Our History

Fifty Years of Legendary Experience and Service

For over 50 years, adventurers have left our dock on Moose Lake for their wilderness trip of a lifetime. Lot’s of things have changed during those fifty years. We have new lodge buildings, lighter and better canoes, and different owners. But one thing remains - a tradition of quality service, safety and credibility.


The Beginning - Don Beland Starts it All

Don Beland was well-known in Ely Minnesota as a guide, trapper and ultimately an outfitter. Don left his home in Illinois at the age of 16 and headed for Canoe Country where he started trapping and guiding. Don came to the shores of Moose Lake around 1964 with the dream of creating the best canoe outfitting operation in North America. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness did not even officially exist at time.

Some of the stories about Don include:

  • He would go into the wilderness for 3 months at a time, not seeing another human the whole time.
  • Injuring his knee while in the wilderness, he dragged himself 15 miles on frozen ground to the nearest cabin
  • Don served as the sole guide for a trip of 28 female canoeists on an eight-day trip.

An old Don Beland’s Wilderness Canoe Trips brochure says “For a 1st class canoe trip, you can depend on the credibility of Don Beland’s Wilderness Canoe Trip. North America’s most experienced canoe outfitter.”

Tom and Woods - Time of Growth and Change

Eventually, Tom Ware and Woods Davis bought the operation from Don Beland. They renamed the business Tom and Woods’ Moose Lake Wilderness Canoe Trips. The location was the same. However, Tom and Woods had big plans. They built the new facilities that still exist today. The business grew significantly during their ownership. Finally, Tom and Woods were always a favorite at sporting shows. They were consummate cheerleaders (and salesmen) for canoeing in the Boundary Waters.

The Williams and Hall Era Begins

Tom and Woods decided to sell the business in 1994. Blayne and Charlene Hall, along with Lyle and Shirley Williams purchased the business and renamed it Williams and Hall Wilderness Outfitters and Canoe Trips. The Halls and Williams moved their families to the shores of Moose Lake that year. Eventually, Lyle Williams retired and sold his interest to Kevin Lynch, but the company’s name stayed the same.

Today, the facilities are well maintained and the equipment is continually updated. Blayne and Charlene continue to live on site, over 20 years now. A key member of our team, Dave Sebesta, our General Manager, who knows the Boundary Waters inside and out, lives just down the road.

That’s our story. For fifty years, our company remains true to its original founder’s goal. We deliver a first class canoe trip and you can depend on our credibility as one of North America’s most experienced canoe outfitters. We look forward to another fifty years of serving you.