Bill Mason | Canada


Bill Mason developed a great passion for canoeing and the wilderness very early in life. As a renowned, award winning Canadian naturalist, author, artist, filmmaker and conservationist Bill Mason is widely considered a Canadian Canoeing Legend. His books, paintings, films and environmental advocacy and stewardship have each had a tremendous impact on generations of wilderness travelers and whitewater paddlers, not only within Canada, but worldwide. As the most successful filmmaker in the history of the National Film Board of Canada, Bill Mason is perhaps best known for the “Path of the Paddle” Whitewater series of films. Consisting of four (4) individual titles: Quietwater Solo Basic, Quietwater Doubles Basic, Solo Whitewater and Doubles Whitewater, “Path of the Paddle” introduced new skills to canoeists worldwide during the 1970s and 1980s and were influential in increasing the sheer joy and exuberance of a whitewater run.

Bill Mason’s influence on whitewater paddling extends far beyond his films, books and publications and into the hearts of paddlers and Candians in general. So strong has his influence been on the love of paddling and the environmental stewardship of Canadians that his influence continues to be felt far and wide, twenty years after his death.

“He is a man enthralled with the sheer joy of guiding a canoe through challenging rapids in the early spring, awestruck by the beauty of nature as seen over the bow of a canoe silently traversing a mirror-smooth lake in the early morning…” –Pierre Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister

• 1950-1958: Manitoba Pioneer Camp Canoeing Program, Program Director of Development: many of the leading-edge skills, techniques and equipment developed by Bill Mason throughout the 1970s and 1980s, as featured in the “Path of the Paddle” series of films and books were adopted by and incorporated into the course curriculums of many Canadian Canoe and Youth Camps, canoe clubs, wilderness expedition companies and provincial and territorial whitewater canoeing organizations.
• 1959: Manitoba Pioneer Camp, Wilderness Treasure, Filmmaker

Bill Mason was the most successful filmmaker in the history of the National Film Board of Canada. Throughout his career he was awarded 67 national and international awards for his films, including 2 Academy Award Nominations for “Paddle to the Sea” in 1964 and “Blake” in 1967.

1974: Elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts for Success in Filmmaking
1974: Elected to the Canadian Academy of Film and Television Arts and Sciences

Wilderness Canoe Association
Wooden Canoe Heritage Association
Paddle Canada, Life Member

1980: “Path of the Paddle: An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Canoeing,” by Bill Mason, Key Porter Books
1988: “Song of the Paddle: An Illustrated Guide to Wilderness Camping,” by Bill Mason, Key Porter Books
1995: “Canoescapes,” by Bill Mason, A Boston Mills Book

1963: “Wilderness Treasure”
1966: “Paddle to the Sea”
1969: “Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes”
1970: “Blake”
1971: “Death of a Legend”
1973: “Cry of the Wild”
1975: “In Search of the Bowhead Whale”
1977: “Path of the Paddle: Doubles Whitewater”
1977: “Face of the Earth”
1978: “Song of the Paddle”
1978: “Wolf Pack”
1983: “Path of the Paddle: Solo Whitewater”
1986: “The Land That Devours Ships”
1989: “Waterwalker”

• 1984: Award of Merit by the Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association “In deepest gratitude for your very meaningful contributions to the growth and development of canoeing in Canada.”
• 1984: National Parks Centennial Award by the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Canada “In grateful recognition of the special contribution made by Bill Mason to the celebration of the National Parks Centennial”.
• 1988: The Bill Mason Outdoor Education and Environmental Studies Centre opens in Ottawa
• 1989: Canadian Parks Service Heritage Award by the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Canada “Presented on behalf of the Canadian people to Bill Mason in recognition of your exceptional and significant contribution to Canada’s heritage.”
• 1989: Interpretation Canada Distinguished Service by Interpretation Canada “for excellence in the field of interpretation.”
• 1990: Paddle Canada establishes the Bill Mason Memorial Scholarship Fund
• 1998: Bill Mason was honored with a Canadian Postage Stamp depicting him in a whitewater canoe. Eight Million stamps were issued
• 2003: The Canadian Heritage Rivers Society creates the “Bill Mason Award” and presents it to a Canadian Citizen who has made an outstanding contribution to the canoeing heritage in Canada.