In an age of mass-produced and disposable objects, traditional crafts are becoming extinct, and appreciation for craftsmanship has become a hobby for the wealthy dilettante. But here and there, a few stalwart individuals carry on the old traditions. Henri Vaillancourt of Greenville, New Hampshire is in large part responsible for the continuing survival of the birch bark canoe. McPhee tells the story not only of Vaillancourt and his work, but of the canoe's role in American history. Many McPhee fans consider this lovely and lucid book one of his finest works.
“In his own beautifully crafted work, McPhee treats both man and boat with all the respect and admiration their precarious presence commands.” -- Time
“Every white water and wilderness buff should rise to it like a trout, but as all followers of Mr. McPhee's work would expect, its appeal and value cannot be so narrowly limited; it's a lively chronicle, rich in character study and observations.” -- The Wall Street Journal