Back River Conversations

The Wisdom of the Solo Canoe

by Robert Perkins

“It’s risky to travel alone, especially in a wilderness,
but it’s equally risky to have dreams,
and not follow them.”

Two conversations on the Great Fish River &  The Back River:

  • Saturday March 27 and Saturday April 3, 1:00 pm (Mountain Standard Time)

From his new book, When it gets Dark Enough, You can See the Stars. Join this consummate storyteller for two 90 minute conversations. Over sixteen summers, Robert Perkins canoed solo north of Yellowknife on the Great Fish River…the tundra… dangerous …exotic… exciting. Saving the wild in us, and in nature, takes both science and stories from the heart.

Register now and get the link in advance to see his PBS specials filmed on the Great Fish River: Into the Great Solitude and Talking to Angels.  


More about the two conversations on the Great Fish River & the Back River.

“Both conversations are about different aspects of the same river….. the Great Fish River; on the map called the Back River. It’s the only northern river flowing only through tundra to the arctic ocean. It’s 560 miles long. There are no towns, and few travel there. Most canoeists paddle a different river each season, but I made the choice in 1971 to paddle the same river. As the poet Rilke says in Letters to a Young Poet, if you fear something go toward your fear, make it your friend. Initially, traveling alone was terrifying….all that water, those miles, and no one around. There were bears, rapids, my own possible mistakes….but over the years, as I canoeed the river multiple times, and its tributaries, I fell in love with the watershed and solo travel. It’s never been the same river twice.

As I find the river endlessly interesting, I hope to make it come alive for you. The PBS films viewed before the conversations provide context for many who do not know me. The films raise their own questions, especially Talking to Angels…. my favorite. During the question and answer period we can go as deep as you like …. technically, or poetically. If life is what happens between the facts, there is a lot to talk about.”


Praise for Robert Perkins:
“Dear Rob, If I could be a symphony that would cover all the expressible and inexpressible, I’d be up to writing you the letter that I’d like to. Your work is out of this world, drawn out of this-worldness and a love of it, drawn towards a point beyond which offers a perspective. Heart-breaking, spirit-leveling, true to life. As Frost said, strongly spent is synonymous with kept. .”— Seamus Heaney, poet and Nobel Laureate

For more information about Robert Perkins, Please visit the website: