Shawn James is a popular outdoorsman and YouTuber.

He has more than two million subscribers on his YouTube channel by name, My Self Reliance.


Shawn James was born on 10 April 1970 in Canada.

He grew up in a middle-class family in Newmarket, Canada.

Love for outdoors-

Shawn grew up near the farm fields and a small forest and everyday he used to walk down the forest after school and this sparked his interest in the outdoors.

During that time, he used to catch snakes and adopt them as pets.

Shawn along with his family used to go camping and during that time, his grandparents had a trailer in the Honey Harbour and here, he learnt fishing off the dock.

He also went to day camps at a young age and later, he did outdoor activities around the world.

Inspired by Two little savages-

Once his mother gave him the Two little savages book.

This book was written by Ernest Thompson Seton, one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America.

While reading this book, Shawn was inspired by the story of two boys going out in woods and building shanties and so, at 11, he along with his friend started building shelters and sleeping in them even in the winter.

At 12, he built winter shelters with the pieces of split-rail fence and used to sleep in it.


During that time, Shawn was very much into hockey, canoeing and kayaking.

At 12, he gave a demonstration to Wayne Gretzky on how to do an eskimo roll on a kayak.

At 15, Shawn along with his three friends canoed for an entire week from the Six Mile Lake to Georgian Bay.

A year later, they did a week-long trip on the French River in Canada.

Building a cabin in woods-

Shawn did commercial roofing for two summers and this taught him the value of hard work and taught him skills of measuring tape and using a hammer which later helped him in building cabins in woods.

At 17, with the money he saved by doing commercial roofing, he bought a property near Whitestone Lake.

Here, Shawn hand-built a cabin in the woods and had a couple of canoes at stash on the Black Lake and enjoyed hunting and fishing.


After quitting high school at 17, Shawn lived in his cabin in woods for sometime and then took on a variety of jobs.

At 21, he took a sheet metal apprenticeship and started going to sheet metal work with his father.

Then, Shawn did sheet metal work in a commercial setting for around eight years and here, he learned using tools, measurements and building codes and all these later helped him to build a cabin in the woods.

Starting his own business-

After doing sheet metal work, Shawn started his own commercial roofing sheet metal business and here, he learnt about structural engineering, waterproofing and general things about buildings and all this knowledge later helped him in building his cabin.

As he wasn’t passionate about his business, he lost everything and thanks to the financial hardships, he had to even sell the property that he bought when he was 17 and even then he was indebted.

The financial crisis of 2007–2008 was another reason for the failure of Shawn’s business.

Later, as he was passionate about renewable energy, he started a business related to it.

Back to the basics-

Eventually, Shawn started receiving many lucrative work opportunities but as he wanted to live a simpler life in the woods, he quit everything including his business and moved into the woods.

In 2017, he built his log cabin in an unorganized township near Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario at a reasonable distance to the major centres.

Shawn chose an unorganized township instead of an organized township because in organized township the development fee was high.

He built his cabin without any power tools.

Entering YouTube-

Once while researching in the canoe forums, Shawn stumbled upon the YouTube videos of Larry Hyett and started watching them and was impressed by them.

Then, he wrote a piece for the Trip Reports on the Algonquin Adventures forum and won a $100 gift certificate from Duncan outfitters.

This win sparked Shawn’s interest in sharing knowledge with people and so, he thought of starting a YouTube channel to not only share his knowledge but also to build an audience and monetize it.

So, on 23 April 2013, he started a YouTube channel by name, My Self Reliance.

Making a living in the woods-

Initially, Shawn was earning by guiding and developing websites for other outdoorsmen.

He was also earning by writing articles for Ontario Tourism, canoe magazines, etc. and by selling photographs for Tilley.

Becoming viral & a full-time YouTuber-

One of Shawn’s videos titled- Log Cabin Building TIMELAPSE Built By ONE MAN Alone In The Forest got shared by George Takei’s Facebook page and got very viral.

This video also got featured on ABC News.

As Shawn started getting good views on his videos, he became a full-time YouTuber.

As of May 2022, he has 2.01M subscribers on his My Self Reliance YouTube channel and 328K subscribers on his second YouTube channel by name, Shawn James.

As of May 2022, Shawn has 192k followers on Instagram and 216K followers on My Self Reliance Facebook page.

He uses Sony a7 III, GoPro Hero7 Black and GoPro – Hero5 cameras.

He also has a website and sells merchandise.


Shawn feels living and working in the forest to be very meditative.

Also, previously while working in his office, he was suffering with back pain but he hasn’t experienced back pain while working in the forest.

Shawn’s physical health improved by doing physical work in the woods.

Personal life-

Shawn is married and has two daughters.

He introduced his family to outdoor activities like camping, paddling, etc.

Shawn has a pet golden retriever, Cali. 

So, how are you inspired by the success story of Shawn James?

Share with me in the comment section below.

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Naveen Reddy

Hello folks, I'm Naveen Reddy. I love writing the inspiring success stories of people so as to inspire you and help you become successful in life. Sometimes, I also write the success stories of brands. Enjoy the well-researched articles!!!


Hubert · December 11, 2022 at 4:11 AM

Hat jemand die E Mail Adresse oder Telefonnummer von Shawn James?
Gruß Hubert

Hubert Jänsch · December 10, 2022 at 5:28 AM

Hi Shawn James,

I’m not englisch.
have you a E-Mail and WhatsApp ?

I See you!

God by

    Naveen Reddy · December 10, 2022 at 9:01 AM

    Hi Hubert, you can find Shawn James’s email address in the ‘About’ section of his YouTube channel.

JIM LUCAS · July 11, 2022 at 4:24 AM


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