Boundary Waters Canoe Area Controversy
Who owns the land, water, forests, and wildlife in the wilderness area along the international boundary between Minnesota and Canada? Whose right is it to determine the use and disposition of its rich resources? To what purpose, in whose interests, and by what authority should mandates be created? Disputes about these and related issues-some of which remain in contention, even after the creation of national parks in the area by both Canada and the U.S.-reach back for many years. Opposing advocates-with firm convictions about the private vs. the public good, recreation vs. industry/trade, freedom vs. control, motorized vs. non-motorized recreation-have, for nearly a century, been unwavering in their efforts to prevail in winning public and legislative support for their respective campaigns. Major figures in these ongoing efforts included, among others, such men as Christopher C. Andrews, Edward W. Backus, Ernest C. Oberholtzer, and Sigurd F. Olson.
GET STARTED WITH SECONDARY SOURCES:
- The Boundary Makers: The Search for Wilderness in Minnesota's
Hundred Years' War, by David W. Adams.
PhD. thesis (University of Hawaii), 1998.
MHS call number: Microfiche 1155.
- The Boundary Waters Canoe Area: Wilderness Values and Motorized
Recreation, by James N. Gladden.
Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1990.
MHS call number: KF 5646 .B68 G55 1990.
- Canoe Country: An Embattled Wilderness, by David Backes.
Minocqua, Wis.: NorthWord Press, c1991.
MHS call number: QH 76.5 .M B33 1991.
- Controversy in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area: A Study,
by Burton H. Atwood.
[Glenview, Ill.]: Izaak Walton League, [1964?].
MHS call number: F 614 .A7 B8 .A8.
of the Wild: The Life of Ernest Oberholtzer, by Joe Paddock.
St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2001.
MHS call number: Reading Room QH 31 .O23 P34 2001.
- The Meaning of Wilderness: Essential Articles and Speeches,
by Sigurd F. Olson; edited and with an introduction by David Backes.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.
MHS call number: QH 102 .O386 2001.
Quetico-Superior: A Land Set Apart, by R. Newell Searle.
St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1977.
MHS call number: Reading Room QH 77.Q48 S4.
- A Wilderness in Crisis: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area; An Analysis,
by the North Star Chapter, Sierra Club, in cooperation with the Natural
[Minneapolis, Minn.: s.n., 1970].
MHS call number: F614 .A7B8 .S5.
- A Wilderness Within: The Life of Sigurd F. Olson, by
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
MHS call number: QH 31 .O472 B335 1997.
- Friends of the Boundary Waters Records.
This archival collection (1970-1978) contains newsletters, reports, fact sheets, maps, drafts of bills, printed material, and correspondence produced or collected by this coalition of conservation groups formed in 1976 to lobby for the preservation of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the Superior National Forest.
MHS call number: P1372; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks for more details (there is only 1 box).
- Friends of the Wilderness Records.
This archival collection (1917-1981) includes correspondence, printed materials, clippings, and miscellaneous items (mainly 1949-1975) related almost entirely to the activities of its executive secretary, William H. Magie. During 1949-1954 the organization concentrated on opposing the use of aircraft and on supporting federal land acquisition in the roadless areas of the Superior National Forest Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). Later it opposed logging, mining, and other commercial activities in the area, and supported efforts in Congress to pass a wilderness act (1957-1964), designate the BWCA as a wilderness area, and create Voyageurs National Park (1964-1971).
MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Notebooks — filed under P630 (19 boxes) and alphabetically under Friends of the Wilderness (2 boxes) — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 21 boxes total).
- Izaak Walton League of America, Duluth Chapter Records.
This archival collection (1963-1970) consists of correspondence, clippings, reports, booklets, financial statements, fact sheets, and promotional literature pertaining to the chapter's membership and activities, wildlife and resource management, water resources and water pollution, Superior National Forest, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Voyageurs National Park, timber wolf protection, hunting and fishing, conservation education, and the Quetico-Superior Council.
MHS call number: P1008; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks for a detailed list of boxes (there are 2 boxes).
- Ernest C. Oberholtzer Papers.
