David was born in a small Wyoming town, Lusk, Wyoming.
His father worked in the oilfields all his life, following whichever an oil boom was underway, resulting in many moves through out Wyoming, and about a year and a half in Montana.
David lived his first 18 years in the United States then moved to Edmonton where he attended the University of Alberta. Employment in Alberta was tough to find
so he returned to the US and found employment in a large open pit uranium mine. As an American citizen he was obliged to serve in the US Armed Forces and they requested his help. He served three years in the US Army as a medic serving primarily in Germany so his life in the USA was 22 years
David is a Canadian citizen and has lived in Canada 57 years thus far.
Beginning at age five, David was wandering the forests and hills around a small settlement at Cline, Montana. He had a year-old brother and his mother was pregnant with the soon to arrive second brother. It seems that it did not occur to his mother that there was danger from bears or cougars in Montana, perhaps because his mother grew up in Tennessee rather than the West. David wandered the forests and hills with three or four dogs, they followed wherever he went and he followed them home when they knew it was time to go. So David had an early penchant to wander around wherever he was.
When in grades six and seven he and two pals explored and hiked through the western edges of the Black Hills and the prairies to the west of the small Wyoming town where we lived. And in Upton, Wyoming he and his buddies wandered through pine and cedar forests. In Wibaux, Montana he and his new pals scouted out the creek that ran through the town and country side where in high clay bluffs they found a buffalo skull embedded in the high bluffs. And then back to Newcastle where he and his friends would hike to Cave Springs a place that fascinated him.
He surmised that following the melting water of the glaciers flowed over what had been a waterfall and the water fell into basin below. The rock face eroded as the water rolled back agaist the rock face until it undercut the ancient rock. Tall rock sentinels stood guard around the basin. The back of the cave roof dripped water year around. The basin with the tall rock sentinels and the rock surrounding the basin made a perfect amphitheater. David always imagined early men and women living under the shelter of the stone roof. He and his pals also hiked trying to find Cambria, an abandoned coal town. They never quite found it, but had great fun in the hills and gullies looking for it.
David didn’t begin canoeing until he was in his early 30s, but he learned quickly and well. He soon became a canoe teacher and among the best of his canoeing colleagues who he helped learn better canoeing skills. He and his wife, Agnes quickly improved their skills. They learned how to shoot rapids as did Ian, the younger son Ian. Steven learned many of his canoeing and kayaking skills on his own or other mentors. Both sons learned to canoe and kayak and often went together on long river trips with David.
With one of his North-West Expeditions partners, Prokop, David and Prokop won the downriver covered canoe championship in the British Columbia Whitewater Championships in 1972. Earlier in the year an Alberta canoeing club sponsored the National White Water Championships. David was not a skilled kayaker, but he did earn the title of Riverbed Inspection and Rock Testing Class, a delightful jest of his colleagues in the club which he greatly continues to value. The truth is that he could occasionally roll his kayak up again after tipping.
Years later Ian and David ran the very difficult Clear Water River and were the only canoe that did not swamp. And another time they ran the infamous Brierley Rapids on the North Saskatchewan River at Rocky Mountain House with the same success.
One of the most interesting things that David promoted while teaching was the promotion of building of a 16 foot Canoe Maître.
The canoe turned out very well. Years after David left teaching he was invited to paddle with some of his former teacher colleagues and others to participate in the National Parks 1986 celebration; of the fur trade from Rocky Mountain House to Fort Edmonton via the Canoe Maître’s. David’s Canoe Maître paddlers carried the Hudson Bay “Factor” with his books and ledgers and their craft bested the rest of the paddlers to Fort Edmonton after a serious contest. All participants wore the traditional voyageur finger woven sashes donated by the Parks people which David still has. David was the bow man on the Canoe Maître and it was there that he came to know how responsive and maneuverable the long bow paddle made the large canoe. It was exciting for David to have been the bow paddler.
After North West Expeditions started rafting the canoeists found they had a great deal to learn. On one of their first trips in late fall they ran on a log in the Red Deer River and filled the raft with icy water such that they all were near hypothermia. When they managed to get out of the river into a municipal campsite with a good wood burning stove at Sundry, Alberta. But they soon learned to be skilled rafters such that they could deal with the upper Red Deer River, the Athabasca River, the Nahanni and the Coppermine Rivers.
North-West Expeditions were pleased to have a video movie by CBCs Edmonton on the Brazeau River and later a film with Access Alberta, an educational television station for a show called From Nine to Five which featured persons who had more unusual occupations and David was one of those. The show title was David Rowe Nahanni Riverman and the name “David Rowe Nahanni Riverman” stuck.