THE MEN OF THE LAST FRONTIER.
Grey Owl.Toronto. Macmillan, 1989. 253pp. paper, 5.95, ISBN 0-7715-9292-2. (Macmillan Paperback series #42). CIP
Volume 17 Number 3
Archie Belaney was a fraud. An Englishman who immigrated to Canada because of his interest in Indians, he was so taken by their way of life that, impossible as it is to do, he became oneóor he at least managed to convince a goodly portion of the literary world of the 1930ís that he was one.
This is the first of his books, originally published in 1931. It describes the life-style of the men of the woods. Grey Owl describes the hardships these men (and they were all men, this being 1930) faced in their efforts to keep the ladies of Toronto and New York in furs. The text is liberally laced with descriptions of the kinds of deaths that went hand in hand with getting the furs to market.
Although this book is about the Indians, trappers and woodsmen of the northern forests. Grey Owl the environmentalist is already there in the writing: ďAnd the dark masses of the forest seemed to roll up ... fleeing in the face of the doom that had threatened them now for three hundred years." It is for this reason that I would recommend the book. Cut through the flowery language and run-on sentence, the book should be read in the context of its time and compared to what is happening in 1989.
If your collection doesn't include the writings of Grey Owl, it probably should. Their historical interest increases steadily with each new study that shows the damage mankind is doing to the environment.
Sharon A. McLennan McCue, Ottawa, Ont.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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