Cover image for Keeper of the wild : the life of Ernest Oberholtzer
Keeper of the wild : the life of Ernest Oberholtzer
Paddock, Joe.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
St. Paul, MN : Minnesota Historical Society Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xvii, 322 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
1. Out of the vast unknown -- 2. The Harvard years -- 3. Travel with Conrad Aiken -- 4. The three-thousand-mile summer -- 5. Photographing moose with Billy Magee -- 6. Travel and work in Europe -- 7. To the end of the Earth -- 8. A race against winter -- 9. In search of Atisokan -- 10. Rainy Lake living -- 11. A mission of transcendent importance -- 12. The Rainy Lake reference -- 13. The program -- 14. Entering the political arena -- 15. Political maneuvering -- 16. The Shipstead-Nolan Act -- 17. Return to Harvard -- 18. Tragedy and triumph -- 19. The mallard spreads its wings -- 20. Friendship with the Ojibwe -- 21. Legend.
Added Corporate Author:
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH31.O23 P34 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Ernest Oberholtzer (1884-1977) is one of the great unsung heroes of the American conservation movement of the twentieth century. Selected as one of the 100 influential Minnesotans of the twentieth century by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a friend and contemporary of both Aldo Leopold and Sigurd Olson, and one of founders of The Wilderness Society, "Ober" was best known for his pioneering work to preserve one of the last remaining wilderness areas east of the Rockies--the Quetico-Superior region of northern Minnesota and southern Ontario.

The long campaign by Ober and many others to preserve this area made a significant and lasting impression on conservation and wilderness preservation efforts around the world. Keeper of the Wild is the first book to document and explore the life of the man who led the fight to save the area that eventually became Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (today the most visited wilderness area in the United States), and the successful effort to preserve Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario as a protected wilderness area.

Drawing on a lifetime of notebooks, letters, and speeches, as well as interviews with the people who knew him best, Paddock maps Ober's transformation from a daring young outdoorsman and adventurer to an equally fierce defender of our country's disappearing wilderness areas.

Along with his desire to preserve the natural beauty of the boundary waters, Ober was also committed to preserving the culture of the native peoples of the northern wilderness. He befriended and traveled with them, learned to speak Ojibwe fluently, and began a life-long study of the legends and oral tradition of their culture. Because of his efforts on their behalf, the Ojibwe called him "Atisokan," meaning "legend" or "teller-of-legends."

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Paddock offers the first biography of pioneering 20th-century environmentalist Ernest Carl Oberholzer (1884-1977). Born in Davenport, Iowa, he was raised by his strong-willed mother after she divorced Oberholzer's father. Oberholzer remained close to her until her death in 1929. After graduating from Harvard in 1907, he briefly studied landscape architecture with Frederick Law Olmsted. After 1915, and despite limited means, Oberholzer dedicated himself to preserving millions of acres of wilderness in the Quetico-Superior region of northern Minnesota and southern Ontario. He also became an authority on Ojibwe language and culture. As president of the Quetico-Superior Council, Oberholzer and his colleagues helped bring about passage of the Shipstead-Nolan bill in 1930, which first established wilderness values for federal lands. Oberholzer also chaired the Quetico-Superior Committee, created by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934. A Canadian counterpart was created in 1949. Oberholzer's efforts helped bring about the creation of Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Voyageurs National Park, and Quetico Provincial Park. He was a founder of the Wilderness Society in 1935, but this topic is relegated to a single short footnote. Instead, the book focuses on Oberholzer's personality and is largely based on oral histories and his personal papers. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through professionals. K. B. Sterling formerly, Pace University