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Biography & Autobiography Survival

A Life in the Bush

Lessons from My Father

by (author) Roy MacGregor

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Apr 2007
Survival, Personal Memoirs, Adventurers & Explorers
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2007
    List Price

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Winner of

The CAA–Birks Family Foundation Award for Biography
The 2000 Ottawa-Carlton Book Award
The (U.S.) Rutstrum Award for Best Wilderness Book
In 1929, at the age of twenty-two, Duncan MacGregor, the son of a lumberman, great-grandson of a voyageur, and an avid reader and baseball fan, headed off into the largest tract of preserved bush in the world: Ontario’s Algonquin Park. When he got there, he was home for the rest of his life.

From the true nature of fishing to the harsh realities of raising a family in the woods, from the role of fear in the bush to the small nuances of family relationships, A Life in the Bush is painted on a canvas both vast and richly detailed. A story that captures the tough physical demands, the rich life of the senses, and the unselfconscious freedom that comes from living apart from town and city.

In this beautifully crafted memoir of his father, Roy MacGregor paints an intimate portrait of an unusual man and spins a spellbinding tale of a boy’s complex relationship with his father. He also evokes, perhaps for the first time in Canadian literature, the bush the way bush people see it, an insider's view of life in the totemic Canadian wilderness.

About the author

In the fall of 2006, Roy MacGregor, veteran newspaperman, magazine writer, and author of books, came to campus. Since 2002, MacGregor had been writing columns for the Globe and Mail, but he had a long and distinguished career in hand before he came to the national newspaper. He has won National Newspaper Awards and in 2005 was named an officer in the Order of Canada. He is the author of more than 40 books — 28 of them in the internationally successful Screech Owls mystery series for young readers — on subjects ranging from Canada, to the James Bay Cree, to hockey. That fall, he spoke to a packed room in the St. Thomas chapel. After the lecture, Herménégilde Chiasson, the Acadian poet, artist, and New Brunswick's Lieutenant Governor of the day, hosted a reception at the majestic Old Government House on the banks of the St. John River. MacGregor spent the evening surrounded by young journalists and the conversation continued late into the night. After all, there were more than three decades of stories to tell.

Roy MacGregor's profile page

Editorial Reviews


“A portrait of a true original.” —The Hamilton Spectator
A Life in the Bush is the kind of book most sons would wish to write about their fathers. It’s the kind of book I wish I could write about my dad—a man who was sometimes hard to live with, but is much harder to live without.” —Kitchener-Waterloo Record

“MacGregor interweaves Duncan MacGregor’s life as a logger in Algonquin Park, their father-son relationship, family history, the park and logging industry’s history, with a discourse on Canadian literature and an acute appreciation of the bush. Many threads to pull together, but the master weaver does it magnificently.” —Regina Sun

“No ordinary man, Dunc MacGregor will live on much longer by grace of this vivid, extraordinary book.” —Maclean’s

“[A Life in the Bush] is my favourite book by a Canadian this year.” —Edmonton Journal

“MacGregor has done a marvelous job of telling his story and in the wider tale of Algonquin Park has written a pivotal Canadian story. It is delicious reading, the kind of book that makes you want to find Roy MacGregor and shake his hand and thank him for getting it down on paper.” —The Gazette

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