In the Fall of 1969, Rick Ranson and John Van Landeghem, both barely out of high school, took on the might of the Red and Mississippi Rivers to paddle a canoe from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to New Orleans, Louisiana. Combining high drama with hilarity, Ranson tells how the duo, ducked bullets in St. Louis, avoided a whirlpool, worked on a Mississippi tow boat, sailed a yacht through a barge congested Cairo, IL, and spent a few days in the Fargo City Jail, while meeting an eclectic array of unforgettable characters. Paddling South tells the incredible tale of how they survived the three month trip on the often treacherous rivers, beset by snow storms, hurricanes, monstrous waves, and unseen dams.
A natural-born raconteur, Rick Ranson, the third child in a family of six children, was raised by an enthusiastic, story-telling Royal Canadian Air Force Captain, and grew up in military bases across Canada, from Vancouver to Labrador. When he was 16, Ranson followed his wanderlust and hitchhiked from Winnipeg through the US to Toronto, and then from Winnipeg to Mexico, before surviving a canoe trip from Winnipeg to New Orleans. Today Ranson spends his time living between Winnipeg, MB, and Key West, Florida.
Ranson has worked as a longshoreman, a drill ship’s welder, a boilermaker, a farm equipment salesman, an editor for McGraw Hill, a forklift operator, a business owner, and now a published author. Ranson has contributed to several publications, including The Cottager Magazine, Gam on Yachting, Western Producer, and The Herald. He is also the author of Working North DEW Line to Drill Ship, which chronicles the eight years Ranson spent working as a welder in the Canadian Arctic. Paddling South: Winnipeg to New Orleans by Canoe was released in October 2007 and was shortlisted for the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction at the Manitoba Book Awards. Paddling South was translated and published in Germany in 2009. Rick's latest book, Bittersweet Sands: Twenty-Four Days in Fort McMurray, was released in Fall 2014.