The working life of the distinguished surveyor Guy Blanchet reflects the story of northern Canada in the first half of the twentieth century. Beginning his career in the boreal forests of Alberta and Saskatchewan, using pack horses and dog teams, Blanchet went north to map large areas of the Barrens by canoe, and soon became caught up in pioneer northern aviation. His story encompasses the Great Depression and the Second World War, which in turn led to his work finding the routes for oil pipelines. His life was rich in contacts with First Nations people, and his friendships included most of the well-known northern travellers of the time. While Blanchet did not seek adventure, adventure often found him and he had many narrow escapes. While Blanchet published a number of articles about his experiences, this is the first time his fascinating life story has been told in book form.
While working as a college librarian at Trent University, Gwyneth Hoyle became inspired by the adventures of those who explored and mapped this great country. Her canoe trip down the Thelon River started a fascination with the North, prompting her to research and write many articles as well as two books: Canoeing North Into the Unknown: A Record of River Travel, 1874 to 1974 (Natural Heritage, 1993, 1997) and Flowers in the Snow: The Life of Isobel Wylie Hutchison (University of Nebraska Press, 2001).
This is a very useful piece of work, a good read in itself and a glimpse of life and work in the North when Canada was young but not so young as to be unrecognizable.
Gwyneth Hoyle's biography of Blanchet places the man firmly in his times, usually in context, and always on the snowshoes, in the canoe, and along the survey line that were his life for five decades. Meticulously crafted, this detailed review of the life of a little-known northern legend illuminates the individual as well as the type.
... the author has done such a superb job in telling the story. It is worth reading just to see how a really good biography can be written.
The author … has put together a fascinating picture of what it takes to organize and run an exploration party in the remote bush, for months on end.
Gwyneth Hoyle’s biography of Blanchet places the man firmly in his times…meticulously crafted, this detailed review of the life of a little-known northern legend illuminates the individual as well as the type.
The author, working from Blanchet's diaries, has put together a fascinating picture of what it takes to organize and run an exploration party in the remote bush, for months on end.