Wise Words: The Way I Look At It

A French River sunset with boat
A French River Sunset near Okikendawt Island . Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Recently I was sorry to learn of the death of Leonard Dokis.

By all accounts Leonard was a highly respected and well-loved member of the Dokis First Nation.

He served two terms as Chief of Dokis First Nation, had been a Councillor for over 40 years and had done much in these capacities and in other ways to serve his community.

He was also an Advisor to the Board of the French River Provincial Park.

Over the years Leonard also worked variously as a fishing and hunting guide, gravel truck and bulldozer operator, logger, game warden and fire chief. Leonard ran the Migisi Fish Hatchery for the Dokis First Nation for 15 years with the help of volunteers from Dokis.

A Lasting Impression

Leonard Dokis managed to leave an impression even on me, depsite never having met him.

There is a modern, yet charming interpretive centre on the edge of the French River Provincial Park, run by Ontario Parks. The centre contains numerous displays explaining the geology, history, nature, human history and culture of the French River. Some of these displays are interactive, including recordings of local people telling stories.

One had struck a chord with me on my first visit to the centre several years ago. On a more recent trip I made a recording of my own using my camera.

It contains what I consider to be some wise words about our relationship with nature, how we need to slow down to see more and the impressions we leave behind.

Click the play button below to listen.

The man speaking is Leonard Dokis.

[audio: https://frontierbushcraft.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/The-Way-I-Look-At-It.mp3 | titles=The Way I Look At It (mp3)]
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Paul Kirtley is Founder and Chief Instructor of Frontier Bushcraft. He has had a lifelong passion for the great outdoors and gains great satisfaction from helping others enjoy it too. Paul writes the UK's leading bushcraft blog. He is the author of Wilderness Axe Skills and Campcraft, as well as having contributed to several other books. Paul has been involved in teaching bushcraft since 2003. He is also a Canoe Leader, British Canoeing Level 3 Canoe Coach and UK Summer Mountain Leader.

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10 Responses

  1. Ed Cocker
    | Reply

    This was great, I really feel what this chap is saying. What a life of experiences. (Even though it is a bit like a scene from Apocalypse Now! )

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Ed, I’m glad it resonated with you too.

      All the best,


  2. Bart Leenders
    | Reply

    Dear Paul, thank you for sharing these wise words from Leonard Dokis. It reminds me of the strolls through the woods with my kids. Because of their slow pace, I experience these woods that I thought I knew so well much better.

    Cheers, Bart

    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Bart,

      Thanks for your comment. That’s such a lovely way of looking at the world. Slowing down to a pace where you take in the detail enrichens your experience of nature so much.

      Warm regards,


  3. David Atreides
    | Reply

    Why do we lose many folk, who are wise like leonard ? Sounds like a good person who cared for his people and his environment. I would have loved to sit round a fire and listen to him speak all night.. Such a lost to see him pass away. The world is less enriched with his passing

  4. Nige
    | Reply

    Very wise words indeed, expressed my feelings exactly!

    I like to think that I am always attentive and aware of my surroundings when out in the canoe, or not afloat in fact. My canoe paddling is usually made up of small trips and not particularly adventurous but aware of the time I have to paddle with me it’s never about the mileage. I have often been out for hours and only managed a couple of miles if that as I spend most of the time looking and listening, gazing aloft or peering into the woods trying to glimpse something new while I drift idly by, often not really paddling at all. It does not have to be in a particularly wild, remote or a place of scenic splendour either; simply slowing down and taking the time to look and enjoy , many places, even those that may appear at first glance unappealing, have their own unique interest, beauty and charm.

    Rattled on a bit, sorry!


    • Paul Kirtley
      | Reply

      Hi Nige,

      “simply slowing down and taking the time to look and enjoy , many places, even those that may appear at first glance unappealing, have their own unique interest, beauty and charm.”

      Nicely put. 🙂



  5. Buck
    | Reply

    It is often the most difficult of things for me to make the first imprint in fresh snow, as it seems to desecrate nature’s beauty; then, as I look around, and see rabbit trails, bird prints and other signs, I am confident that I too am part of nature, so, like Leonard said, make sure your first step is chosen carefully as it will show who you are.

  6. Dave Howard
    | Reply

    Hi Paul,
    Many thanks for making the time to share these profound and wise words. Thinking back to when I used to live in the middle of nowhere, in my spare time I often walked for hours and did not cover much distance at all. It was on those days that I received the most from nature, and learned the most about it.
    All the best, Dave.

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