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October 16, 2018

2/2/2018 11:12:00 AM
Paying it forward, area outdoor enthusiast inspires next generation in softcover book

Rollie Westman’s enthusiasm is still missed in certain circles around here -- be it helping to build support for bike trails, volunteering  promoting outdoor activities, or even his constant presence working the ski hill at Trollhaugen.  And, now some of his spirit has been uniquely captured in a publication he authored that’s available on Amazon.  

Everybody knew Rollie. He and his wife Martha owned the octagonal-shaped house on North Center Lake, until they moved to Utah not long ago to be closer to grown children and their families.  

Westman, 86,  recently let us know he published a softcover book that recounts a trio of his canoe expeditions from 50 or so years ago.  It is called “The Gods, Churchill and Yukon by Canoe.” ISBN # 9781978009486.

Coming in at approximately 100 pages this quick, concise read is full of more useful knowledge for canoe adventurers page-per-page than other larger volumes.  The daily journal writing style is accompanied by photos, a smattering of Westman’s sketches, and  maps in northern Canada where he paddled.  

Trips are recounted through Westman’s first-person point of view and also based on his canoe buddy,  Wally Peterson’s logs kept during the trips.  Peterson’s daughters had sent Westman their dad’s writings when Wally passed away in 1986.  Westman came back to them fairly recently and in 2014,  was moved to compile a re-telling of these adventures. The product, which he credits Kathy Wimmer with the assist for putting together, was printed just about a month ago.

Westman, with his wife Martha, owned the octagonal-shaped house on the east side of North Center Lake.  He was one of those people you saw everywhere-- whether riding his bike extensively or holding-forth on ski slopes.  

Westman harkens to writer Sigurd Olson for inspiring him to take canoe trips in northern Canada as a younger man.  He couldn’t not follow water trails of the Voyageurs and fur traders that Olson wrote about.  Westman says he met Olson at his home in Ely, around the time of the Churchill canoe trip.

“Canoeing with the Cree” a book published in1935, and written by Minnesotan (and famous newsman) Eric Sevareid was another big motivator, Westman explained. Sevareid and Walter Post took a canoe from Minneapolis, to Hudson Bay through the Minnesota River, Red River, Lake Winnipeg, Gods River and the Hayes River.

Trip one in Rollie’s book is Hudson Bay, trip two revolves around three people in an 18-foot canoe and for the third canoe adventure, in 1970 Westman re-traced gold rush routes of 1899 on the Yukon River.

His wish is that this book contributes a little bit towards keeping that same  love for the wild and wanderlust alive in others, that Olson nurtured in him.

Friendships cemented and unforgettable strangers encountered on these adventures all make for a pleasant read.  The history of sites they visited is easily digested as part of the blog-journalist style. For anybody who prefers their travel to create a feeling of being connected to the natural universe, reading this will certainly be worthwhile.

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