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Archie Hunter.

Victoria, Sono Nis Press, c1983.
151pp, cloth, $13.95.
ISBN 0-919703-38-8.

Grades 9 and up.
Reviewed by Robin T. Lewis.

Volume 11 Number 5.
1983 September.

"Battered by pounding waves and rafting ice, there was little left of our boat. . . Our food was gone and we were faced with a two day hike through wet snow to reach the post. Apart from being decidedly tired and hungry we made it back without further mishap. At $20.00 a month this was turning out to be a great life."

This rough quote indicates the attitude of the young Hudson's Bay clerk who eventually became a district supervisor. His career took him from desolate Repulse Bay, N.W.T., to slightly more civilized posts in northern areas of the western provinces.

Fur trapping and trading is described in full, and sometimes gory, detail. This is occasionally unpleasant perhaps, but it is useful to have a harsh era of our history described by one of the last men to have entered an isolated and largely uncivilized northland.

This book may have been based on short diary entries. Although the numerous brief sections are undated, they are separated from each other by printers’ marks, and the book sometimes suffers from a lack of continuity. On the other hand, it is a rich source of authentic anecdotes about northern traders, trappers, Indians and Inuit.

Archie Hunter's own perceptive photographs portray the northern people and environment he knew from 1925-50. His portraits of the Inuit show them as beautiful, grungy, stoic, and menacing-each of which he found them to be at times.

Some famous explorers, a pig named Denis, and a relatively sane man called "Crazy Mac," are all presented briefly. The raconteur's occasional humour and continual good nature make the book a pleasant one. The trader's keen memory for detail gives an accurate picture of the rugged life and daily duties of a Hudson's Bay Company employee and his family.

Robin T. Lewis, Riverdale H. S., Pierrefonds, QC.
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