Prisoners of the North: Portraits of Five Arctic Immortals by Pierre Berton

By Pierre Berton

The frozen barren region of the some distance North has lengthy confirmed the main severe and reckless of adventurers. In Prisoners of the North, Pierre Berton depicts 5 awesome characters who have been in thrall to the Artic's forbidding landscapes: a mining mogul; an explorer; a titled girl; a backwoods eccentric; and a best-selling poet. Their existence tales supply us a compelling portrait of the Arctic, lengthy ahead of it was once tamed by way of the bush airplane, the snowmobile, and the paved street

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And yet there are cracks in the Boyle legend. He was certainly not a family man. In 1884, at the age of seventeen, just out of Woodstock College, he visited his two elder brothers in New York City. Their relationship cannot have been close. One day the brothers returned to their quarters on lower Broadway to find a scribbled note on the table: “I’ve gone to sea. Don’t worry about me. ” That was all: no explanation, no fond farewells, no hint of his plans or even the name of the ship, nothing. He was gone for the best part of three years, and in all that time they had no word of him—not a whisper, not a note, not a clipping, not a telegram, not even a message for his mother, “a sweet little woman from Dumfries, Scotland,” in Flora Boyle’s words.

Canadian Number Four was still in working order when the successor to Boyle’s company shut it down in 1961. The industrial revolution in the gold country sparked by Boyle had changed the face of the Klondike, and there was no environmentalist movement to protest or prevent it. The low, rolling hills had long since been denuded in the growing hunger for lumber. The broad and verdant valleys were reduced to black scars by the big nozzles that tore at the topsoil and overburden to send the muck and silt coursing down to the big river.

That was the day when the recruits for his machine-gun battery would leave the Yukon for active service. And that was the very day on which Canadian Number Two sank in the Klondike. Boyle worked all day at Bear Creek to help save it. That evening he hurried to Dawson to bid his detachment farewell. ” Then he quietly turned from his place and marched up the street with the crowd. Boyle, ever the man of action, desperately wanted to be where the action was—not in Dawson, declining into a ghost town, but with his brave boys, far from the growing frustrations (financial, mechanical, and legal) that would continue to bedevil him.

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