People & Culture

Wally Schaber and the Last of the Wild Rivers

Episode 43

Canoeing legend Wally Schaber talks about his lifelong love of the Dumoine River, the last of the wild rivers in the Ottawa river watershed

  • Published Jul 12, 2022
  • Updated Aug 09
Wally Schaber on the Dumoine, below Eye of the Needle Rapids. (Photo: Meredith Brown)
Expand Image

Now that we’re deep into summer paddling season, let’s hop in a canoe with a genuine Canadian canoeing legend and ride some frothing, churning white water.

As the founder of Blackfeather Wilderness Adventures, and Trailhead Outfitters, for more than 50 years, Wally Schaber has led trips down Canada’s most iconic rivers, many in the arctic, like the Nahanni, the Hood, the Coppermine, the MacKenzie, paddling with everyone from former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, to his canoeing mentor, Bill Mason.

But when it came time to write a book about his favourite river, it was one much closer to his home in west Quebec’s Gatineau Hills, a place he’s known since childhood, the Dumoine.

His book “The Last of the Wild Rivers,” explores the Dumoine’s rich history, going back to the First Nations, the fur trade and logging boom, and his own experiences on this beautiful, unspoilt stretch of water, just a few hours from Ottawa, and his ongoing efforts to keep it wild, through his organization, Friends of the Dumoine.

As RCGS Fellow and canoeing historian James Raffan describes it, “The book is much more than a river biography, it’s a river elegy and love story between a man and a very special place.”


Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content


Q&A: A Canadian river conservation leader on protecting our waterways

Mark Angelo, founder of BC Rivers Day and World Rivers Day, shares insights on his love of rivers, his forthcoming film and what can be done to protect the planet’s waterways

  • 1092 words
  • 5 minutes


Joanie and Gary McGuffin, Canada’s First Couple of canoeing

Episode 66

They turned their honeymoon into an epic canoe trip from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arctic; 40 years later, Gary and Joanie McGuffin share tales of their adventures together and their advice for young explorers

  • 68 minutes
Tori, in her canoe, smiles back towards the camera across glistening blue water

People & Culture

Paddling like a girl with Tori Baird

Part of our Colour the Trails series

  • 1130 words
  • 5 minutes


Canoeing in Alberta: A mystic trip down Milk River

A Southern Alberta paddling destination lined with fascinating geological formations and First Nations rock art

  • 1695 words
  • 7 minutes