________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 3 . . . . October 1, 2004


Klondike Joe Boyle: Heroic Adventures from Gold Fields to Battlefields. (Amazing Stories).

Stan Sauerwein.
Canmore, AB: Altitude Publishing (Distributed by Saunders Book Company), 2003.
139 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55153-969-1.

Subject Headings:
Boyle, Joe, 1867-1923.
Adventure and adventurers-Canada-Biography.
Gold miners-Yukon Territory-Biography.
Yukon Territory-Biography.

Grades 4-9 / Ages 9-14.

Review by Linda Ludke.



Woodstock was too sleepy a place for restless 17-year-old Joe. His father had once again begun to participate in American racing events and Joe had only his mother and sister to keep him entertained. Longing for a different life, he set out that summer on a roundabout route that took him through the northeastern states before he landed in New York. There, he took up horse work with his father. Joe often stayed with his older brothers in the Kelsey House, a hotel on Lower Broadway, because it gave him the freedom to wander the city away from his father's watchful eye. Often disappearing for hours at a time, Joe would visit the harbour, stare at the clippers, and listen enraptured to the colourful tales of strange ports and dark-eyed women.


Stan Sauerwein recounts the incredible life story of an "unsung national hero." Joe Boyle left his home in Woodstock, Ontario, in 1885 when he was 17. In his search for adventure, he joined the crew of a ship heading to India and survived many storms at sea. This was just the beginning of many exciting experiences. Back on land, he proved himself to be a jack-of-all-trades and became not only a boxing promoter, but he also led an expedition to blaze a trail to the Klondike over the White Pass. His shrewd business sense earned him the nickname "King of the Klondike."

     When World War I started, he was 46 and too old to serve in the military, but he paid for and organized "Boyle's Battery," an outfit of 50 men for overseas service. He also became an advisor on the operation of Russian railways. His involvement in the war included almost unbelievable acts of daring and courage. Not only did he transport the Romanian crown jewels to safety, but he also became a spy for the Allies. His romance with Romania's Queen Marie is also explored.

     Excerpts from letters, diaries, the Dawson Daily News, and military reports add to the authenticity of the book. Four black and white photographs complement the text. One is from Boyle's Klondike years, and he is pictured with his friend, "Swiftriver Bill Gates." A 1918 photograph shows Boyle recovering from a stroke, with the same steely-eyed determination.

     This action-packed biography reads like an adventure story. Boyle is portrayed as a charismatic character and great leader but also as a man with faults. His work for the relief of Romania's war-displaced and starving earned him the Romanian Order of the Crown and the moniker "Saviour of Romania." But he is little known in Canada, and as the epilogue states, "It took 60 years before the Royal Canadian Legion in Joe's hometown of Woodstock repatriated the hero's body on April 20, 1983."

     A good addition to public and school libraries.


Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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