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Celebrating women’s canoeing adventures

Judith Niemi
Judith Niemi
Judith Niemi by Thomas Strand - thomasstrand.com

Book: Rivers Running Free: A Century of Women’s Canoeing Adventures

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Rivers Running Free: A Century of Women’s Canoeing Adventures by Judith Niemi and Barb Wiseser, Berkeley, California, The Seal Press (Adventura Book, Second Edition (April 8, 1997), Paperback: 304 pages, from $1,31 (Used) to $27.95 (New) reviewed by John G Hall

this collection eloquently record the boundaries canoeing has inspired
Judith Wiemi and Barb Wieser: www.amazon.com

Rivers Running Free is a remarkable, pioneering effort when it comes to writing about women’s canoeing. When Niemi and Wieser published the First Edition of their book: (Rivers Running Free: Stories of Adventurous Women) in December 1987, it became the definitive text on women’s canoeing, primarily it was the first book of its kind to solely celebrate women’s canoeing.

In the opinion of Roland Person of Southern Illinois University,” The editors present over 35 canoeing adventures, historical and contemporary, that reflect a wide range of female experience, responses, and types of travelers. Yet these varied accounts have common themes of building self-reliance and awareness and finding community in the company of other women. Despite dangers, the dominant impression is of going with the flow.”

In addition “This contrasts markedly with the conquering, measuring, or racing typical of much (male?) canoeing literature.” Therefore, Mr. Person, whose review appeared in Library Journal, “Recommended this book especially for women readers, and for anyone wanting a challenge on water.”

Ten years later, in the Preface of their second edition the authors are Pleased to see more and more of women’s writing being published.” Hovever, Rivers R running Free remains the sole literary offering about women and canoeing.”

Even though the authors expanded the second edition by 17 pages, many of the stories, like the original publication, share a common theme. “Despite the differences in time and setting from 1905 to the 1980s, from Mexico to the Hudson Bay, Rivers Running Free: A Century of Women’s Canoeing Adventures many of the contributions share a common theme: that of women shedding societal norms and surviving by their wits and strength.”