High Latitudes: An Arctic Journey

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In High Latitudes Farley Mowat chronicles for the first time a sometimes hazardous journey he took across northern Canada in 1966. He hoped to write a book that would let northern people speak for themselves and that would expose the speciousness of the political idea that the North was “a bloody great wasteland” with no people in it, and therefore resource developers could exploit it however they chose. For reasons Mowat describes that book did not get written then. But here it is now, with the original ...
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Overview

In High Latitudes Farley Mowat chronicles for the first time a sometimes hazardous journey he took across northern Canada in 1966. He hoped to write a book that would let northern people speak for themselves and that would expose the speciousness of the political idea that the North was “a bloody great wasteland” with no people in it, and therefore resource developers could exploit it however they chose. For reasons Mowat describes that book did not get written then. But here it is now, with the original conversations recorded by Mowat during that epic journey. In vintage Mowat fashion the legendary writer delivers a sweeping narrative brimming with breathtaking nature writing, suspenseful storytelling, larger-than-life characters, ferocious humor, pitiless rage, iconoclastic insights, and compassionate concern.
In her foreword Margaret Atwood writes: “High Latitudes gives us, with passion and insight, a vertical section of time past — the time that preceded our present. The choices that were made then affect our now, just as the choices we make now will determine the future. . . . It’s both depressing and cheering to note the changes that have taken place since 1966. On the one hand, more damage and devastation, both natural and social, with global warming as a contributing factor. On the other hand, an increased optimism. . . But as Farley Mowat has always known, and as more and more people have come to agree, it’s a race against time, and time — not just for the North, but for the planet — is running out.”
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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
As always, [Farley's] descriptions of the natural world are precise and vivid. — Dennis Drabelle
Publishers Weekly
After having written more than 35 books, most of them dealing in some fashion with the vastness of Canada's northern regions, it seems at first implausible that Mowat (Never Cry Wolf; The Farfarers; Walking on the Land; etc.) could have anything left to say on the subject. This splendid effort proves how wrong such an assumption would be. In 1966, Mowat's publisher, Jack McClelland, sent Mowat into northern Canada to research an illustrated volume on the region. This book is the tale of that journey. Hopscotching by creaky plane from one isolated settlement to another, Mowat witnesses the devastation being wrought on the native peoples by encroaching white men, lured by a mirage of the north's supposedly limitless minerals and the raw beauty of the land and its people. A cavalcade of vivid, fiction-worthy characters fills these pages: brusque missionaries, embittered native elders, soldiers drunk with cabin fever, and the tragic ghosts of the natives and early Viking explorers who once traversed these bracingly gorgeous lands. Voiced with a passionate sense of justice, this work is stirring reading from the bard of the Canadian north. (Mar. 1) Forecast: The near-simultaneous publication of Farley: The Life of Farley Mowat, by James King (Forecasts, Dec. 16, 2002), should help this book get some publicity. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In 1966, Mowat (The Farfarers; Never Cry Wolf) traveled extensively throughout north and Arctic Canada recording Eskimos', Inuits', and others' thoughts and feelings about Ottawa's "Northern Vision" campaign. This plan called for the extraction of valuable resources, the removal of natives from their traditional homelands, new city development, and, in the process, the eradication of the northern peoples' cultures. Interspersed among the interviews are details of Mowat's travels (both terrestrial and aerial), archaeological and anthropological information, and regional and federal political shenanigans. The book is unsettling, and some actions taken in the name of native "education" are appalling. Mowat published Canada North (updated in 1976 as The Great Betrayal: Arctic Canada Now) after his trip, but it contained no information about the journey itself. High Latitudes is classic Mowat: goading, engaging, and filled with natural descriptions of the Arctic's people and places. Would the publication of this book in the 1960s have altered Canada's history? Probably not, since greed outweighs and usually out-motivates altruistic drives. The book would benefit from an epilog detailing what has happened to the towns, people, and the "Northern Vision" campaign. With a foreword by Margaret Atwood, this is recommended for public libraries.-Margaret Atwater-Singer, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A 1966 journey across northern Canada, much of it above the Arctic Circle. Here's vintage Mowat (Aftermath, 1996, etc.), highly evocative and in full piss-and-vinegar mode, from the land he loves best. The Canadian government, in 1966, is in the midst of a "clearance scheme" to move Inuit populations to locations more convenient for controlling them. This, justly, raises Mowat's ire, especially as it's accompanied by moves to exploit any resources found in the area. The propaganda message sent out by the Canadian government was that the far north was a barren wasteland with few inhabitants, and it's Mowat's intent to disabuse Canadians of such malarkey and let the people who live in the area, both the Inuit and those of European origin, speak for themselves. Long passages are in the words of the inhabitants, from administrators who realize that, in a better world, the Inuits' "real jobs would be doing what they've always done, and really like doing" to an Inuit explaining how his people "mostly think and talk about the past. Never talking about the future more than a day or two away. . . . Life for them is right now; but looking back too." The notion is particularly poignant as the Inuits' cultural history is falling apart all around them as a result of the relocation program. Mowat deploys a two-pronged attack. Fully appreciating that some Canadians may not give a hoot about the Inuit, he sharply describes the vibrant, beautiful, living world of the Arctic north and its fabulous (albeit overhunted) wildlife. But never far away are instances of segregation, disease, missionary interference, wrongheaded-culturally genocidal-governmental actions. Mowat isn't one to let them passunmentioned. A fine slice out of Mowat time, along with the sound of voices so remote that they take your breath away and rouse your instinct to wonder-just as Mowat wished.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586420611
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 2/5/2003
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 6.15 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

