Sea Winter Salmon – Chronicles of the St. John River

by Mari Hill Harpur with Eileen Regan McCormack




Tria Restaurant, North Oaks, Minnesota

Mari Hill Harpur's architectural art installation in two windows of Triä Restaurant in North Oaks, strives to put the accent on the local environment.

The photos of trees in autumn colours allow visibility from the interior while at the same time dissimulating the banal interior view in this area of the restaurant.

Reactions have been so positive that other windows will soon be treated in a similar fashion by the artist.



Universal Oneness

Mari Hill Harpur's poem named “Mick’s Lullaby from the High Country” was published in a collection entitled: Universal Oneness: An Anthology of Magnum Opus Poems from around the World.

This poem was written for Mari and Doug Harpur's friend Mick O’Keefe who passed away in June 2014.  He loved the High Country of New Zealand and spent his life in admiration of its splendour. He embraced his passion with joy and tenderness; his daily observations as open and fresh as a young child’s. He worked tirelessly around the neighbourhood with a shovel that was never far from his side. I heard later that his friends buried his shovel with him in case he would need it.

Read the entire poem here.

Book's site



Masterworks Museum, Hamilton, Bermuda

Mari Hill Harpur's image, “Bright, Bold, Bermuda” of local youths by the ocean side will be in the Charman Prize Exhibit at the Masterworks Museum, Hamilton, Bermuda.

The Charman Prize is a  showcase competition for art inspired by Bermuda. The exhibit opens October 9, 2019 and will run through January 2020.



Kezia Gallery

A gallery exhibition about Mari Hill Harpur’s book Sea Winter Salmon: Chronicles of the St. John River are currently on display at 421 St. Paul east, Montreal, Quebec, 514-282-1996 during business hours.  Appointments appreciated.



James J. Hill House

A gallery exhibition about Mari Hill Harpur’s book Sea Winter Salmon: Chronicles of the St. John River is currently available at the Minnesota Historical Society’s James J. Hill House, St. Paul, Minnesota,  during business hours, 651 297 2555. Hours posted on their web site.


Sept. 25, 2018

World Forestry Center

Mari Hill Harpur was inducted into the Forestry Leadership Hall in praise of her passion and business initiatives. The ceremony took place at the World Forestry Center, Portland, Oregon September 25, 2018.


May 2017

The Westover Award, presented by the Board of Directors of Westover School, Middlebury, Connecticut.


April 4, 2017

Canadian Club at Brome Lake, Yamaska Valley

128 139 Rte Brome Lake, QC, Canada - West Brome

Free for members, non-members $10

+1 450-266-7552


September 25 – November 24, 2016

Minnesota Historical Society

James J. Hill House

240 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA


October 4th, 2016 – 2pm

Waverley Gardens at North Oaks

5919 Centerville Road

North Oaks, MN 55127

+1 651-765-4002


January 25 - September 15, 2016

US Bank – Ascent Private Banking

Private Author Event and photographic exhibition

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA


April 15, 2016

Blue Metropolis Montreal

International Literary Festival

Linda Leith Publishing

French Edition Book Launch

10 Sherbrooke St. W. Montreal, Québec, H2X 4C9


Sept. 17, 2015 - Jan. 15, 2016    

US Bank – Ascent Private Banking

Private Author Event and photographic exhibition

Seattle, Washington, USA


Sept. 12, 2015    

Les Mots Tremblant

Talk and book signing

2053 Chemin du Village,

Mont-Tremblant  QC J8E 1K4

+1 819-421-3496


June 28, 2015           

Greenwood Centre for Living History

Talk and book signing

254 Main Street, Hudson, Québec, Canada


May 12 - September 1, 2015

US Bank – Ascent Private Banking

Private Author Event and photographic exhibition

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA


April 24, 2015

Blue Metropolis Montreal

International Literary Festival

Linda Leith Publishing Book Launch discussion

10 Sherbrooke St. W.

Montreal, Québec, H2X 4C9


April 16, 2015

Atwater Library

Talk, slide show, signing

1200 Atwater Avenue

Westmount, QC H3Z 1X4

+1 514-989-5300


April 11, 2015

ImagiNation Writers’ Festival

Quebec City Author Event,

Talk and slide show

The Morrin Centre

44, chaussée des Écossais

Québec, Canada, G1R 4H3

in the heart of Old Québec



March 6, 2015

The Geraldine Historical Society Museum

Book signing and exhibition

5 Cox Street, Geraldine

New Zealand, 7930

+1 64 (0) 3-693-7028




Review in Quebec Heritage News

"An unusual and most beautiful book has recently been published... The book emphasizes an important aspect of evolution - evolution in the sense that only by adapting to changing conditions can both nature, and man-in-nature, survive and even prosper.

... As a social history, the book is outstanding.

