In the North of Our Lives: A Year in the Wilderness of Northern Canada

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Down East Books, 1989 - Travel - 248 pages
An account of fourteen months spent on a canoe trip from the Macmillan River in the Yukon to Hudson Bay, Northwest Territories in 1977-'78. Includes maps, photographs and references.

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As we canoe wilderness rivers we are reminded of the people who have traveled that way before us. If we look hard we can see the pictographs and fire rings of the indigenous people. The littered campsites and portages of present day visitors are not so hard to find. Christopher Norment's journey across the Northwest Territories was littered with remembrances of the well documented early explores (Pike, Hanbury, Hornby, etc). He has included many excerpts from the journals and descriptions of these travellers in the account of his 14 month expedition.
This is not a "how to" book although the account of accumulating "500 pounds of flour, 350 pounds of peanut butter and 425 pounds of dried fruit" packing and transporting this and the other food, equipment and supplies is entertaining. "In the North of Our Lives" is the remembrances and impressions, set down ten years later, of the 2200 mile paddle Norment and his five companions. They wintered on the "Barren Grounds, 250 miles from the nearest settlement" from mid August to 1977 to early July 1978. They traversed the rivers of the north with such wonderful names - Macmillian, Ross, South Nahanni, Laird, Mackenzie, Hanbury and Thelon; lakes - Moose Ponds, Great Slave, Artillery etc to Chesterfield Inlet on Hudson Bay.
This group were trying to get away from civilization, trying to find a corner of the world that was not caught up in the madness of the 20th century. They did not succeed. The madness crashed in on them and yanked them from their refuge and flung them back into civilization. These events and Mr Norment's wonderful story are very compelling reading. In his words "no wilderness is truly inviolate". Which makes us all remember that to preserve the wilderness we enjoy so much we must paddle softly and work hard.



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About the author (1989)

Christopher Norment, professor of environmental science and biology at the College at Brockport, State University of New York, is the author of "In the Memory of the Map: A Cartographic Memoir" and "Return to Warden's Grove: Science, Desire, and the Lives of Sparrows".

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