A young Indian boy carves a little canoe with a figure inside and names him Paddle-to-the-Sea. Paddle's journey, in text and pictures, through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean provides an excellent geographic and historical picture of the region.When I was in school one of the teachers showed us the movie version of Paddle-to-the-Sea. At first I thought it was kind of dumb watching a kid carve a canoe and I probably wasn't paying complete attention. Then suddenly, the canoe slid down the hill and into the river and began its journey. I was transfixed and transformed and all those other cliches. Ever since then the movie has had a powerful hold on my imagination, though not in the forefront of my mind until I found out that you can see it in Google Earth.
The COSEE Great Lakes web site allows you to download a kml file and explore it, chapter by chapter. Here are the beginning chapters from the Nipigon River region of Ontario.
The book itself is worth re-reading or even purchasing. I took a nicely worn copy of it out of the library. Here is an image of the main map from the book taken from SecretPlans.
In addition to the geography lessons, the book also diagrams a sawmill, a canal lock, a lake freighter and several other industrial processes that take place in the Great Lakes region. It also has diagrams that morph the lakes into recognizable shapes long before morphing became fashionable. Lake Superior is morphed into a wolf's head, while Huron becomes a trapper carrying a pack of furs.The maps also show the birthplace of the Dionne Quintuplets - this must have been a big story for the pre-octomom era.