WINNER OF THE RBC TAYLOR PRIZE "Every day on a bike trip is like the one before--but it is also completely different, or perhaps you are different, woken up in new ways by the mile."
As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she most craved--that of a generalist explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and philosopher--had gone extinct. From her small-town home in Ontario, it seemed as if Marco Polo, Magellan and their like had long ago mapped the whole earth. So she vowed to become a scientist and go to Mars.
To pass the time before she could launch into outer space, Kate set off by bicycle down a short section of the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel Yule, then settled down to study at Oxford and MIT. Eventually the truth dawned on her: an explorer, in any day and age, is by definition the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. And Harris had soared most fully out of bounds right here on Earth, travelling a bygone trading route on her bicycle. So she quit the laboratory and hit the Silk Road again with Mel, this time determined to bike it from the beginning to end.
Like Rebecca Solnit and Pico Iyer before her, Kate Harris offers a travel narrative at once exuberant and meditative, wry and rapturous. Weaving adventure and deep reflection with the history of science and exploration, Lands of Lost Borders explores the nature of limits and the wildness of a world that, like the self and like the stars, can never be fully mapped.
Our 2019 Jack Matthews Fellow is the author and adventurer Kate Harris, whose first book, Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road, is a national bestseller and multiple award-winner (including the prestigious 2019 RBC Taylor Prize).
Our curator Jeremy Ward, ED Carolyn Hyslop and Director of External Relations James Raffan had the opportunity to hear Kate speak at the Wilderness Canoe Symposium last fall, and meet Kate in person. We knew immediately that we wanted to welcome her to the Museum to share her riveting story with our community.