The Great Outdoors

13 January marks the day that Sigurd Olson died in 1982. Sigurd Olson was an American author and environmentalist. Born to Swedish, Baptist parents, Olson grew up in northern Wisconsin where he developed his lifelong interest in the outdoors. For more than thirty years, he served as a wilderness guide in the lakes and forests of the Quetico-Superior country of northern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario. He attended the UW-Madison.

His first article, an account of a canoe expedition, was published by the Milwaukee Journal on July 31, 1921.  In August of that year, Olson married Elizabeth Dorothy Uhrenholdt, and the two spent their honeymoon on another canoe trip in the Boundary Waters.

On August 27, 1971, a little over a year after the celebration of the first Earth Day, Northland College hosted its first environmental conference. Among those invited to address the two-day conference were Senator Gaylord Nelson and Sigurd Olson. The conference became the instrument of origin of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute.

Olson was President of the National Parks Association and a member of its Board of Trustees. He was vice-president of The Wilderness Society from 1963 to 1967 and President 1968 to 1971. In 1974, Olson earned the John Burroughs Medal, the highest honor in nature writing.