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Sleeping Island: The Narrative of a Summer's Travel in Northern Manitoba and the Northwest Territories

Sleeping Island: The Narrative of a Summer's Travel in Northern Manitoba and the Northwest Territories

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Edited with a new Introduction and Notes by R.H. Cockburn.

A New Improved Edition of this Arctic classic, with many new illustrations from the Downes archives, most not previously published. With an Introduction R.H. Cockburn, a sequel, afterword, epilogue, notes. "As a narrative of an arduous canoe trip, Sleeping Island has few equals. Downes was fortunate to have travelled when he did into little known, unmapped country where natives still lived on the land and there remained a tangible aura of wilderness mystery. Nowadays, fifty years on, the book kindles nostalgia. Here are vivid descriptions of trial and error on rivers and lakes, of poling and paddling, of sweat drenched portaging; columns of smoke rise from bush fires on the horizon, across miles of water; deserted trading posts decay along abandoned trade routes; canoeloads of Chipewyans appear suddenly, down from the Barrens; foul weather and windbound camps are followed by days of surpassing beauty; depression and exhilaration, companionship and separation, are tellingly conveyed. It took Downes and his partner twenty two days to canoe from Brochet, at the north end of Reindeer Lake, to their destination, the HBC's Nueltin Lake post on the Windy River, Northwest Territories. Canoemen today, armed with good maps, carrying freeze dried food, skilled in white water techniques, and paddling lighter, nearly indestructible synthetic canoes, have followed Downes's route in less time, but not, one supposes, with anything approximating his sensation of discovery and accomplishment.