Farley Mowat's "No Man's River"

In the moments between learning about James, our new baby and making sure that we all eat and sleep, I have been reading Farley Mowat's No Man's River. I've always kept away from his books, I think because they were foisted upon us in high school as examples of Canadian Literature. Generally, in my view, Canadian Literature is about as exciting and heart-rending as Canadian Politics. ZZZZZZZZzz.

But the other day as we wandered about Chapter's bookstore I grabbed the book because it had a picture of an Inuit woman wearing a caribou winter coat, and I want a caribou winter jacket.
"Inland mountain Eskimos experience one of the world’s most extreme winter climates—temperatures of 55 degrees below zero or colder, often with gale force winds and blinding snow. Despite these daunting conditions, Eskimo people carry on with their daily life of hunting, fishing, gathering firewood, traveling, and camping. The key to their success and survival—above all else—is warm, effective, brilliantly designed and expertly made clothing.

The Eskimo people make their warmest clothing from caribou hide—a material that evolved over millions of years in the Arctic environment, providing caribou with unequaled insulation against penetrating cold and gales. Caribou hair is hollow, so it traps insulating air not only between the hairs but also inside them. Clothing made from this material is extraordinarily warm, lightweight, water repellent and durable."

No Man's River is an account of Farley Mowat's adventure and difficult experiences shared with a Metis trapper as they travel over a thousand miles by canoe. The repetitive and basic theme in the cold years following the war was of food gathering and survival, and living off the deer (caribou) and trapping to survive.

If you have seen the movie or read the book Snow Walker, then you'll have a sense of the hardships faced by the native northern inhabitants of Canada. I have learned about the land at the north of Manitoba and Nunavut, the journeys people made, the horrors they faced and the simple living that they reveled in. And I'm only 1/3 of the way through the book.

I highly recommend it.



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