This archival collection consists of the papers (1856-198-) of a noted conservationist, explorer, and wilderness philosopher of the Rainy Lake area. He is most closely associated with the struggle to preserve the wilderness character of the border lakes region between the United States and Canada, especially as founder and an officer of the Wilderness Society. The papers focus on northern Minnesota conservation issues, particularly the creation and management of Superior National Forest, the Quetico Provincial Forest Reserve (Canada), Kabetogama State Forest, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and Voyageurs National Park; lake levels and hydroelectric power development in the Rainy Lake watershed; and attempts to marshal support for forest reserves, natural resource conservation, and wilderness values in general among the United States and Canadian governments and public. His correspondents included many noted conservationists and public figures. The collection also includes Oberholtzer's short stories, essays, and articles; notes on photography; personal journals; detailed reports of his field investigations of flood and timber conditions; and information on International Joint Commission lake level hearings.
MHS call number: M530 (there are 52 reels of microfilm); see the green Manuscripts Notebooks for a detailed guide to the collection, or use an electronic version of the inventory.
Note: Microfilm may be borrowed on Interlibrary Loan.
- Ernest C. Oberholtzer Oral History Interviews (1948-1968).
Oberholtzer discusses a wide range of topics and issues, including his early life, education, family and friends, work and travels. The interviews focus on his conservation work, including the establishment of the Quetico-Superior National Forest.
MHS call number: OH 81; see the blue Oral History Notebooks for interview description sheets (there are 21 90-minute tapes and 1 60-minute tape). Eight interviews have been transcribed; a detailed overview with links to the actual transcripts is available.
- Sigurd F. Olson Papers.
This archival collection (1920s-1989) contains correspondence, graduate school papers, published and unpublished literary manuscripts, book drafts and publication proofs, film scripts, a bio-bibliography, maps, photographs, research notes, subject files, minutes, speeches and lecture material, schedules, newspaper and magazine clippings, reports, surveys, land use studies and proposals, newsletters, and other printed material related to the literary career and environmental advocacy of Sigurd F. Olson, one of Minnesota's leading outdoor writers and wilderness preservationists. The papers include information on Olson's involvement with various conservation organizations, particularly the National Park Service, the National Parks Association, the President's Quetico-Superior Committee, the Friends of the Wilderness, the Izaak Walton League of America, and the Wilderness Society, as well as his role in issues related to the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area are exceptionally well detailed.
MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks—filed alphabetically under Olson, Sigurd F.—for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 83 boxes), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
- Quetico-Superior Council Records.
This archival collection (1906-1967) includes the records of the council's origins, administration, programs, conservation philosophies, and efforts, and consist of correspondence, scrapbooks, publications, memoranda, reports, speeches, financial records, clippings, and other materials documenting the history of an organization established in 1928 to work for the preservation of wilderness areas in the Rainy Lake and Pigeon River watersheds of northern Minnesota and Ontario. Some of this area is now part of the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota and Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario.
MHS call number: P34; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks for a detailed list of boxes (there are 129 boxes), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
- United States, Forest Service, Superior National Forest Records.
This archival collection (1903-1969) contains correspondence, reports, maps, clippings, memoranda, and federal bills and documents selected from the files of the Superior National Forest office in Duluth, documenting the forest's expansion, consolidation, management and use policies, and general history. Management Files (approximately 8 reels of microfilm) concentrate on administration of the "roadless areas" that eventually became the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, including automobile and aircraft trespass, timber cutting, road construction, establishment of primitive and wild areas, water levels, and motorized watercraft. Also included are files on regulation of international boundary waters and relations with adjoining Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.
MHS call number: M211; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks for a detailed list of contents (there are 17 reels of microfilm, but not all relate to this topic).
Note: Microfilm may be borrowed on Interlibrary Loan.
- United States. President's Quetico-Superior Committee Records.
This archival collection (1927-1987) includes correspondence, minutes, printed materials, newspaper clippings, newsletters and news releases, maps, and legal files documenting the many activities of a committee established on June 30, 1934, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order No. 6783, to deal directly with U.S. government agencies in matters relating to conservation, preservation, and use of wilderness lands in northeastern Minnesota. The committee worked closely with the Quetico-Superior Council, a private organization sharing the same goals. The records also include materials produced by other closely affiliated organizations.
MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks—filed alphabetically under United States, President's Quetico-Superior Committee—for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 18 boxes and 1 oversize folder), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
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- Check the library catalog for other materials.