Timothy J. Kent
Historical Author, Paddler, and Reenactor

 

 

 

 

 

Book Reviews

"Timothy J. Kent, an in-depth researcher and a respected author, is one of the few historians who delve into the French era of midwestern history. In Paddling Across the Peninsula, Kent has analyzed considerable numbers of seventeenth and eighteenth century maps and historical records, to determine the location of the river and portage route across Michigan, from Saginaw Bay to the mouth of the Grand River. This proved to be a difficult task, since the landscape of Michigan has been changed in some areas by clearing and draining the land, which has lowered the water table. This book is really two works in one. The first describes the cross-Michigan route. The second section, "Portfolio of Birchbark Canoe Travel," is composed of twenty excellent photographs of the author and his family, in 17th century dress and with period equipment, making a canoe journey. Each photograph is accompanied by a lengthy caption explaining in detail the process of birchbark canoe travel. Annotated with notes and references, this book will be of great interest to historians and serious re-enactors of the French regime in the Great Lakes region, and also to paddlers and canoe enthusiasts everywhere."-David Armour, Deputy Director and Historian, Mackinac Historic State Parks

"I am very impressed and pleased that Tim Kent has taken on such a project. The cross-Michigan water route is a most important piece of information, which is needed in order to understand the true history of our land. He has researched and given to us a graphic description of this route, which was used for so many centuries by the native people and the voyageurs. I am entranced by the details that he has identified through his extremely thorough research, and I commend him on a well-written and enlightening book. This work brings into focus the true importance of this canoe route in Great Lakes history."- Charles Hoover, Executive Director, Historical Society of Saginaw County

"This is another one of Kent's impressively researched works on canoe travel during the fur trade era. The book gives valuable insight into the requirements for a useful and manageable canoe route. The second half of the small but admirable book is occupied by a series of twenty black-and-white photographs with extended captions that illustrate an interesting re-creation of the ancient native and French methods of traveling by birchbark canoe. Although it is regrettably not mentioned in the book's title, this section is at least as fascinating as the first one on the Michigan canoe route. It shows how to paddle, load, and portage a birchbark canoe, the use of a complete canoe-and-canvas shelter, and the kind of equipment and clothing these travelers would have used. By involving his family in these re-enactions, Kent gives us a wonderful picture of various aspects of life in the French fur trade times of 1600s and 1700s."-Toni Harting, Nastawgan, Wilderness Canoe Association

"Kent makes a good case for the existence of the mid-Michigan water route; he draws largely on the evidence provided by 17th and 18th century maps. Indeed, it is significant that the French mapmakers demonstrated a working knowledge of mid-Michigan's interior river systems and connections at a remarkably early period (mid 17th century). The explorers were obviously already penetrating deeply inland."-William Potter, Le Journal, Center for French Colonial Studies

"Paddling Across the Peninsula is not only meticulously researched, it is lovingly researched. This book is an important and fascinating addition to the history of Michigan and the Great Lakes region."-Jerry Dennis, author of Canoeing Michigan Rivers, From a Wooden Canoe, and The Living Great Lakes

 

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