bones a marvelous read. Raffan tells of wild canoe trips, of film shoots full of fireworks between a cantankerous Mason and his crew, and of the "oldest grey-haired teenager in the land" who regularly paddled with other ardent canoeists, including neighbor Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Entertaining and inspirational, Fire In The Bones is an important new biography that places Bill Mason within a uniquely Canadian artistic and wilderness tradition.

James Raffan is a professor of outdoor and experiential education at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and the editor of Wild Waters, coeditor of Canexus: The Canoe in Canadian Culture and the author of Summer North of 60. An accomplished writer and canoeist, he is well-known as a speaker on canoeing and conservation issues.