Living Waters

Reading the Rivers of the Lower Great Lakes

By Margaret Wooster

Subjects: Environmental Studies, New York/regional, Ecology, Urban And Regional Planning
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9780791477045, 213 pages, January 2009
Hardcover : 9780791477038, 213 pages, January 2009

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
1. The Global Context
Part I. The Niagara Frontier
2. What Is Niagara?
Interlude: Harmonic Convergence, Niagara Falls
3. Scajaquada: Portrait of an Urban Creek
4. Buffalo River Abandoned
Interlude: The Power of Water
Part II. Beginnings
5. Genesee Torture Tree: Rereading Little Beard’s Signs
6. Zoar Valley Genesis
Interlude: Killdeer and Other Mysteries
Part III. The Eastern Door
7. High Peaks, Cloud Lakes
8. Oswego, Onondaga, and the Politics of Listing
9. Le Fleuve
Interlude: Second Voyage
10. Leopold Revisited

Fascinating stories based on the author’s exploration of eight rivers in New York and Québec.


In Living Waters, Margaret Wooster canoes, portages, camps beside, and wades into eight Great Lakes watersheds across New York and Québec, returning with her pockets full of original stories from these beautiful, boggy, and prehistoric waterways. From the history of hydropower development on the Niagara River to the search for a wizard's cave in the Zoar Valley, from a portrait of an urban creek in Buffalo, to the origins and demise of New France on the St. Lawrence, Living Waters offers a fascinating, first-person exploration of the rivers that impact our world's largest freshwater ecosystem.

Margaret Wooster is the author of Somewhere to Go on Sunday: A Guide to Natural Treasures in Western New York. She lives in Buffalo, New York.


"General readers and students of natural history and conservation will find Living Waters a valuable addition to their collections." — CHOICE

"…an easy-to-read tour de force of the complex issues, people, and cultures that have shaped our current ecological conditions." — Artvoice

"…simply wonderful. Everyone interested in the natural history of our region should read this." — The Buffalo News

"Living Waters explores tributaries and rivers that feed and drain to Great Lakes across New York State and down the St. Lawrence with an appreciation for their rich natural and cultural histories, and an awareness of their impact on the largest freshwater ecosystem in the world. Aldo Leopold, a guiding voice throughout, once said that the best way to nurture an environmental ethic in society is to help people see, feel, love and have faith in actual places. These river stories cultivate that intimacy." — Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Chairman, Waterkeeper Alliance

"This is a tremendously good book. People tend to overlook the magnificently aqueous nature of New York State and Living Waters does that watery topography a great deal of justice." — Bill McKibben

"This is one of the most important and entertaining chronicles ever written of Great Lakes Country. Wooster is a sharp-eyed journalist, a talented writer, and a big-hearted member of the Great Lakes community." — Dave Dempsey, author of On the Brink: The Great Lakes in the 21st Century and Great Lakes for Sale