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The Memory of Water

Allen Smutylo

Life Writing Series


Hardcover 272 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-842-8

Release Date: January 2013

Online discount: 25%

$39.99  $29.99



ISBN13: 978-1-55458-877-0

Release Date: June 2014

Online discount: 50%

$39.99  $20.00


Shortlisted for the 2014 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction (Winner to be announced in September 2014)
Finalist for the 2013 Governor General's Award in Non-fiction
Finalist in the Adventure Travel Category of the 2013 Banff Mountain Book Competition


Over the last forty years, Canadian adventurer, writer, and artist Allen Smutylo has experienced some of the wildest and most captivating waters imaginable in all corners of the globe. The stories in The Memory of Water—all of them accompanied by the author’s own stunning artwork—describe his adventures in the Arctic, South Pacific, Great Lakes region, and India.

In the Arctic he is attacked by a polar bear, stalked by a rogue walrus, and nearly drowns in ferocious waters. But his Arctic stories also celebrate human creativity as they recount the life of the pre-Inuit people, who, hunting in a changing environment, endured many hardships and developed new technologies, such as the sea kayak, to cope.

Other stories include an account of a sojourn in a small Georgian Bay fishing village as a young artist, an adventure on an urban river in southwestern Ontario, and a portrayal of the complex underwater world of the South Pacific. Travelling the River Ganges in India, the author finds that a massive misuse of water is complicated by a billion people’s faith-based adoration of the same water.

The Memory of Water probes a crucial and contemporary issue—that of our relationship to water and the wildlife and human life that depends upon it. This book will appeal to anyone interested in the natural world, in artistic depictions of it, or in a good story well told.

For the past thirty years Allen Smutylo’s artwork and writing have been based on extensive travelling to some of the most remote areas in the world, including the Canadian High Arctic, Greenland, Antarctica, Patagonia, the Amazon, the Himalaya, and Rajasthan. The paintings and writings from these experiences have garnered a large following and numerous awards both nationally and internationally.


“This poetic and gently sublime book takes us on a journey of discovery of ‘our home wrapped in water.’ Smutylo’s is an odyssey of wonder and exploration encompassing the High Arctic and Greenland, Maui and Varanasi, and a picturesque river valley in southwestern Ontario. By combining a deep respect for what he sees and senses, and an appreciation for what he shares in common with the worlds he explores, Smutylo casts us on our own water-borne voyages through memories and experiences, places and cultures that ebb and flow in our consciousness, defining our sense of place and self as passengers on this drop of water called ‘Earth’ in the vast sea of constellations.”

— Tom Smart, author, curator, columnist and special advisor to art galleries and publishers across Canada. Author of Jack Chambers’ Red and Green (forthcoming 2013)