McGahern Stewart Publishing

McGahern Stewart Publishing

McGahern Stewart Publishing is an independent Ottawa-based publishing house that specializes in books on northern travel. It was formed in 2011 in an attempt to bring out-of-print and never-before-published accounts of northern travel to the public’s attention in a series called “Forgotten Northern Classics.” McGahern Stewart Publishing is committed to making these historical northern titles available in high-quality, handsome editions with maps, photographs, and supplementary editorial material for the reader of the literature of the north.

To order and for inquiries, please contact us at:

McGahern Stewart Publishing
11 Murray Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 9M5
(613) - 230 - 2275

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Bill Guppy
We are pleased to to announce the release of
Canoe Trails and Shop Tales... by Hugh Stewart

"I just got a copy of Hugh's wonderful book for my birthday a week or so ago.
It is so fun to be in total mesh and agreement with quite literally every philosophical nuance".

- Garrett Conover. Preeminent Wilderness Paddler in American circles.

Hugh Stewart has been a paddler since the 1950s, a guide since the 1960s, and a canoe builder since the 1980s. He has paddled extensively in various parts of northern Canada. Few canoe builders have equivalent field experience. For more than half a century Hugh, attuned since boyhood to the northern past, has devoted himself to honouring its iconic symbol, the canoe, by following in the paths of men long dead, by teaching hundreds the skills of the paddle and the trail, and by keeping alive the art of building strong, practical watercraft of great beauty. He is a Canadian exemplar. The team at Headwaters Canoe Shop proudly continues to construct various models of wood-canvas canoes.

In Hugh's collection of essays, memorable characters abound. There is the inimitable Russ, who was the trip director at Camp Temagami when Hugh was a camper and young guide, the wonderful Bell family from whom Hugh and his co-workers buy cedar for their canoes, and Willie Williams, the inspiring Tahltan elder from northern British Columbia. "Cultural Custodians" introduces the many friends who have helped Hugh preserve both the techniques of wooden canoe building and the practice of traditional travel skills. In two essays the author takes an historical look at canoeists and wilderness travellers of the past. There are thought provoking pieces on wilderness preservation and forest management issues, and detailed accounts of two long remote trips which Hugh took, one in Labrador and Québec on the Petit Mécatina River and one on the Barrens in the Northwest Territories.

Canoe Trails and Shop Tales. Making Crooked Nerves Straight.
Ottawa. McGahern Stewart Publishing. 2018. 8vo, 23cm, xix,300p., with 170 illustrations, mainly by the author, including many maps, bibliography, colour illustrated wraps, trade paperback. (ISBN 978-0-9868600-7-2).
$ 25.00

Note: Book Launch & Reading. Thursday, October 18 at 6:30 - 8:00 PM. at Expéditions Wakefield, main street, Wakefield, Quebec

A Reading, Signing at the Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair, (10:30 - 5), Sunday, October, 28th, 2018: TUDOR HALL 3750 North Bowesville Rd. (near Hunt Club & Riverside Drive). - Early Mid-Day. Other titles from McGahern Stewart Publishing will be on display.

Bill Guppy Bill Guppy. King of the Woodsmen. Life - Long Friend and Tutor of "Grey Owl"
With a new Introduction by Hugh Stewart. Profusely Illustrated with photographs, line sketches, and maps.

Much of the social history of the Temagami region is recorded in bits and pieces in obscure places. A frequently referenced document is King of the Woodsmen by Hal Pink about a legendary Temagami character, Bill Guppy. The book, originally published in 1940, is extremely rare. McGahern Stewart Publishing, in collaboration with the Temagami Community Foundation, is reprinting it as part of the "Forgotten Northern Classics" series.

Bill Guppy was an intriguing character who had a good sense of history, was an astute observer of human nature, and could spin a wonderful tale. His humourous account of training the moose and bear mascots for the Algonquin Regiment in WWI illustrates once again that truth can be more interesting than fiction. Guppy describes the types of people, some desirable and some less so, that he encountered in his time guiding sportsmen and canoeists. His observations ring sharp and true 85 years later.

For anyone interested in the story of Grey Owl and his connection to Temagami, King of the Woodsmen is required reading. The book's full title “Bill Guppy: King of the Woodsmen, Life Long Friend and Tutor of ‘Grey Owl”, was clearly an attempt to use Guppy's association with Grey Owl to market the book. Guppy gives an unembellished account of his time with the young Archie Belaney before he was transformed into Grey Owl.

The frontier, wherever it is, draws many characters; honest people trying to get ahead, opportunists and scammers of all shades, the skilled and the unskilled. Guppy describes them all. There are few places where the panorama of the early days of Temagami are so richly drawn. Every resident or regular visitor to Temagami will want to have this book.

McGahern Stewart Publishing; in cooperation with Temagami Community Foundation.
Ottawa. 2016. 8vo, 23cm, xvi, 296p.
Illustrated stiff wraps, trade paperback $25.00
Durabind hardcover $39.00

Thelon Odyssey "Take my word for it: If you love canoe tripping, anything put out by Ottawa-based boutique publisher McGahern Stewart Publishing is worth reading." -Conor Mihell,

That Summer on the Nahanni 1928: The Journals of Fenley Hunter. Frances Lake and A Trip to the Western Arctic.

While the ‘literati’ were drawn to Paris in the late 1920’s, many adventurers were drawn to Northern Canada. It was the last decade before air travel wrought irrevocable changes. Various rationales justif ed the adventures. Fenley Hunter’s mission was to measure the huge cataract on the Nahanni River and name it after his daughter.

