Sunday, May 09, 2010

"Eyes on the Wilderness" by Helmut Hirnschall

Eyes on the Wilderness is a treasure from a simpler time. It's hardback and available only in used bookstores or online. has it for $19.95 plus shipping, but I found it for $5.00 in one of my favourite used book haunts.

Helmut Hirnschall was born in Austria and immigrated to Canada at 27 in 1960. Austria had few wilderness areas even then, so Helmut was enthralled with all the natural surroundings in Ontario where he settled. First on foot, and then by kayak, he explored the lakes, forests and rivers whenever his work schedule allowed.

In Eyes on the Wilderness, Helmut uses the animals he encountered as the vehicle to introduce the reader to his new life in Canada. They range from the lowly (but powerful) Blackfly to the mighty Black Bear. You can hear the hoot of the night owl, trills of the many songbirds and lonely cry of the loon through his vivid descriptions. Each animal story includes a personal anecdote about its discovery, a biological description and First Nation legends.

This book is recommended for both children and adults. I can imagine reading it as a young teen while on a camping trip exploring the outdoors for myself. As a adult and a new Canadian immigrant myself, it was interesting to see how someone else became acquainted with his new and exciting home. So if you would like to step back in time, and get back to the wilderness, keep an eye out for Helmut Hirnschall's Eyes on the Wilderness (Hancock House, 1975) at a used bookstore near you. -- Margy


  1. This is a great read plus Helmut also collaborated on a couple of books with Chief Dan George, also great reads.
    Happy Mothers' Day Margy!

  2. Thanks for the info!

  3. Thanks for the tip Carolyn. When I wrote the review I saw that on a website. Chief Dan George also wrote an introduction for him in this book. - Margy