The Wilderness Canoe Symposium hosted in Toronto featuring Mike Ranta, Jon Turk, and Chris/John Lepard20170224.  Photo/David Jackson
The Wilderness Canoe Symposium hosted in Toronto featuring Mike Ranta, Jon Turk, and Chris/John Lepard20170224. Photo/David Jackson

Best of the Wilderness & Canoe Symposium: Jon Turk

Words and Photos by David Jackson

Jumping from one corner of the podium to the other, pulling away in arm gestures and catching the audience’s attention with his eyes, Jon Turk continued to silence the crowd with tales of polar bears and shamans, of arctic storms and being swept to sea. The seasoned adventurer held his space over the captivated crowd clad in ascots and worn-down wool, sporting moccasins and clutching thermoses of tea. Turk was among welcome company as everyone in attendance poured over his next word, feeding off his energy as he set the stage for a weekend of reminiscing in the halls of adventure, a joyous celebration of far away stories at the Wilderness & Canoe Symposium.

The real joy is finding a moment with the candid Turk away from lectern. If tall tales were expected to dominate the conversation, one would be let down by Turk’s humble sincerity, his beaming joy for life becoming ever more apparent in each passing second. He'll recall sticking his nose in the fresh mud alongside his canine after a winter’s slumber. Smelling the wet, muddy earth, the subtle signs of an early spring, and then relating it back to the simple joys associated with a life spent out of doors.

If movement is the secret to Turk’s life, then he might urge the importance of his continued pursuits of moderate scale. Hiking in the mountains, backcountry ski touring, hoping into boats with friends and watching the sunset. The 71-year-old Turk is proof that if every moment in between our greatest success is thoroughly enjoyed, then we will find our deepest meaning in life. So listen to his talks of far away places, dream on his harrowing tales, but don't look past the simple message: Find joy in the journey, for it is there where Turk found happiness.

— Watch Turk’s presentation below from the 2017 Wilderness & Canoe Symposium.

— Check out a review of ‘Crocodiles and Ice’, read an exclusive excerpt, plus more on Turk.

The stage at the 2017 Wilderness Canoe Symposium hosted in Toronto.

— Read the first installment of 'The Best of the Wilderness & Canoe Symposium' on Chris Lepard, and stay tuned for the next as David Jackson profiles presenter Mike Ranta.

— See more past symposium presentations on the WCS site, with info on the 2018 event, Feb. 23-34 in Toronto.