My visual is a map of the river that we took when we went on a canoeing trip from Lumsden to Craven in elementary school. We canoed for 8 hours straight to get to Craven from the river just beside our school in Lumsden. My visual shows two routes to get from one town to the other. The “easy” route is to take the highway. This route is way shorter than the river route which is labeled the “hard” route. The easy route requires no connection to the environment for you to take it. It is a very convenient route and also one that disturbs nature. The hard route on the other hand, brings you closer to nature and this so called idea of “wilderness”. The hard route can contain complications when taking it, making it a more realistic depiction of what it means to be in the wilderness.
It was an adventure, but it was very much following the normative narrative of wilderness. Once we got to Craven, we were to spend the next 2 nights and 3 days camping at the little campground called Craven World in tents. We had to set up our own tents and “rough it” for the next 3 days. Although, it was far from “roughing it”. We did not use nature for anything like food, shelter, or water. We had food made for us in a kitchen, we had tents to sleep in with many sleeping bags and blankets, and basically everything was provided for us. I do not recall engaging in any nature related walks or any sort of education about the land. We had no idea what the land was used for before it was a campground. We just used it in a very Western, modern way. To this day, this is something that I do not know. We did not engage with the land or anything around us in a different light other than our own, which is often the problem with canoe trips and wilderness trips in general.
Newbery’s article “Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History” offers a very interesting point that can be related to my experience at Craven World. Newbery states “canoe-tripping in wilderness spaces is not and can never be innocent or uncomplicated”. My experience can be described similar to being innocent or uncomplicated. We did not have any complications because we were in this “wilderness” space but used our western knowledge and our western way of living to be in this space. We did not have to figure out what we were going to eat or where we were going to sleep every night. We knew that someone was going to prepare our food for us and we would not have to worry about where we would sleep and how we would withstand the elements of nature as we had our tents and many supplies with us. Wilderness should be a complicated place to be. True canoe trips should offer some sort of complication to really connect one with the environment. A true connection is made when one is able to overcome adversaries using what nature offers effectively.
Kimmerer’s “Sitting in a Circle” story offers insight to how one would be able to use nature to survive a few days in the wilderness. The story outlines how the cattail marsh that was near where the students and teacher were staying could be used in many different ways to ensure they met all of their needs during their stay. This directly contradicts how my canoe trip was. Although there were probably lots of opportunities to use nature for our stay at Craven World, we did not even attempt to use anything from nature. Nature was not the overall focus of our canoe trip, looking back at it. I wish that we would have been able to analyze nature and be able to use parts of it more engaging throughout our trip.