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Arthur W. Greeley and Will O. Doolittle donated material for this collection.


The collection is open for research.


The President's Quetico-Superior Committee papers are the physical property of the Denver Public Library.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


[Identification of item], President's Quetico-Superior Committee, CONS108, Conservation Collection, The Denver Public Library


Number of Boxes: 1




Claudia Jensen

January 2006


Ellen Zazzarino


President Roosevelt created the President's Quetico-Superior Committee on June 30, 1934, in furtherance of "a program for the establishment of a Wilderness Sanctuary in the Rainy Lake and Pigeon River Watersheds through which runs the International Boundary Line between Canada and the United States." ( Report to the President, 1938, p. 7) The area involved is about ten million acres, approximately the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Individuals and the governments of Canada and the United States owned the land proposed for this program. It included the Quetico National Forest in Ontario, the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, and the Grand Portage Indian Reservation, under the control of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The committee consisted of five members, serving four-year terms; Sewell T. Tyng, Chairman; Ernest C. Oberholtzer, Executive Secretary; Charles S. Kelly; Robert Marshall, Chief Division of Recreation and Lands, U.S. Forest Service; and William Zimmerman, Jr., Assistant Commissioner of Indian Affairs. The following people worked with the Committee at various times: Jay Price, Olaus Murie, Sigurd F. Olson, Jr., Ralph P. Wentworth, Ken Reid, Paul F. Boyer, Robert Beatty, Donald O'Hearn, H.C. Walker, Frederick S. Winston, Harold Svensen, Dean Cochrane, Galen Pike, Lou Hester, F.B. Hubachek, F.B. Hubachek Jr., Donald Winston, and Wesley White.

The following history of the Superior-Quetico area was taken from A Historic Record of Development of Quetico-Superior Wilderness Area and of the Chippewa National Forest, Minnesota by Herman H. Chapman:

  • 1909 President Theodore Roosevelt establishes the Superior National Forest and the Province of Ontario establishes Quetico Provincial Park adjacent to the Superior National Forest
  • 1912 Weeks Act of 1911, boundaries of Superior are extended
  • 1920 Proposed highways into the interior threaten wilderness character of the region
  • 1925 Proposal for water-powered development
  • 1926 Initial wilderness reservations to be kept free of roads and developments
  • 1927 Quetico-Superior Program is developed for the protection of the area
  • 1929 American and Canadian Legion endorse Quetico-Superior programs, urge area to be dedicated to veterans of both countries as an International Peace Memorial
  • 1930 Shipstead-Newton-Nolan Act Public Act No. 539, 71st Congress) protects shorelines of lakes and streams on federal lands within Superior National Forest
  • 1933 Minnesota passes similar legislation giving protection to state-owned shorelines
  • 1934International Joint Commission recommends denial of 1925 application for water-powered development; President Roosevelt appoints Quetico-Superior Committee
  • 1939U.S. Forest Service enlarges Roadless Areas
  • 1940Canadian government imposes shoreline-cutting restrictions in Quetico Provincial Park
  • 1941 The Wilderness is invaded by airplane fishing camps built on private lands. U.S. Forest Service prohibits timber cutting on acres adjacent to Quetico-Provincial Park and the international border
  • 1944 Ontario Legion and Canadian Conservation Association endorse Quetico-Superior Program, urge inclusion of World War II veterans from both countries
  • 1945 Department of Lands and Forests of Ontario refuses to grant leases for private development within Quetico Provincial Park
  • 1948Thye-Blatnik Bill becomes law, authorizes $500,000 for acquisition of private lands within Roadless Area
  • 1949Vincent Massey accepts chairmanship of newly organized Canadian Quetico-Superior Committee. President Truman signs Executive Order 10092, which becomes partially effective, prohibiting all flying except to developed properties
  • 1952 Executive Order 10092 becomes fully effective. U.S. District Court upholds validity of the order in the case of U.S. vs. Perko, et al.
  • 1953 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirms previous decision of District Court; the Supreme Court refuses to review that decision


The collection consists of committee-meeting minutes, reports, correspondence, and reference material documenting the activities of the President's Quetico-Superior Committee to "consult and advise with the various Federal departments and agencies concerned, and with the State of Minnesota" on the Quetico-Superior Program. The Committee's correspondence and reports address issues such as: acquisition of privately owned land; forest and wildlife management; logging; private power development on the Pigeon River; highway construction through uninhabited regions; management of recreational development; access and over-flights by airplanes; and the creation of the International Peace Memorial Forest. The reports to the President emphasize the need to develop a treaty with Canada to insure the effectiveness of regulations preserving the wilderness, regardless of the political boundaries.

The reference materials contain articles about the value of wilderness and the uniqueness of the area. Also included is the correspondence of William Zimmerman Jr., who served as the Department of the Interior representative on the committee. The Zimmerman files were originally in Department of Interior, Office of Indian Affairs binders and have been moved to folders with their original order maintained. Materials date from 1931 to 1978.



  • President's Quetico Superior Committee -- Archives.
  • Zimmerman, William, 1890-1967 -- Correspondence.
  • Wilderness areas -- Minnesota.
  • Wilderness areas -- Ontario.
  • Land use -- Minnesota.
  • Land use -- Ontario.
  • Quetico-Superior Country (Ont. and Minn.)
  • Rainy River Watershed (Minn. and Ont.)
  • Grand Portage Reservation (Minns.)
  • Superior National Forest (Minn.)
  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area (Minns.)