Thursday, December 12, 2013
There are many Maine woodsmen who have stories to tell of backwoods adventures, but few have been telling their stories in articles, movies and books for 60 years.
Paul Fournier, the former spokesperson for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, will share his varied and rugged adventures at a presentation on his book at the Maine State Museum Wednesday. The talk concludes the Friends of Maine State Museum's 2012 series at the museum.
Fournier's book, "Tales from Misery Ridge, One Man's Adventures in the Great Outdoors," covers a huge chunk of Maine's outdoor history. It was named the best book of 2011 by the New England Outdoor Writers Association.
And while other Maine outdoor explorers have turned backwoods careers into books, Fournier's is chock-full of stories from several rugged and amusing careers.
The Jay native began his career in the Maine Woods as a Registered Maine Guide at age 18. He went on to work as a bush pilot, a campground owner, a television production director, and the state's fish and game department spokesman.
From life near Moosehead Lake at his sporting camp, believed to be the area's first public campground, to his time as sports editor at the Bath Daily Times and his 10-year stint running a film production company, to his travels around the state for 15 years with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Fournier has seen and written about virtually every corner of Maine.
"I was very fortunate. I hit it good with a guiding job at Upper and Lower Richardson, where back in the late 1800s there were world-famous trout, trout up to 12 pounds. There is a lot of history there. I was really fortunate to work at Lakewoods Camps," Fournier said. "In my estimation the Rapid River is the most beautiful, gorgeous river in Maine. And I've seen them all."
And for most of 60 years, Fournier has written about his travels and adventures for Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, Yankee, Down East, and the Christian Science Monitor.
"Many people know his writing, many people around Maine," said Sheila McDonald, the museum's interim director.
Fournier also produced films and documentaries for the state and outdoor organizations. He made a documentary about Sugarloaf and the ski industry in its early years, and chronicled the state's effort to reintroduce caribou from Newfoundland into Maine.
"The caribou transfer, well, we almost lost our lives coming across on the ferry. It was below zero with hurricane-force winds. We came within a hair's breadth of going down to visit the Titanic people," Fournier said.
His articles now are part of a collection at the Maine State Museum. And Fournier, at 83, is still writing. His second book by Islandport Press is expected out later this year.
"The primary interest all through my life has always been wildlife. Some of my earliest writing, it's natural history writing," Fournier said. "People always ask me how I went from being a backwoods guide to writing and running a film production company. It all started in a little town called Jay where I grew up, and where I set the record for playing hooky. I feel like I'm still playing hooky."
Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org