||Born in Humboldt Park, Chicago, on April 4.
||Family moves to Sister Bay, Wis., on the
rugged Door County Peninsula.
||Family moves to Prentice, a logging town in
north central Wisconsin.
||Family moves to Ashland, Wis., on the edge of
||Sigurd attends Northland College in Ashland;
works during the summers at a farm in Seeley, Wis., owned by Soren
||Sigurd attends the University of Wisconsin in
Madison, earns undergraduate degree in agriculture.
||Sigurd teaches animal husbandry, agricultural
botany and geology in the high schools of the neighboring northern
Minnesota towns of Nashwauk and Keewatin.
||Sigurd takes his first canoe trip in June; the
Nashwauk (Minn.) Herald publishes
article he wrote about the trip on July 22. A nearly identical
version of the article is also published on July 31 by the Milwaukee
Journal. Sigurd marries Elizabeth Dorothy Uhrenholdt on
August 8. Their honeymoon is a
three-week canoe trip.
||Sigurd starts graduate program in geology at
the University of Wisconsin in Madison; Elizabeth helps with
finances by teaching elementary school in Hayward, Wis.
||In January Elizabeth learns she is pregnant;
Sigurd drops out of school and lands a job teaching high school
biology in Ely, Minn., at the edge of the canoe country wilderness.
They move there in February. During the summer, Sigurd finds work as
a canoe trip guide, which he continues doing every summer throughout
the 1920s. Sigurd and Elizabeth become parents on September 15, when
Sigurd Thorne Olson is born.
||Robert Keith Olson is born on December 23.
Sigurd is involved in the first battle over the canoe country
wilderness, a conflict over proposals to build roads into previously
||In September, the U.S. Secretary of
Agriculture ends the current canoe country conflict by allowing two
major roads to be built, and by creating three wilderness areas
within Superior National Forest. Meanwhile, Sigurd begins splitting
his teaching duties between Ely High School and Ely Junior College.
At the junior college, he teaches animal biology and human
||In November Field and Stream publishes
Sigurd's first magazine article,
||Sigurd and two other men found the Border
Lakes Outfitting Co. As manager, Sigurd spends less of his time
guiding than in the past. He manages the company until the
mid-1940s, and maintains partial ownership until 1951.
||In the fall of 1931, the Olsons move to
Champaign, Ill., so Sigurd can earn a master's degree in zoology at
the University of Illinois. Sigurd works under Victor Shelford, the
nation's leading animal ecologist. He earns his degree in June 1932,
after completing a thesisthe first of its kindon the
timber wolf. The Olsons move back to Ely, and Sigurd begins teaching
full time at Ely Junior College.
||In May and June, Sports Afield
publishes Sigurd's two-part article
for the Wild," his first article fully devoted to
||Sigurd becomes dean of Ely Junior College.
||In September American Forests
publishes Sigurd's article "Why Wilderness?" Superior
National Forest's three wilderness areas, recently enlarged, are
renamed the Superior Roadless Areas.
||Sigurd begins a syndicated newspaper column, "America
Out of Doors." It lasts until 1944, then, like many syndicated
columns of the time, it dies as government wartime restrictions on
newsprint force newspapers to cut back.[Click
here for links to 27 of the columns that he wrote during this
||In June, Sigurd heads to Europe for a year as
a a civilian employee of the Army. He teaches GIs waiting to be
shipped back to America, and is an official observer at the
||Sigurd resigns as dean of Ely Junior College
to devote full time to his writing.
||Sigurd spearheads fight to ban airplanes from
the wilderness canoe country near his home. It is a
precedent-setting, successful battle, and brings Sigurd national
recognition in conservation circles. [For more information, see the
month-by-month accounts beginning with
||Sigurd becomes vice-president of the National
becomes president of the National Parks Association.
||The year begins with Sigurd signing
his first book contract,
with Alfred A. Knopf. In the summer, Sigurd and a group of prominent
Canadian friends spend several weeks paddling the wild
Churchill River in
Saskatchewan, one of a handful of
rugged trips they would take together.
Singing Wilderness is published in April, shortly after
Sigurd's 57th birthday. It becomes a New York Times
bestseller. In the summer, the Wilderness Society
elects Sigurd to its
governing council. Sigurd is among the conservation leaders
working on drafts of a
to establish a national wilderness preservation system.
Point is published; the Superior Roadless Areas are
renamed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
as president of the National Parks Association, and joins the
advisory board of the National Park Service. He remains on the board
Lonely Land is published.
||Sigurd becomes a consultant on wilderness and
national park matters for Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall.
of the North is published; Sigurd becomes
vice-president of the Wilderness
||In July, 65-year-old Sigurd embarks on his
last major canoe expedition, a
voyage from Lake
Winnipeg to Hudson Bay along the Nelson and Hayes rivers. In
September, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the
establishing the national wilderness preservation system.
||Sigurd is part of a National Park Service task
force that recommends preserving nearly 80 million acres of land in
Alaska. Fearing a political
firestorm, the agency buries the report, but the work behind
it ultimately bears fruit in the Alaska National Interest Lands and
Conservation Act of 1980.
||Sigurd becomes president of the Wilderness
Society. In November, he suffers
a major heart attack during the society's annual meeting at
Sanibel Island, Florida.
Horizons and The
Hidden Forest are published.
resigns as president of the Wilderness Society, citing his
health and desire to write. President Nixon signs into law the
act establishing Voyageurs
National Park in northern Minnesota; Sigurd had played an
important role as an advocate of the park since the early 1960s, and
he also gave the park its name. Also in 1971, a new elementary
school in the Minneapolis suburb of Golden Valley is named after
Days is published; the
Sigurd Olson Environmental
Institute is established at Northland College in Ashland, Wis.
||The highest honor in nature writing, the
John Burroughs Medal, is
presented to Sigurd.
||Reflections From the North Country is published.
||Sigurd is hanged in effigy in his home town of
Ely, Minn., during debates about the status of the Boundary Waters
||President Jimmy Carter signs the law granting
full wilderness status to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness,
more than fifty years after Sigurd Olson's first efforts to protect
||In December, Sigurd undergoes successful
surgery for colon cancer. However, he never fully regains his
||On January 13, Sigurd dies of a heart attack
while showshoeing near his home. Of Time and Place is
||Elizabeth Olson dies of heart failure on
August 23, at the age of 96.