FARLEY MOWAT is the author of thirty-eight books that have been published in forty countries and twenty-four different languages and sold more than fourteen million copies. He lives in Ontario and Nova Scotia with his wife, Claire Mowat.
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Read an Excerpt

In High Latitudes Farley Mowat chronicles for the first time a sometimes hazardous journey he took across northern Canada in 1966. He hoped to write a book that would let northern people speak for themselves and that would expose the speciousness of the political idea that the North was “a bloody great wasteland” with no people in it, and therefore resource developers could exploit it however they chose. For reasons Mowat describes that book did not get written then. But here it is now, with the original conversations recorded by Mowat during that epic journey. In vintage Mowat fashion the legendary writer delivers a sweeping narrative brimming with breathtaking nature writing, suspenseful storytelling, larger-than-life characters, ferocious humor, pitiless rage, iconoclastic insights, and compassionate concern.
In her foreword Margaret Atwood writes: “High Latitudes gives us, with passion and insight, a vertical section of time past — the time that preceded our present. The choices that were made then affect our now, just as the choices we make now will determine the future. . . . It’s both depressing and cheering to note the changes that have taken place since 1966. On the one hand, more damage and devastation, both natural and social, with global warming as a contributing factor. On the other hand, an increased optimism. . . But as Farley Mowat has always known, and as more and more people have come to agree, it’s a race against time, and time — not just for the North, but for the planet — is running out.”
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Table of Contents

Foreword vii
1 Getting There 1
2 Bay of Whales 11
3 SNAFU 22
4 The New Stone Age 32
5 Under Two Flags 40
6 Duel at Povungnituk 46
7 The Maverick 58
8 Skipper Jimmy 69
9 Paradise Lost 79
10 Simonee 86
11 Something Else to Do 91
12 The Icie Mountains 98
13 Sweetie Pie 104
14 Jonasee and Paulasee 115
15 Lost Leviathan 125
16 Ruins, Old and New 133
17 God's Country 141
18 Space Station in Foxe Basin 149
19 A Company Man 155
20 The Exiles 160
21 Ayorama 172
22 Top of the World 183
23 Lots of Time 192
24 We'll Be the Bosses 201
25 Back to the Land 210
26 Tuk Tuk 216
27 The Reindeer Herd 227
28 Kidnapped 233
29 Mudopolis 244
30 The Loner 248
31 Here Are the News 259
32 The Captains and the Ships 271
33 Last-time Box 282
Envoy 293
Index 294
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