Thoreau gives an account of three canoe and hiking journeys - by himself and with others - through the mostly uninhabited forests of Maine in the 1850s. Identifying birds, trees and plants by their botanical as well as their common names, he also records the Indian names of lakes, rivers and plants. He investigates the connections between waterways and trails, and provides detail on camping, fishing and hunting in the woods, using whatever is at hand. Extolling the beauty of the wilds that he encounters, Thorough’s narrative is also imbued with elements of his philosophy.
In 1839, two years after graduating from Harvard, Henry David Thoreau and his older brother, John, took a boat-and-hiking trip from Concord, Massachusetts, to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. After John's sudden death in 1842, Thoreau began to prepare a memorial account of their excursion during his stay at Walden Pond. Modern listeners have come to see Thoreau's story of the river journey as an appropriate predecessor to Walden, depicting the early years of his spiritual and artistic growth.
An Excursion to Canada is a remarkable work by Thoreau, very different from his other works. Here he becomes an American traveler who shows far greater respect for America than Canada, while explaining the details of the chasm between the Church (Black) and the soldiers (Red) in Quebec that Stendhal pointed out in The Red and the Black in France. Something like DeTocqueville's Democracy in America, but here Canada is the country under the microscope.
Very similar in style to Walden, and in fact written while he stayed at Walden Pond, this account chronicles Throeau's 1830 boat trip. In it, he weaves together travel writing, essays on religion, history, and lyrical poetry, as well as his own unique philosophy.