André-François Bourbeau

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Andre-Francois Bourbeau is a noted Canadian survival expert and professor emeritus at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi.[1] Bourbeau co-founded the survival skills Outdoor Adventure Program (also called the Outdoors Pursuits and Adventure Tourism Program [2]) at that university and taught there for more than 30 years. The students at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi have affectionately given Bourbeau the nickname "Doc Survival" due to his skills.


Bourbeau was born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu [3] in Quebec, and raised in the 200-person village of Spragge [3] north of Lake Huron in central Ontario.[2] He is the eldest son of Georges Bourbeau and Gertrude Bourbeau. Georges Bourbeau was a culinary professor and placement officer at the Provincial Institute of Trade (now George Brown College).[4] Georges Bourbeau founded a meal-services business called G.B. Catering in 1969 (still in business today), catering initially to Camp Shalom, a Jewish children's summer camp.[4] Gertrude was a professional baker.[4]

Bourbeau started traveling with his father's catering business for summer camps [4] as dishwasher and assistant cook,[3] and became noted for eating unfamiliar berries, plants and roots and acting out survivalist scenarios with little or no food or tools at this young age.[2] He completed a B.A. in mathematics and physical education at the University of Toronto. In the 1970s, Bourbeau taught at a high school in Thornhill, Ontario.[2]

Bourbeau then completed a Masters Degree in outdoors education and a PhD in survival education (completed 1981) at the University of Northern Colorado in the school of educational change and development.[2][5]

Bourbeau then took a faculty position at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, initially intending only to stay for a short time, but he "fell in love with the rugged Saguenay region, with its 15 whitewater rivers nearby and ample opportunities for living in the bush".[2] As a professor, Bourbeau launched an undergraduate program in outdoor leadership at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi in 1995, with physical education professor Mario Bilodeau. Bilodeau described their close relationship as tag team of different personalities, saying that "André-François was a bulldozer who broke down doors, and I was a carpenter who fixed them."[2] Bourbeau was also noted for being strongly opposed to cigarette smoking from the very start of his career at Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi.[2]

This outdoor education program at the Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi and Bourbeau himself were cited favorably by Henderson and Potter in their 2001 review of outdoor adventure education programs in Canada; Bourbeau's program was described positively as an example of a program that teaches "primitive wilderness survival" with minimal dependence on modern materials and tools that fosters a greater sense of connectedness to nature and uses less expensive methods (most Canadian programs use relatively modern equipment).[6]

Bourbeau and Bilodeau both retired in 2011.[2] Upon Bourbeau's retirement on August 1, 2011, he was profiled in La Presse (on June 26, 2011) as a pioneer of outdoors education and teacher to dozens of students. [3] After retirement, Bourbeau continued to conduct research in survival-related topics and field work, such as the construction of a dugout canoe from scratch using an old Estonian method.[2]

Bourbeau also developed a packaged dry food system for his father's G.B. Catering food services company, called the "G.B. Tripping System" in the late 1970s.[4]

November 2013, Bourbeau was interviewed by QMI Agency (Quebecor Media) as a survival expert, discussing the situation of Marco Lavoie, an outdoorsman and hiker who survived a bear attack and decided to sacrifice and eat his German Shepherd after surviving for 3 months in the wilderness near James Bay.[7] Bourbeau said that Lavoie survived because he made "good decisions" and that sacrificing his pet was one of those decisions.[7] Bourbeau told the Ottawa Sun on October 31, 2013 that Lavoie's hope in a friend (who was informed of Lavoie's planned date of return to civilization) also played an important role in his survival.[8]

Guinness World Record[edit]

Bourbeau is noted for holding the Guinness World Record for longest voluntary wilderness survival of 31 days, a record he has held for nearly 30 years since 1986.[1][2] Since then, many people surpassed that record. Most of which where part of ALONE. Zachary Fowler survived 87 days. Over 50% of the participants in ALONE surpassed the 31 days.


Bourbeau is the author of four books on wilderness survival.[8] These include Le Surviethon : Vingt-cinq ans plus tard, published in 2011 by JCL [9]

Bourbeau is the also the author of Wilderness Secrets Revealed: Adventures of a Survivor, a wilderness survival book published in 2013 by Dundurn Group[1] that describes his lifetime of survival adventures since his childhood frog-hunting and canoeing with his father. This book's foreword is written by a colleague of Bourbeau's, Les Stroud, a noted Canadian survival expert in his own right.

Boubeau was interviewed by Radio Canada as a noted survival expert twice, in November 2013 on its Breakaway program concerning this book, concerning his world record, and concerning Marc Lavoie's situation (described above).[10] and in September 2013 about his canoe research.[11]

Profiles of Nature episode[edit]

Bourbeau's survival teachings and his successful world record attempt are the subject of an episode of Profiles of Nature, a Canadian wildlife documentary television series. This episode won a bronze medal at the Houston International Film Festival.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Wilderness Secrets Revealed: Adventures of a Survivor - André-François Bourbeau". Retrieved 2015-07-02.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Meet André-François Bourbeau: wilderness survival pioneer | University Affairs". 2014-08-06. Retrieved 2015-01-24.
  3. ^ a b c d "André-François Bourbeau prépare sa sortie". Retrieved 2015-01-26.
  4. ^ a b c d e "About G.B. Catering". Retrieved 2015-01-24.
  5. ^ "EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm) - Dr. André François Bourbeau's Bio". 1997-04-02. Retrieved 2015-01-24.
  6. ^ Henderson, Bob; Potter, Tom (2001). ""Outdoor Adventure Education in Canada: Seeking the Country Way Back In."" (PDF). Canadian Journal of Environmental Education. pp. 225–242. Retrieved 2015-07-02.
  7. ^ a b "Man apparently ate his dog to stay alive in Quebec woods". Retrieved 2015-01-26.
  8. ^ a b "Man rescued after three months in Quebec forest". Retrieved 2015-01-26.
  9. ^ "ANDRÉ-FRANÇOIS BOURBEAU - Le Surviethon : Vingt-cinq ans plus tard - Sports - LIVRES - - Livres + cadeaux + jeux". Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Breakaway | André-François Bourbeau's wilderness secrets". 2013-11-29. Retrieved 2015-07-02.
  11. ^ "Breakaway". Retrieved 2015-07-02.