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New Books About the North

By 49thShelf
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Climate change means that the stories of Canada's north have never been more relevant to the rest of the country. Here is a selection of new books that illustrate the landscapes, stories and people of this important and ever-changing region.
Boundless

Boundless

Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook

The long-awaited follow up to Annabel and Kathleen Winter’s first work of narrative nonfiction.

In 2010, bestselling author Kathleen Winter took a journey across the storied Northwest Passage, among marine scientists, historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and curious passengers. From Greenland to Baffin Island and all along the passage, Winter bears witness to the new math of the melting North — where polar bears mate with grizzlies, creating a new hybrid species; where the earth is on …

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Kinds of Winter

Kinds of Winter

Four Solo Journeys by Dogteam in Canada’s Northwest Territories
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover

After a fifteen-year career as a sled dog racer, musher Dave Olesen turned his focus away from competition and set out to fulfill a lifelong dream. Over the course of four successive winters he steered his dogs and sled on long trips away from his remote Northwest Territories homestead, setting out in turn to the four cardinal compass points—south, east, north, and west—and home again to Hoarfrost River.

His narrative ranges from the personal and poignant musings of a dogsled driver to loftie …

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Excerpt

Excerpt from Kinds of Winter: Four Solo Journeys by Dogteam in Canada's Northwest Territories by Dave Olesen

From North

I was getting out there again. We had left the home watershed behind, and the familiar trails leading up it, and the little bastion of coziness at Maufelly Bay. From my journal:

“My world has narrowed to the contents of my sled, these ten dogs, my clothing and the things I always carry in my pockets—”matches, knife, pliers, cord . . . Strip all of it away and I would die almost instantly. The cold and the vastness together would do me in. My caches are miles apart. I creep carefully, cautiously, from one to the next. An odd sensation like vertigo sweeps over me at times, in my mind and the pit of my stomach, and I have to breathe deeply and muster my resolve. The feeling is similar to an unnerving sensation I sometimes conjure up when I am flying the Husky: suddenly I see myself all alone—”the plane and its engine have vanished. It is just me up there, strapped into my tiny chair, suspended a mile or more above the earth. ”

My lead dog Steve had been favouring his right wrist since our midday break just north of Fletcher. In camp that night I heated some Algavyl salve and rubbed it in, then wrapped his wrist and lower leg with a neoprene brace. The pungent smell of the liniment flooded my mind with memories of the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest races. I imagine it did the same for Steve, B. J. , and Murphy, who were the only race veterans in that team of ten dogs. Since we were not racing, I was free to treat Steve with aspirin, and I gave him a coated 325 milligram tablet. By the next morning he was still favouring the wrist slightly, but he was putting a little weight on it again.

Taken together, Steve’s bum wrist and the weather seemed to call for a rest day. It was day six of the trip and we were about a hundred miles out from home. In my journal I recorded the morning weather, and although it looked harmless enough when written down, there was something about it I did not trust: minus 20 degrees, very light snow, visibility four or five miles, the sky overcast at about 400 feet, and a light breeze from the east. I had no barometer, but I guessed that the pressure was rapidly falling. Something was going to happen.

From West

The book will not be “it” anyway. “It” is the trips themselves, and my belief in the importance of them. “It” is Robert Lake, the Noman portage, 46 below at the Thelon cache, frozen dog dicks and frozen toes, the surprise of a mild February day way up on the Back River, our arrival at Moraine Point . . . “It” is the country deep down, felt and seen and slept with, mile by mile, by dogtrot and snowshoe step. The landscape is a part of me now in a way that it was not a part of me four years ago. “It” is that visceral connection, beyond the realm of language.

Lines of caribou trails in snow dropped down from the steep prow of Gibraltar Point; “More a place for mountain goats than caribou,” I remarked to the dogs. We had not crossed a caribou track since our passage down McLeod Bay on that first evening of the trip. By late afternoon we had picked up the traces of our outbound trail from that first night’s run. The dogs clearly knew we were coming into the home stretch. A few hundred yards ahead of the lead dogs a wolverine loped across the ice, making as close to a flat-out sprint for safety as a wolverine can muster. We were no threat to it, but Spruce was eager to veer off and give chase. The long patch of glare ice abeam Shelter Point was still polished smooth. Ernie, the only dog in the team who was wearing booties that day, started to slip and skid wildly. I stopped and took his booties off, giving him back the use of his toenails for traction. “Feet heal faster than shoulders,” as old Ray Gordon had once reminded me during a race.