However, the strongest impact of Sea Winter Salmon is visual. Mari Hill Harpur is a gifted photographer. She could have produced a coffee table book of her photos alone. She chose to combine both text and pictures, including many wonderful old photos taken by Hill family members over the generations, outstanding art work by various artists, charts, maps, time lines, and in-depth background information about the region, the people, salmon fishing and conservation methods.

The look of this book is absolutely beautiful. The colours, the page layouts, the reproduction of art and photos are all of the highest quality. The wonderful, peculiar, changeable light of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the granite shores, the flowing waters, and the generations of people who have lived on this land - all are shown by the skill of an excellent photographer who found the right publisher."

Click for the full review in PDF format.


Review by Alex T. Bielak

Atlantic Salmon Journal

Summer 2015

Click for the review in PDF format.


Salmon as a reflection of history and conservation

Sea Winter Salmon: Chronicles of the St John River is about a great salmon river on the lower North Shore of Quebec, and its most important visitor, the illustrious Atlantic salmon.

Very few people have the opportunity or dedication to observe their favourite fish species over a long period of time but Mari Hill Harpur has had a lifelong interest in Atlantic salmon, focusing on this species in a river of a size most New Zealand anglers couldn't imagine. It is much wider and deeper than our Waikato or Clutha rivers, and has a mystique of its own.

In 1889 Canadian and American railroad magnate James J. Hill, who travelled the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, established the log camp on the St. John River that has now been in Hill Harpur's family for five generations.

The author and photographer tracks the special relationship between the salmon and the people of the river through diaries, legal documents, scientific data, rare archival photographs and her own photographic collection.

Dramatic, tragic, amusing, and authoritative, Sea Winter Salmon addresses itself to readers of history, biography, and conservation biology and to fisher-women and men everywhere.

This book is a family memoir and a guide to a river's ecology and the life cycle of the Salmo salar, setting out what it takes to be a good conservationist in a remote and delicate region.

Sea Winter Salmon features photographs Hill Harpur has exhibited in conjunction with many other images taken throughout North America and Canada. Recently, she was the Artist in Residence at the Masterworks Foundation in Hamilton, Bermuda. In 1967 she moved to Canada to attend Bishop's University in Quebec province and in 2012 came to Geraldine - to the residence she and husband Doug enjoy on a back-country station on the banks of the Rangitata River.

"I am never far from a salmon fishery - it's been my focus for so long," she says. "Photography remains a passion."

Peter Shutt, Timaru Herald, NZ

April 4, 2015


"Mari Hill Harpur's Sea Winter Salmon is beautifully evocative and transporting. It pulled me back in time to that remote Canadian outpost, making me feel is if I were right there with the great James J. Hill and his family and friends at the lodge, on the river, in the canoes. There's an equally important, forward-looking sense to the book that gives it great meaning for today: a reverence for the environment and respect for the area's residents and indigenous people. Mari integrates art and science in such a distinctive, compelling way.  James J. Hill and his family would be very proud of her stewardship and delighted with this very engaging, beautifully presented book. Long live the Hill camp!"


Larry Haeg, author, Harriman vs. Hill: Wall Street's Great Railroad War


“Part memoir, part rhapsody, Sea Winter

Salmon is a fascinating read that brings

insight to a beloved tradition. Through it

all, the great Atlantic salmon prevails. Mari

Hill Harpur illuminates a sport which is

also a science, while paying homage to

friendships and local expertise. In their role

as river stewards, the family’s continuing

active involvement with salmon restoration

programs is inspiring.”


– Karen Molson, author of The Molsons:

Their Lives and Times and Hartland de

Montarville Molson: Man of Honour


This beautifully illustrated, if somewhat disjointed, narrative is part natural history, part family history, and part memoir. Author and photographer Harpur tells the story of the St. John River in eastern Canada by highlighting the lives of its people and fish. Glaciers carved the river out of the Canadian Shield during the last ice age, and generations of Atlantic wild salmon migrate to it after spending years at sea. Over time, the salmon have provided both sport and sustenance to the river's human inhabitants. One such inhabitant was James J. Hill, Harpur's great-grandfather, who in 1900 purchased 15 miles along the river from the Quebec government and set up the Hill Log Camp. In six chapters, Harpur details five generations of her family's stewardship of the river and its salmon. "The camp had lasted into the new millennium," she writes, "and we possessed the means and desire to protect and prepare our river for future [salmon] generations." Harpur illustrates her book with historic photographs galore, but her attempt to constantly weave family history with natural history results in a somewhat unfocused read. Nonetheless, conservationists and history enthusiasts will find much to appreciate in this wonderfully presented memoir. (Apr.)


Publishers Weekly


Sea Winter Salmon is published by Linda Leith Publishing.

© 2014 – Mari Hill Harpur

Design: Studio Lézard