Canoeing with the Cree

By Eric Sevareid

Imagine two teenagers paddling a canoe from Minneapolis to the Hudson Bay without the benefits of GPS, cell phones or tracking systems. That is what Eric Sevareid and Walter C. Port chose to do in 1930.
It was the day after graduation from high school when they launched their used 18-foot canoe filled with supplies into the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling, amidst goodbyes of family members. Their four-month journey covered more than 2,200 miles of rivers, lakes and difficult portages.
On the side of the canoe, aptly named Sans Souci, which means “without care,” the boys announced their journey by painting “Minneapolis to Hudson Bay.” They wrote articles about their adventure and the people they met, submitting them to the Minneapolis Star from various city stops.
Canoeing with the Cree, first published in 1935, is an account of their journey. It takes the reader with the two young men through the waterways and portages, and details the cities and villages where they rested, repaired equipment and restocked their supplies.
It also chronicles the physical and mental strength needed for a journey like that, and the struggles each encountered. At one point, the journey got the best of them and anger filled their relationship until it exploded into blows.
The book is a well-written journal outlining their adventure. It also speaks about the time in history and people’s reactions to each other. For example, the boys gathered letters of introduction along the way, which at the time, were an important part of validating them and their mission.
My expectations of the book were different than what the words served, but I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in real life adventure.



  1. Is there an audio version of this book?
    It sounds interesting enough to listen to in the car.

    • Yes, there is, though it is expensive. An audio version was released in 2008 by Holton House Audio. In an article written about the release, I found out two teenagers from Chaska, Colton Witte and Sean Bloomfield, did a canoe trip of their own, reliving Canoeing with the Cree.

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