Welcome to Mors Kochanski's Website
Mors Kochanski is a world-renowned authority on wilderness living skills.
His family immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1938, and Mors was born two years later, the fifth of six children. He was brought up on a relatively isolated farm in Saskatchewan, where he spent most of his time assisting his father, a carpenter (who in Poland had specialised in the construction of windmills). In his early school years, he walked or rode 7 miles to and from school on a bush road—a daily journey that was a significant part of his education and the foundation for a lifetime interest in nature.
In 1954 his parents moved to Prince Albert, and freed from his farm chores he made the public library his second home. Mors took particular interested in two books, an old Boy Scout manual (though he only lasted a year as a scout, disappointed by 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) and the Ashley Book of Knots. He enlisted the help of the head librarian to order his own copy of the latter, which, at around $15 in 1952, took a long time to save enough money to purchase (ten years later, his daily wage as a surveyor was $12 a day.) So began a lifetime of collecting books on natural history, camping and survival skills, resulting in a personal library of thousands of titles.
Mors was a Sea Cadet for three years, chose the Navy as a career and received a scholarship to the Canadian Services College, Royal Roads. While enrolled, he travelled 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) which 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, but enrolled in courses that were of interest to him rather than part of any formal curriculum, including anthropology, psychology, geology and writing. After four years, his lack of participation in a degree program resulted in a suspension from the university due to “a complete lack of direction”.
From that point on he resolved to become a specialist in outdoor subjects (especially wilderness living skills and the lifestyles of wilderness peoples) though he had many different jobs before he found his opportunity to become an instructor, including:
- Draftsman (updating the street plans of the City of Prince Albert after the installation of gas mains)
- Concrete Technician (construction of water-excluding cribbing for a potash mine)
- Geologists’ Assistant (for an engineering firm searching for an optimal location for a potash mine and exploring the feasibility of a solution mining approach in Saskatchewan)
- Engineering Technician (involving a potash solution mine project)
- Surveyor (for the construction of roads in Saskatchewan)
- Social Worker (for the Alberta government, working in part with aboriginal families).
It was also around this time that he got his pilot’s license.
In 1968, Blue Lake Centre (near Hinton, Alberta) began operating outdoor education programs and Mors, now 28 years of age, offered his services. At the same time, he met his friend and mentor, Tom Roycraft, who was at the time the senior civilian survival instructor at a Department of National Defense survival school.
Mors became an associate professor at the University of Alberta Faculty of Physical Education, editor of the magazine ‘Alberta wilderness arts and recreation’ and freelanced for various agencies ranging from Boy Scouts to bush pilots over the next thirty-five years.
In 1986, he was approached to write “Northern Bushcraft”-(later retitled “Bushcraft”), which became a Canadian bestseller.
Mors has acquired an international following, and has instructed in Canada, the US, the UK and Sweden.
List of Publications:
- Wilderness Arts and Recreation Magazine(editor and author, with 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)
- Bush Arts – a guide to hand crafting with materials from the boreal forest. Lone Pine Publishing, 1989
- 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) – Karamat Wilderness Ways