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John MacGregor




John “Rob Roy” MacGregor was one of those legendary nineteenth century characters whom it is hard to believe ever existed. Marksman, boxer, traveler, philanthropist, and above all, canoeist extraordinaire – the colorful and intrepid MacGregor grabbed life by the throat and shook it for all it was worth.

MacGregor was a Scottish barrister practising in London, and most people credit him with developing the first sailing canoes.  He himself turned to canoeing when, after an accident, he was no longer able to indulge his favourite sport, shooting.  He canoed all over the world – in Europe, the Baltic and the Middle East. 

The Rob Roy on the Jordan

John MacGregor

ISBN 1590480732


The student-turned-soldier came up with the idea of constructing a canoe in 1865. In less than 30 days he made his dream a reality, then immediately set sail across the waterways of Europe. After amazing the natives of various European nations, the intrepid Scotsman turned his wandering eye towards more exotic realms. It was then that he decided to embark on his now-famous canoe, the Rob Roy, into the waterways of the Holy Land and Egypt.

What followed can only be described as nineteenth century adventure and exploration at its finest. MacGregor paddled his way through Palestine, Syria and eventually into Egypt, making his way through both the Jordan and Nile rivers. Yet his nine-month long waterborne journey was not without danger and hardship. “The Rob Roy on the Jordan” describes how the canoeist avoided being eaten by crocodiles, was kidnapped by outraged natives, made his way through a variety of swamps and deserts, and managed to grow corn from 3,000-year-old seeds discovered in an Egyptian mummy.

Long considered a classic of adventure travel, MacGregor’s “The Rob Roy on the Jordan” still makes for exciting reading.


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