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Mors Kochanski is a Polish Canadian bushcraft and wilderness survival instructor, naturalist, and author. He has acquired an international following and has instructed for both military and civilians in Canada, the US, the UK and Sweden. He is well known for saying, "The more you know, the less you carry."
|Occupation||Survival and wilderness skills instructor and author|
|Known for||Bushcraft and survival techniques|
The Kochanski family immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1938. Mors, the fifth of six children, was born in 1940. His mother named him "Morris" but, because of a misunderstanding due to her Polish accent, the midwife wrote "Mors" on the birth certificate. His father fought for the Polish military during the First World War, an experience left him with a strong desire to see his children educated, so that they might benefit from serving as officers. Mors' father felt his children would inevitably be conscripted for military service.
Mors was brought up on a relatively isolated farm in Saskatchewan. He spent most of his time working the farm and assisting his father, who had been a windmill carpenter in Poland. In his early school years, he walked or rode 7 miles to and from school on a bush road. This daily journey was a significant part of his education and the foundation for a lifetime of interest in nature.
In 1954 his parents moved to Prince Albert, one of the largest cities in the province. Freed from his farm chores, Mors made the public library his second home. He took particular interest in two books:
- An old Boy Scout manual: Mors lasted only one year as a Scout, due to disappointment in what he perceived as a lack of seriousness on the part of his fellow scouts and the Scout Master’s aversion to camp craft skills.
- The Ashley Book of Knots: Mors enlisted the help of the head librarian to order his own copy. Priced around $15 in 1952, it took him a long time to save enough money for purchase. So began a lifetime of collecting books on natural history, camping and survival skills that resulted in a personal library of thousands of titles.
Mors was a Sea Cadet for three years. He chose the Navy as a career and received a scholarship to the Canadian Services College, Royal Roads. While enrolled, he traveled by ship through the Panama Canal, in the summer of 1959. He was hospitalized for five weeks during his studies, predominantly due to a case of the mumps. This contributed to an honourable discharge in his second year after failing too many subjects on the way to his Chemical Engineering degree.
From 1960 to 1964 he took Arts and Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan. Rather than enrolling in curriculum courses, Mors took classes that were of interest to him, including anthropology, psychology, geology and writing. His lack of participation in a recognised degree program resulted in a suspension from the university after four years due to "a complete lack of direction."
After his departure from university, Mors resolved to become a specialist in outdoor subjects focused on wilderness living skills and the lifestyles of native peoples. However, he took many jobs before finding his opportunity to become an instructor, including concrete technician, geologist assistant, engineering technician, surveyor, social worker, and draughtsman, a job at which he updated the street plans of Prince Albert after the installation of gas mains. It was also around this time that he received a pilot’s license.
In 1968, Blue Lake Centre (near Hinton, Alberta) began operating outdoor education programs. Mors, now 28 years of age, offered his services. At the same time, he met his friend and mentor, Tom Roycraft. At the time, Tom was the senior civilian survival instructor at a Department of National Defence survival school.
During the 1970s Mors became an associate professor at the University of Alberta Faculty of Physical Education, editor of Alberta Wilderness Arts and Recreation magazine, and a freelancer for various agencies. In 1986, he was approached to write a book on survival and wilderness skills for the Canadian boreal forests which was originally titled Northern Bushcraft. The book became a Canadian bestseller. The original title 'Northern Bushcraft' was in reference to an earlier publication "Bushcraft" by Richard Harry Graves, which covered survival and wilderness living skills in the Australian environment. Eventually, the publishers later shortened the title to Bushcraft.
List of publications
- Wilderness Arts and Recreation Magazine (editor and author, with Tom Roycraft and Don Bright of Edson, Alberta) - beginning in 1976.
- Bushcraft – originally released as Northern Bushcraft in 1988. A guide to outdoor skills and wilderness survival. (Lone Pine Publishing)(Northern Bushcraft - 1988 ISBN 1-871890-30-6) (Bushcraft - 1998 ISBN 1-55105-122-2)
- Bush Arts – a guide to hand crafting with materials from the boreal forest. Lone Pine Publishing, 1989 ISBN 0-919433-49-9
- Wilderness Skills Series and A Plant Walk with Mors Kochanski - (DVD series produced by Karamat Wilderness Ways)
- Booklet series (17+ tiles, inc. Basic Wilderness Skills in Deep Snow, Survival Kit Ideas, etc.) – published by Karamat Wilderness Ways
- Basic Safe Travel and Boreal Survival Handbook: Gems from Wilderness Arts and Recreation Magazine in 2013. A guide to outdoor skills and wilderness survival. (Publisher: Karamat Wilderness Ways, ISBN 978-1894453684)
- Grand Syllabus, Instructor Trainee Program: Survival, Wilderness Living Skills, Bushcraft in 2015. (Publisher: Karamat Wilderness Ways, ISBN 978-1894453677)
- Northern Bushcraft (1988) ISBN 1-871890-30-6
- Bush Arts (1989) ISBN 0-919433-49-9
- Bushcraft (1998) ISBN 1-55105-122-2
- Basic Safe Travel and Boreal Survival Handbook (2013) ISBN 978-1894453684
- Grand Syllabus. Instructor Trainee Program (2015) ISBN 978-1894453677