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Teacher learns lessons as backpack author

A schoolteacher has turned his love for the great outdoors into a part-time job. Despite teaching full-time, Carmine Minutillo, who resides in Parham, Ont.

A schoolteacher has turned his love for the great outdoors into a part-time job.

Backroad Mapbooks editor Jason Marleau stands in front of a big fir tree. Marleau introduced teacher Carmine Minutillo to guidebook writing and often accompanies him.

Despite teaching full-time, Carmine Minutillo, who resides in Parham, Ont., has found time to do research and head writing for Backroad Mapbooks, Canada's leading outdoor recreation guidebook series.

Minutillo's full-time job is as an elementary teacher at a rural school near Kingston, but his true passion is outdoor recreation. To satisfy his desire to spend more time outdoors, he recently began writing outdoor recreation guidebooks for Ontario. New this year is the Backroad Mapbook for Northeastern Ontario that he authored.

"The research is a ton of fun, but the sheer amount of the writing can be overwhelming at times," Minutillo said. "Luckily, I am able to balance the demands of teaching with my family and writing."

He is proud to say he has travelled and camped in almost every province and territory in the country.

His long-time friend and editor of the Backroad Mapbook series, Jason Marleau, introduced Minutillo to guidebook writing.

"We've paddled, hiked, fished and camped together all over the province. Some funny things have happened along the way. One morning we woke up in Northern Ontario to find all of our gear shuffled around the campsite with bear tracks all over. Unbelievably we both slept through the visit. Good thing we had hung our food pack in a tree, otherwise the bear might have still been there in the morning," Marleau said.

Minutillo has always enjoyed the outdoors.

"I think I first started fishing when I was three years old and I paddled my first canoe by the time I was 10."

One of the more unique experiences he has participated in is spending a night in a quanzee or a winter shelter made of snow.

"It's definitely not toasty in a snow shelter," Minutillo noted. "I don't think I'd do it again, but at least I know I can survive in that situation if I had to."

The chance to research for Backroad Mapbooks opened Minutillo's eyes to the amazing recreational opportunities in Ontario.

"I always knew Ontario was a recreation haven, but I remember when I did the research for my first book, Northwestern Ontario, I literally could not believe the endless amount of recreation possibilities. It's both the biggest blessing and the greatest curse of researching and writing these books. I discover so many interesting places to go: trails to hike, campsites to visit, and rivers and lakes to fish and paddle. More than I could possibly ever do in a lifetime."

Minutillo continues to enjoy the great outdoors and is currently researching a Backroad Mapbook for eastern Ontario. The Backroad Mapbooks series has expanded across Canada with over 20 titles coast-to-coast. They are the most comprehensive outdoor guidebooks available and combine detailed maps with information on all the recreation activities in the given area.

The mapbooks can be found at bookstores and outdoor stores or visit for more information.