Up North Intro

Up North: A Guide to Ontario's Wilderness from Blackflies to the Northern Lights

UP NORTH: A Guide to Ontario’s Wilderness from Blackflies to the Northern Lights


From the time we are children, there are hundreds of questions swirling around in our minds prompted by experiences in the woods and wilderness when we go “up north.” Such experiences make fresh the sense of wonder with which the pre-technological human mind must have viewed the natural world, with all of its sublime and spectacular phenomena. The intent of this book is to answer, from that sense of wonder, a good number of those common questions and relate some of the amusing bits of stories, history and ideas that surround them.

As much as possible, Up North aims to incorporate the whole outdoor experience — the bugs that pester, the wind that scatters them, the trees the wind sways, the life within the soil beneath the trees, the birds in the air, animals in the night, and the stars, moon and northern lights that dance across the night sky. We have concentrated on the most commonly seen or experienced species and things in central Ontario, as they are what occupy your immediate attention most of the time when camping or visiting the cottage.

By central Ontario, we refer to the vast, mixed-forest hinterland from the Rideau Lakes, Kawarthas and Bruce Peninsula, on to the rocky Canadian Shield as far as the Temagami and Mississagi Provincial Park areas — the “up north” of millions of Ontarians. Although much of the guide’s information applies as well to other parts of the country, including far northern Ontario and much of Quebec, we have sought, by concentrating on this specific region, to give as complete a picture as possible within the space of the book.

We have arranged the entries in a way that we hope is useful to readers. There are four main chapters: Animal Kingdom, Plant Kingdom, The Heavens and Mother Earth. Subsections within the chapters are arranged alphabetically; thus, amphibians come before birds in the Animal Kingdom. Finally, within each subsection, individual entries are arranged alphabetically by common name: hawk (broad-winged) before owl (barred), and so on. An index is also included.

Being journalists ourselves, rather than biologists, we have endeavoured to be accurate while straying from a strict scientific or academic tone in these pages. Our intent is to answer the many questions of campers and cottagers in the same spirit in which they are asked. If we anthropomorphize, it is because that is indeed what campers and people naturally tend to do when they talk about and relate to nature around them. We have striven, however, to ensure that a sense of fun does not distort the true nature of the subject.

Doug Bennet
Tim Tiner

© Tim Tiner and Doug Bennet, Up North: A Guide to Ontario’s Wilderness from Black Flies to the Northern Lights, McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1993


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