My latest book, Once Around Algonquin: An Epic Canoe Journey, hit the online carts of Amazon, Indigo and Barnes and Noble last week. It should be in regular brick-and-mortar stores in a few more weeks. This time, I self-published (IngramSpark), so I don’t have a clue on tracking distribution. But to quote Warren Buffett: “In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”
My past seventeen books have been through a traditional publisher. This time, I went it alone. It’s an experiment of sorts; a way to change things up and see what’s around the next bend in the river.
It’s also a different book for me. It only has a little route information—namely that the 420 kilometre trip, titled by Algonquin Outfitters staff as The Meanest Link, was done clockwise, linked all six Algonquin watersheds, crossed 55 lakes and had over 100 portages (adding up to 68 kilometres).
It also isn’t a “how-to” book; even though it does have an index at the end giving tips and tricks on how my buddy Andy Baxter and I actually pulled the whole thing off.
It’s made up of tales—including stolen whisky, bloodthirsty mosquitoes and an unexpected paddle through the middle of Huntsville’s famed bathtub race. Throughout the (mis)adventure, I share some of the rich history of Ontario’s oldest park and my aspirations for its future. I guess it’s kind of like Bill Bryson’s Walk in the Woods, with a dash of Bill Mason Song of the Paddle and a pinch of Sigurd F. Olson’s Lonely Land.
I think it’s my best book yet. Of course, I’m biased. I’m the writer—and the publisher.
I asked a few writing/paddling friends to review it for me before it was released. Here’s what they had to say:
“Get ready for the canoe trip of a lifetime! Kevin Callan has written an instant classic in Once Around Algonquin, the story of Kevin and his pal Andy celebrating their 50th birthdays by taking on the legendary ‘Meanest Link,’ the toughest, longest, craziest—and most satisfying paddle and portage ever imagined.”
— ROY MacGREGOR, author of Canoe Country: The Making of Canada
“God bless Kevin Callan. The Happy Camper is still out there doing his thing and encouraging the rest of us to do the same. Still not entirely sure about the Kevin-and-Andy-La-Cage-aux-Folles-meets-the-Odd-Couple-or-a-pair-of-old-sneakers schtick but Callan charm comes in many forms. Once Around Algonquin is funny, corny, engaging and authentic with a dabbling of trail wisdom and life lessons woven into the tale of yet another epic canoe trip. Two blistered thumbs up!”
— JAMES RAFFAN, author of Circling the Midnight Sun, Deep Waters, and many others.
“Kevin Callan is one of Canada’s best-known paddlers, and few people know Alqonquin Park like he does. Once Around Alqonquin is at once a vivid account of a legendarily tough canoe trip, an illuminating history of one of Canada’s best-loved wilderness areas, and a heartfelt plea for the park’s ongoing protection. A must-read for canoe trippers everywhere.”
— ALEC ROSS, author of Coke Stop in Emo: Adventures of a Long-Distance Paddler
“Kevin Callan’s Once Around Algonquin is an exciting tale of misadventure on the toughest route in Ontario’s most well-loved wilderness. Enjoy history of Algonquin’s paddling paradise while you chuckle along with the tales behind the blisters and bruises in this bromance adventure tale, all told with Callan’s trademark humor.”
— KAYDI PYETTE, editor, Paddling Magazine