That evening, rolling down the shore between Shelter Bay and Sentinel Point, the day’s mild air gradually cooled as the shadow of the high cliffs fell over us. With the dogs still moving gracefully, almost effortlessly, a light north breeze puffing up, caribou and wolf tracks here and there . . . I wanted it never to end. A voice in my mind asked,”Please can I just do this—”this right now—forever? And never have to submit an amendment to an airplane maintenance schedule or pay my bills or buy groceries or consider what I am going to do when I am old and can’t do this anymore? Can’t we just run and run and then, in one perfect moment, like Mallory on the shoulder of Everest, just vanish forever into this cold clean air?“ Long pause. “Nope. You can’t. You have to go in. Hell, let’s face it Olesen, you want to go in.

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Circling The Midnight Sun

Circling The Midnight Sun

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook
tagged :

Over the course of three years, Jim Raffan, seasoned traveller and bestselling author-circumnavigated the globe at 66.5 degrees latitude: the Arctic Circle. Armed with his passion for the north, his interest in diverse cultures and his unquenchable sense of adventure, he set out to put a human face on climate change. What he discovered was by turns shocking, frustrating, entertaining and enlightening. In Circling the Midnight Sun, Raffan presents a warm-hearted, engaging portrait of the circumpo …

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Our Ice Is Vanishing / Sikuvut Nunguliqtuq

Our Ice Is Vanishing / Sikuvut Nunguliqtuq

A History of Inuit, Newcomers, and Climate Change
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook

The Arctic is ruled by ice. For Inuit, it is a highway, a hunting ground, and the platform on which life is lived. While the international community argues about sovereignty, security, and resource development at the top of the world, the Inuit remind us that they are the original inhabitants of this magnificent place - and that it is undergoing a dangerous transformation. The Arctic ice is melting at an alarming rate and Inuit have become the direct witnesses and messengers of climate change. T …

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Burning Daylight

Burning Daylight

edition:Paperback

Musical theatre meets poetry in Burning Daylight, a poetry collection and song cycle drawing together the Yukon Gold Rush of the early 20th century and the Arctic iron ore mining mega-projects of the modern day. Through a feminist lens, it examines dislocation, isolation, family and frailty, reflected in our relationship with the ever-changing northern landscape.

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Polar Winds

Polar Winds

A Century of Flying the North
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Polar Winds traces a century of northern flight from balloonatics to bush pilots and beyond.

"They were all gamblers and fortune seekers. They did things on their own — were independent people who wanted to be free to roam. They were good people, but, of course, some were loners or escapists. They all depended strictly on their wits."
Joe McBryan, pilot and owner of Yellowknife-based Buffalo Airways, was talking about gold prospectors in the 1940s when he said this, but he could just as eas …

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John Rae's Arctic Correspondence, 1844-1855

John Rae's Arctic Correspondence, 1844-1855

by John Rae
foreword by Ken McGoogan
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Although Arctic explorer and Hudson Bay Company surveyor John Rae (1813–1893) travelled and recorded the final uncharted sections of the Northwest Passage, he is best known for his controversial discovery of the fate of the lost Franklin Expedition of 1845. Based on evidence given to him by local Inuit, Rae determined that Franklin’s crew had resorted to cannibalism in their final, desperate days. Seen as maligning a national hero, Rae was shunned by British society.

This collection of person …

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Search for Heinrich Schlögel, The

Search for Heinrich Schlögel, The

edition:Paperback
tagged :

The story of a young man who escapes the claustrophobia of small-town Germany by travelling to Canada, where he sets out on a long solo hike into the interior of Baffin Island. Soon time begins to play tricks on him. Yanked from the twentieth century and deposited in the twenty-first, Heinrich lands in a disorienting, digital Present where a computer-nimble Pangnirtung teenager befriends him. She lives with her grandmother who rents Heinrich a room. | "Capacious, capricious, mischievous, The Sea …

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