No Man's River

Overview

With No Man's River, Farley Mowat has penned his best Arctic tale in years. This book chronicles his life among Metis trappers and native people as they struggle to eke out a living in a brutal environment. In the spring of 1947, putting the death and devastation of WWII behind him, Mowat joined a scientific expedition. In the remote reaches of Manitoba, he witnessed an Eskimo population ravaged by starvation and disease brought about by the white man. In his efforts to provide the natives with some of the ...

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Overview

With No Man's River, Farley Mowat has penned his best Arctic tale in years. This book chronicles his life among Metis trappers and native people as they struggle to eke out a living in a brutal environment. In the spring of 1947, putting the death and devastation of WWII behind him, Mowat joined a scientific expedition. In the remote reaches of Manitoba, he witnessed an Eskimo population ravaged by starvation and disease brought about by the white man. In his efforts to provide the natives with some of the assistance that the government failed to provide, Mowat set out on an arduous journey that collided with one of nature's most arresting phenomena—the migration of the Arctic's caribou herds. Mowat was based at Windy Post with a Metis trapper and two Ihalmiut children. A young girl, known as Rita, is painted with special vividness—checking the trap lines with the men, riding atop a sled, smoking a tiny pipe. Farley returns to the North two decades later and discovers the tragic fate that befell her. Combining his exquisite portraits with awe-inspiring passages on the power of nature, No Man's River is another riveting memoir from one of North America's most beloved writers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Having written more than 35 books (People of the Deer; Never Cry Wolf; etc.), Mowat (b. 1921) is certainly the pre-eminent chronicler of life on the Arctic frontier. Now he details an early Arctic adventure, a journey he took in 1947. After serving in the Canadian infantry in WWII, Mowat sought a peaceful, picturesque life in northern Manitoba, where he found circumstances that were less barbaric, but just as hard. Mowat describes joining a two-man zoological expedition on its way to an isolated camp run by a young trapper, Charles Schweder, and his family. Mowat's relationship with his expedition partner soon deteriorated, and he befriended Schweder. The two set out to help the local Eskimo population, who were struggling with smallpox and famine caused by dwindling caribou herds-all the while under pressure themselves to survive on the barren land: stockpiling meat, conserving ammunition and scrambling from shelter to shelter. The book's heart lies with the conflicts among Schweder, his racist father, his brooding brother and the Eskimo children who came into their home. Mowat's vivid descriptions and careful storytelling bring the northern frontier to life as well as any fictional account, yet the characters are real and the adversities loom large. As a result, the quiet, sad fates that meet many of Mowat's friends-both natives and pioneers-will have a lasting effect on readers. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Master wilderness storyteller Mowat (High Latitudes, 2003, etc.) spins a rousing tale of travels through the Canadian Far North during 1947, darkened a bit by forebodings about the future. The author went to the barren lands west of Hudson Bay in the postwar period as an assistant to a scientist he immediately disliked. Mowat considered their work "little more than high-grade plundering ventures devoted to slaughtering everything non-human or non-domesticated," and he'd had had enough of that during the war. So before long he took ill-tempered parting from the scientist and pushed off with Charles Schweder, a Metis trapper. They checked on Schweder's lines as they roved, but mostly the pair explored parts unknown, experienced the great migration of caribou, and met native people, inland-dwelling Inuit uncorrupted by contact with the population to the south. Mowat also ran into curious pockets of white settlers and gathered their stories; he hunted for the stories of the Indians and the Metis he encountered as well. To these narratives, he brings his acute observational powers and participatory enthusiasm, which also fire his descriptions of a land of golden eskers, big spruce, clear lakes, green willow swales, freshwater seals, crashing rapids, grizzlies and ptarmigan, and, always, mosquitoes. Mowat deplores the Canadian government's abuse of native peoples, the diseases that decimated their number, the relief supplies that never came as promised to the dislocated populations. Even the missionaries, he notes, "speculated that the native's pagan beliefs might have brought them nearer to God than did . . . Christianity." The author shows off skills developed over decades as he comfortablysets the scene ("I spent the best part of my childhood roaming the central Saskatchewan prairie") and alludes to the life of roaming to come. A superior example of Mowat's chronicling powers, illuminating a grand Canadian region that was about to change forever.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786716920
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 2/9/2006
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,384,380
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

FARLEY MOWAT began writing for his living in 1949 after spending two years in the Arctic. He has lived in or visited almost every part of Canada and many other lands, including Siberia. He is the author of 38 books, including People of the Deer, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, Never Cry Wolf, A Whale for the Killing, Aftermath, My Father’s Son, And No Birds Sang, The Farfarers, Walking on the Land, The Snow Walker, and High Latitudes. He and his wife, writer Claire Mowat, divide their time between Ontario and Nova Scotia.

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Table of Contents

The Why and the Wherefore 1
Part 1 The Incomers 17
Chapter 1 The Incomers 19
Chapter 2 Living on the Land 31
Chapter 3 Brothers 41
Chapter 4 A Spring to Remember 57
Part 2 Windy Post 71
Chapter 5 Windy Post 73
Chapter 6 Man and Lemmings 87
Chapter 7 Science Loses one 97
Part 3 Idthen Eldeli 111
Chapter 8 Southbound 113
Chapter 9 Many Islands Lake 123
Chapter 10 Telequoisie 136
Chapter 11 Brochet 147
Part 4 Kasmere's River 163
Chapter 12 Climbing the Cochrane 165
Chapter 13 Two to Remember 174
Chapter 14 Kasmere's Grave 185
Chapter 15 Kasmere's Birds 196
Chapter 16 Putahow 207
Part 5 Arctic Prairie 219
Chapter 17 Homecoming 221
Chapter 18 Land of Little Sticks 232
Chapter 19 The Deer's Way 244
Part 6 No Man's River 255
Chapter 20 Big River 257
Chapter 21 River Dogs 268
Chapter 22 Eskimo Charlie 277
Chapter 23 Kumiut 291
Chapter 24 Tavanni Not 302
Part 7 Aftermath 317
Chapter 25 Charles 319
Chapter 26 Rita 331
Author's Note 341
Index 343
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