Brook Trout and Blackflies: A Book Review

In this wonderful age that we live in, we have easy access to all types of information right at our fingertips.  If you want to plan a trip, you can effortlessly do so from your phone or home computer.  There are hundreds of sites dedicated to providing detailed trip logs and there are message boards swimming with anonymous people just waiting to throw in their two cents.  Despite these resources I always find myself returning to the ‘good ole days’ before the internet had such a strong presence in our lives.  Believe it or not, I have a bookshelf in my house and on that bookshelf are actual books.  One such book on this shelf that I always seem to gravitate towards is Kevin Callan’s Brook Trout and Blackflies.

One of the reasons that I am so fond of this particular book is because of the nostalgic factor that it has.  I remember in my younger years, my father had a copy of this book.  I recall leafing through the pages and being inspired by the stories within the book.  Algonquin Park seemed so distant and foreign but at the same time very much accessible.  It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that I really started to explore Algonquin’s Backcountry, but the leg work for many of these trips were laid out in Mr. Callan’s book. 

Brook Trout and Blackflies is a beautiful blend of information guide book and personal stories and accounts.  The focus of the book is exclusive to Algonquin Park and covers 20 of The Park’s most popular routes along with a few hidden gems.  Routes include Canoe Lake, Lake Louisa, Dividing Lake, the Upper and Lower Petawawa River, the infamous Brent Run and my personal favourite The Barron Canyon. 

Each trip is broken down to include important trip details like how to get there, helpful tips to fully enjoy your trip and personal stories of Kevin Callan’s own trips; most of which have a rather humourous element to them.  Maps are included for each route along with trip planning information like how many days the trip should take, the number of portages, their lengths and the difficulty level of the route. 

20 years after it’s initial publication, some of the information is dated and inaccurate.  Some quick fact checking can confirm the essential details and if nothing else, the reader is treated to fun personal experiences that they can live vicariously through; even if for only a few minutes.        

Kevin Callan is the author is over 10 books specific to paddling and camping in the Ontario area.  He is a frequent guest on Canadian radio and television shows and teaches at Sir Sanford Fleming College.  He engages in speaking tours and is widely considered the foremost name in paddling and camping in Ontario. 

Today Brook Trout and Blackflies is published under the title “A Paddler’s Guide to Algonquin Park”.  I guess that it is a far more intuitive title and is much more marketable, but to me I will always refer to it by it’s original title.  And anyone who visits The Park in the spring will understand the titles meaning instantly!     

My original copy of Brook Trout and Blackflies has long been lost.  It was packed while moving and never recovered.  That dog eared, pencil marked copy is long gone, but a recently purchased used copy has brought me many great memories and I have started reading these great tales to my 6 month old daughter.  While it doesn’t mean anything to her, it means a lot to me and hopefully she will carry my love for Algonquin Park into the next generation.

Find it HERE at

Kevin Callan’s Twitter Feed: HERE

Kevin Callan’s YouTube page: HERE

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