North America

David Thompson and the mapping of Canada


David Thompson, the explorer who mapped western Canada David Thompson has been called “greatest practical land geographer that the world has produced”. He travelled some 90,000 kilometres across North America as a fur trader and surveyor, mapping 4.9 million square kilometres of wilderness — one-fifth of the continent.  His work was so accurate that it remained the...

Happy Canada Day


Happy #CanadaDay2020 to all my friends and family back home. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in two decades of travel — having lived in 3 other countries, and traveled and written about close to 80 more — is that we’ve got it very good back home. I feel incredibly lucky to have grown up in such a wonderful country. July 1st is a day to stop and remember that, and to show a...

Living the Golden Age of Prank Calls


I had an unexpected glimpse of a friend from the distant past last week. I was staying up late watching a French Canadian film called The Decline of the American Empire. Around thirty minutes in, just as I’m taking a sip of Crown Royal on ice, a telephone rings. The character in the shot stiffens in his chair, and then the camera pans to a side table, where we see… I had to stop and grab a screen...

Old Glory by Jonathan Raban


After a childhood of river dreams inspired by readings of Huckleberry Finn, Jonathan Raban set out to travel the length of the Mississippi River from north to south in a 16-foot open aluminum boat. His journey took place in 1979. The waters he drifted down were much more dangerous than the river of his childhood imagination, but Huck’s urge to escape, to light out for the Territory before someone...

My Sunny St. Lawerence Childhood


I’d like to tell you about a book I just read.  It’s about the Thousand Islands. In the 1950’s, an American writer called John Keats bought a small island in the St. Lawrence River. He got it from his brother-in-law, a stockbroker who had purchased the land for the three vintage boats that came with it. Keats was just a journalist, he couldn’t afford a faraway island with a run down boathouse and...

Exploring My Old Urban Haunts


I shared a video with you in my last blog, where I got together with an old childhood friend to search for a campsite we’d set up 27 years before. I hope it brought to mind some of your own childhood adventures and memories, and that you spent a couple days taking a mental journey through the hazy summers of your youth. But I’m not quite finished taking you down Memory Lane… We didn’t just search...

Traveling Back in Time


I found one of my old campsites this summer… nearly 27 years later. In a recent blog, I talked about exploring old haunts in my hometown region with my friend Rob Wilson. Rob was my partner in crime for many teenage exploits. And when we weren’t pulling pranks or getting in trouble at school, we took to the woods near his home on Buckwheat Road, or we borrowed a canoe from my father’s friend Lee...

Peeling Back the Years At My Old Public Library


I visited the public library in my hometown over the Christmas holidays. I hadn’t been back in about 15 years. The children’s section was just as I remembered it. But the rest had changed dramatically. The building finally got a much needed renovation and expansion, and the adult section I browsed in for so many years has been transformed into offices and a comfortable, quiet reading area. The...

The Biggest Food Fight in the History of My High School


My proudest high school moment wasn’t an academic or sporting achievement. I failed several classes and I was never part of a team. No, my proudest achievement was a food fight. The biggest food fight in the history of my school. I wonder how many of my friends knew that me and Jim started the whole thing? There were a lot of small skirmishes leading up to it, of course. Low level food fights...

In Memory of Dalhousie Lake Finishing School


It’s the Victoria Day long weekend in Canada. For most people, that means the start of summer: barbecue season, cottage parties and beer (it’s not called “May Two-Four” for nothing…). But for me, this weekend is always a time of remembrance. The May long weekend was the time of our annual fishing trip to Dalhousie Lake. A cabin in the woods with no television or telephone, no running water...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.


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