Chris Czajkowski chose to build her life and small ecotourism business on the shore of a high-altitude lake near the southern tip of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. It is a formidable landscape of lake-dotted alpine plateaus abutting the glacier-swathed backbone of the central Coast Range.
Snowshoes and Spotted Dick describes Czajkowski's experiences as she builds her fourth cabin in the wilderness with hand tools, two chainsaws, an Alaskan Mill and some helpful friends. One of her helpers is Nick Berwain, a quiet but literary young German who corresponds with Czajkowski long after his return home.
In these fascinating letters to Berwain, Czajkowski details her often solitary life: how she breaks trails by snowshoe with her two pack dogs, encounters grizzly bears, builds a custom stone oven and learns how to use it to bake bread -and spotted dick, a traditional English steamed pudding. The letters also chronicle Czajkowski's challenges and triumphs as she tries to finish her cabin. Food and building supplies must be flown in and Czajkowski must hike more than 30 kilometres to the nearest road to lead guiding trips and to attend craft fairs and book promotions to supplement her income.
Lyrically written, Snowshoes and Spotted Dick provides a close look at a simpler way of life that most of us only dream about, one that cleaves to nature with beauty, resilience and independence.
"...Snowshoes and Spotted Dick is...an enthralling tale of nature and woman, ideas and excitement. In the process of reading this book, you'll meet a rather extraordinary woman and learn what it is really like to live in the true wilderness."
-Dan Hays, Statesman Journal
"One middle-aged woman living remotely amid several thousand square kilometres of largely uninhabited B.C. wilderness. Chris Czajkowski is exceptional to say the least."
-Mike Youds, Daily News
"...The reader is drawn in by expressive language evoking in the imagination pictures of the breathtaking vistas, and natural surrondings...the added mystery of 'what is Spotted Dick?' is a cute grab..."
-Dawn Burnett, The Canadian Field Naturalist
"Oh, and about the spotted dick? Czajkowski will only say it is something she feeds to her guests at Nuk Tessli. I can tell you it's a British food (otherwise she swore me to secrecy). For an exact definition, you'll have to read the book."
-Susan Quinn, Comox Daily Record