The Mackenzie River Guide - A Paddler's Guide to Canada's Longest River - by Michelle Swallow

Book Reviews

For thousands of years the Dene have referred to this giant of a river as Dehcho – Deh meaning “river” and Cho meaning “big” or “worthy of respect.”

Stretching over 1800 km. from its source at Great Slave Lake to the Arctic Ocean, it is second in length only to the Mississippi within North America.

This book, while referred to as “A Paddlers’ Guide to Canada’s Longest River,” offers the reader a great deal more than just technical advice on getting from point A to point B. 

While the technical components are very well covered, the Guide also includes information on what to pack, where to buy supplies, the best campsites, navigation tips, where to find a hot shower and even how to boil up a porcupine – which of course comes complete with toothpicks - just in case you get a bit peckish en route.

In my view, what distinguishes The Mackenzie River Guide from the overwhelming majority of  “paddlers guides” is that Michelle deftly interweaves fact and practicality together with myth and legend. 

Through her book Michelle introduces the reader to the people who live and work along this mighty river, and explores the cultural significance and histories of the villages and landmarks that dot it’s 1800km course.

And she doesn't merely cover the material many of us have perhaps come across in contemporary history text’s, but rather focuses on and brings to life traditional place names and stories about giant beavers and muskrats, and Yamqria The Lawmaker, who as legend has it, had the power to transform himself into a spirit.

Beautifully illustrated by Farah Denkovski, Michelle’s traveling companion on her trip down river, the book is in full colour and features over sixty maps.

If you are a paddler who may be contemplating that trip of a lifetime on what is arguably Canada’s greatest river, or just someone who loves the north and would like to learn more about this very special place, then The Mackenzie River Guide is a must read.

To order your copy, you can either visit Michell's website:, or simply click on any of the following links:

Last modified onThursday, 12 March 2015 15:16
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