Eric W. Morse

Sigurd F. Olson Canadian Geographic Churchill River (Hudson Bay)

Eric W. Morse was an author, wilderness canoe traveler and historian. He was born December 29, 1904 in India and died in Ottawa March 1986.[1]


In 1951 while at an Ottawa dinner party Eric Morse challenged the diplomats and businessmen to learn about the real Canada and get out on the land. The next year, he and a small group began taking treks in the wilderness of Canada.[2] Several of his wilderness trips were with Sigurd Olson. Morse was national director of Canadian Clubs from 1949 until 1971.[2] In 1984, he was one of four persons that year (the others including Chuck Yeager and Sally Ride) conferred Honorary Memberships in the Explorer's Club.[3] In 1977, Canadian Geographic magazine published an eight-page article by Morse titled Recreational canoeing in Canada; its history and its hazards. In that article he significantly noted that "wilderness, instead of being hated and feared had come to have a new escape value; and the canoe remained the best way to penetrate it."[4][5]

In 1955 Morse, Sigurd Olson and four others took a 500 mile canoe trip on the Churchill River from Île-à-la-Crosse to Cumberland House. An account of this trip was enshrined in Sigurd Olson's book The Lonely Land.[6] This group took several trips together before and after that journey and became known as The Voyageurs. In the 1960s Eric and a younger group of paddlers traveled long stretches of Canada's far north including Eric's favorite river, the Coppermine (1966) and the Thelon (1962). In 1965 Eric's party traveled up the Rat River, N.W.T. and over the continental divide through McDougall Pass, the lowest point on the western cordillera, into Yukon Territory and down the Porcupine River. [7] In 1985, the Morse River was named (Topo Map 66F) by a group of Canadian paddlers from the Hide-Away Canoe Club. The name change was passed on August 1, 1985 while the group was still on the trip. The Morse River drains into the south side of Garry Lake on the Back River system. Pierre Trudeau supported the naming application.


Books authored by Morse include:[8][9][10]


  1. ^ Eric W. Morse Fonds (collections) R8288 Canadian National Archives R8288 Prepared in 2002 by R. Fisher for the Social and Cultural Archives Retrieved 10/28/20/13
  2. ^ a b Bio and Publisher's Weekly book review info. Retrieved 10/28/13
  3. ^ Listing of honorary members of the Explorer's Club Retrieved 10/28/13
  4. ^ Canadian Geographic magazine web site Retrieved 10/28/13 "From the archives" box gives 1977 date for Canadian Geographic article. "In 1977, canoeing pioneer Eric W. Morse described in the Canadian Geographical Journal the history of utilitarian and recreational canoeing in Canada. After the First World War, writes Morse, two-thirds of Canadians lived in cities, giving the wilderness—and canoeing—a new purpose. “[T]he wilderness instead of being hated and feared had come to have a new, escape value,” he writes, “and the canoe remained the best way to penetrate it.”" "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-11-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Canadian Geographic magazine article: Recreational canoeing in Canada; its history and its hazards. By Eric W. Morse Retrieved 10/28/13 Archived 2012-12-13 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Che-mun journal Summer 2005 The Journal of Canadian Wilderness Canoeing Pages 5 & 8 Retrieved 10/29/13
  7. ^ Sigurd F. Olson: An Inventory of His Papers at the Minnesota Historical Society Minnesota Historical Society archive inventory, summarization and overview Sig Olson materials Retrieved 10/29/13
  8. ^ Barnes & Noble listing of his books Retrieved 10/28/13
  9. ^ Open directory project listing of his books. Retrieved 10/28/13
  10. ^ Retrieved 10/29/13
  11. ^ listing and image of Fur trade canoe routes of Canada / Then and now Retrieved 10/29/13
  12. ^ Amazon listing, description and image of book Freshwater Saga Memoirs of a Lifetime of Wilderness Canoeing Retrieved 10/29/13