Prisoners of the North

Prisoners of the North

Paperback - 2004
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Canada's master storyteller returns to the North to chronicle the extraordinary stories of five inspiring and controversial characters.

Canada's master storyteller returns to the North to bring history to life. Prisoners of the North tells the extraordinary stories of five inspiring and controversial characters whose adventures in Canada's frozen wilderness are no less fascinating today than they were a hundred years ago.

We meet Joseph Boyle, the self-made millionaire gold prospector from Woodstock, Ontario, who went off to the Great War with the word "Yukon" inscribed on his shoulder straps, and solid-gold maple-leaf lapel badges. There he survived several scrapes with rogue Bolsheviks, earned the admiration of Trotsky, saved Romania from the advancing Germans, and entered into a passionate affair with its queen.

We meet Vilhjalmur Steffansson, who knew every corner of the Canadian North better than any explorer. His claim to have discovered a tribe of "Blond Eskimos" brought him world-wide attention and landed him in controversy that would dog him the rest of his life.

There is John Hornby, the eccentric public-school Englishman so enthralled with the Barren Grounds where he lived that he finally starved to death there with the two young men who had joined his adventures.

Berton gives us a riveting account of the contradictory life of Robert Service -- a world-famous poet whose self-effacement was completely at odds with his public persona.

And we meet the extraordinary Lady Jane Franklin, who belied every last stereotype about Victorian women with her immense determination, energy, and sense of adventure. She travelled more widely than even her famous explorer husband, Sir John. And her indefatigable efforts to find him after his disappearance were legendary.

A Yukoner himself, Berton weaves these tales of courage, fortitude, and reckless lust for adventure with a love for Canada's harsh north. With his sharp eye for detail and faultless ear for a good story, Pierre Berton shows once again why he is Canada's favourite historian.

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : Doubleday Canada, c2004.
ISBN: 9780385660471
Characteristics: 328 pages :,illustrations, portraits ;,25 cm.


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rb3221 Mar 22, 2015

Overall five amazing stories. I especially enjoyed Lady Franklin's long and persistent pursuit of her missing husband and the HMS Erebus, considering that the ship was just discovered in the fall of 2014. Well written.

May 27, 2013

May 26, 2013....finished "The Seal Wife" and as I was at the cabin, picked this out to fill in my reading time until I got back home. Started the story on "Joe Boyle". Well he certainly was an interesting character. A "get it done" kind of guy. Not someone that you would want as a relative, or a husband though. This certainly was a great pick for a fill in read......May 27th...back home and almost finished Joe's story. Great read.....May 31, just a note on a kind of weird coincidence.....I have had this book kicking around at the cabin for many years, I read a bit of it, and then when I go to the library to volunteer....what is sitting on the rack to get shelved?....this book. Kinda weird! July 3, 2013....left my other book at home, so started Joe Boyle's story over. (I had forgotten so much) Hopefully I will retain more with this second reading! He really was an amazing go getter, and such a rotten husband/father/brother! July 9, just finished Joe Boyle's story, he died of heart disease, and had a stroke at a fairly early age. He didn't drink or smoke, must have been that type A personality that got him! Anyway, he got things done, but didn't carry through with minor details of financial sorts. Kind of "I like adventure, but be damned with the boring details of life." A hero/loser. Interesting. I'll read another story from this book, in between other books.

Jul 03, 2011

Not as good as 'My Country' but still good. Five longer sketches of Canadians whom many have forgotten.

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