"Central Ontario's French River is the symbolic dividing line between northern and southern Ontario. To wilderness canoeists, however, it's more than a line on a map, it's a line stretching back into our history. A line that Toni Harting brings to life again in his beautiful book on the river.
The interesting subtitle refers to the name the native Ojibway gave to the French Missionaries who began to appear in the early 1600s. They of course were but the vanguard of a wave of Europeans who swept across the continent eventually claiming it for their own. Everyone who went west by the traditional route, paddled the waters of the French River.
As to the book, it's an excellent history of the fabled river. Any body of water with this much history has a lot of stories to tell. For example, the building of the dams at Chaudiere Falls early in the century changed the river's natural balance and water levels. They also destroyed much of the historic portage that avoided these falls near the start of the river. Writer Harting includes many comments from fur traders journals in his thorough examination of the French. One of the more interesting chapters is Historic Canoe Routes where he presents us with original maps of the river starting from Champlain's beautiful effort in 1632. Harting also tells us about the great number of artifacts from axes, muskets and other trade goods that were pulled out of the river below significant rapids beginning in 1961. The French River must have been a really exciting place for some of the people paddling - and dumping - through here. There is also a discussion on the question of the various channels leading out of the French and into Georgian Bay. Harting tips his hat to Eric Morse who did the first serious writing about the proper names for the variety of channels."--Www.canoe.ca/AllAboutCanoes/book_french.html.