Charles Gledden Burnham (Nick) Nickels (1906 – 1987)

Among recent generations, people might lament the passing of the pioneer spirit that created this country. Truth is, that pioneer spirit has always carried on. Today it may look or sound different, but it continues in those who revere their roots, and the land in which they’re rooted.

The work of Nick Nickels is a prime flowering of these pioneer roots.

Born into the Burnham family, whose generations go deep in settling Peterborough, Nick’s youth is steeped in a genuine love of nature. An administrative job with an airline hooked him on the beauty of the Canadian North and its people. His natural affinity for storytelling led him to a long association with the Peterborough Examiner as a photojournalist. Under Robertson Davies’ tutelage, he honed his craft and was afforded the opportunity for a ceaseless curiosity to bloom.

From 1957 to his life’s end, Nick wrote, photographed and freelanced. His stories and photos graced the pages of countless newspapers and magazines. With charm and humour, he piqued the interest of Canadians in themselves and the land upon which they lived. Nick authored 10 books on outdoor life and local history. His “Canoe Canada” remains the bible for every serious and aspiring canoeist.

The gift Nick Nickels gave to us is a timeless gift of pioneer spirit. To respect, and love the land and her inhabitants, is to be constantly enveloped in awe, and wonder.

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