Published in part in a very limited edition (50 copies) in 1924, this is the First Trade Edition containing both journals.

Author: Fenley Hunter
Editors: Hugh Stewart & David Finch
ISBN 978-0-9868600-5-8
Retail Price: $24.95
(Durabind Hardcover) $35.95

Thelon Odyssey Thelon Odyssey is W.H.B. Hoare's account of his northern trips in 1928-1929 (Journal of a Barren-lander)and 1930-1931 (Return to the Barrens).
Hoare was sent by the Department of the Interior to establish the boundaries of the newly declared Thelon Game Sanctuary, survey the muskoxen population and build a warden's cabin. All this to be accomplished on foot, by dogsled and canoe. This edition of A Thelon Odyssey includes the hitherto unpublished 1930-1931 journal along with a reprint of the 1928-1929 journal first published in 1990. It also includes photographs by Hoare, a biographical sketch,maps, editorial material by Hoare's daughter, Sheila Thomson, an extensive bibliography, and other supplementary material that enriches our historical knowledge of this area. - "Hoare and Knox struggled with faulty maps through blizzards, vicious cold, rotten ice, slush, freezing water, and finally clouds of mosquitoes and black flies. They slept in the open, in tents, in makeshift lean-toes, in trapper's cabins, while portaging tons of supplies stored at various caches, by sleigh and canoe. Their journey took them into the country where Hornby had perished just a year before when the caribou failed to arrive. (Ottawa Citizen, review of Volume One, 1990)

Title: A Thelon Odyssey - Journal of a Barrenlander & Return to the Barrens
Author: W.H.B. Hoare
Editor: Sheila C. Thomson
Publication Information: McGahern Stewart Publishing, 368 Dalhousie St. Suite 301, Ottawa, ON K1N 7G3
ISBN: 978-0-9868600-4-1
Price: 24.95

Distant Summers Vol. 1 Book Cover Distant Summers: P. G. Downes’ Journals of Travels in Northern Canada, 1936-1947. (Vol I)
The first of two volumes, Distant Summers (Vol I) contains the accounts of P. G. Downes’ 1936 and 1937 trips in northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and of his 1938 journey to Great Bear and Great Slave lakes.

Edited by R. H. Cockburn, this volume includes numerous notes, 8 maps and nearly 100 photos. Volume II is forthcoming from McGahern Stewart Publishing.

Title:  Distant Summers: P. G. Downes' Journals of Travels in Northern Canada, 1936-1947 (Vol I: 1939-1947)
Author: P. G. Downes
Editor: R. H. Cockburn
Publication Information: McGahern Stewart Publishing, 368 Dalhousie St. Suite 301, Ottawa, ON  K1N 7G3
ISBN: 978-0-9868600-2-7
Reprinted $26.00

Distant Summers Book Vol. 2 Cover Distant Summers: P. G. Downes’ Journals of Travels in Northern Canada, 1936-1947. (Vol II)
The second and final volume of Distant Summers ( Vol. II ) contains the Sleeping Island journal of 1939; the 1940 account of Downes’ attempt to canoe to Kasba Lake on the Kazan River; and the journal of his final canoe voyage, in 1947, from Amisk Lake to Lac La Ronge.

Edited by R. H. Cockburn, this volume includes introductions to each of the journals, numerous notes, twelve appendices, 13 maps, sketches by Downes, and nearly 80 photographs.
Title:  Distant Summers: P. G. Downes' Journals of Travels in Northern Canada, 1936-1947 (Vol II: 1939-1947)
Author: P. G. Downes
Editor: R. H. Cockburn
Publication Information: McGahern Stewart Publishing, 368 Dalhousie St. Suite 301, Ottawa, ON  K1N 7G3
ISBN: 978-0-9868600-3-4
Price: 26.00

Distant Summers Photographs Click here to view P. G. Downes’ Distant Summers photographs, many in the original colour.

  Click here to see April 2012's edition of Canadian Geographic for an article about P.G. Downes' Distant Summers, editor R.H. Cockburn, and McGahern Stewart Publishing.

Sleeping Island Book Cover
Click cover for more info
Sleeping Island: The Narrative of a Summer’s Travel in Northern Manitoba and the Northwest Territories by P.G. Downes. New Improved Edition of this Arctic Classic, edited with a new Introduction and Notes by R.H. Cockburn.

A modern classic of travel in northern Canada before the 1939-45 War. As a narrative of an arduous canoe voyage, Sleeping Island has few equals. Bob Cockburn's introduction, sequel, afterword, epilogue and notes make this not simply a reprint, but a new book. On page one, Downes' attempt to answer the question "why" anyone would wish to go north rates, for me, with Shackleton's famous ad for participants for the "South" 1913-1917 expedition.

Author: P. G. Downes
Editor: R. H. Cockburn (new introduction & additional notes)
Publication Information: McGahern Stewart Publishing, Ottawa, 2011. 8 vo. xxvii, 294p., with frontis & 53 illustrations and 6 maps, on high yield finish paper designed to enhance the quality of these important illustrations, colour illustrated stiff wraps with water resident matt coated finish, trade paperback.
new ISBN: 978-0-9868600-0-3
Reprinted $32.00

P.G. Downes Photographs Click here to view P. G. Downes’ Sleeping Island photographs, many in the original colour.

McGahern Stewart Publishing • 11 Murray Street Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 9M5 • Phone 613-230-2275