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Olive Spencer Loggins.

Victoria, Sono Nis Press, c1983.
171pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN 0-919203-44-3.

Grades 9 and up.
Reviewed by Adele Case.

Volume 11 Number 5.
1983 September.

Tenderfoot Trail is the story of a city-raised mother who pioneered with her husband in the somewhat remote Cariboo. Perhaps life away from the city would not have seemed so promising, had the Depression years not been discouraging for the young couple. At any rate, they took their youth, good sense, and willingness to work hard with them and found these qualities provided capital enough in a region where currency was scarce. Why did they opt for the rather uninhabited Deka Lake region? Free land, for those who would work it. The government allowed settlers to pre-empt portions of unimproved land, and the Spencers felt this windfall offered the key to self sufficiency. Their venture could easily have ended in failure, but they took any hard knocks the outback offered, while enjoying unexpected benefits. Blizzard weather in winter and breaking ice in early spring gave plenty of excitement. Accomplishments? The young wife learned to do a man's work while keeping house and raising her infant son. She was able to help the Indian residents with first aid and remedies, while taking joy in the wilderness and even hearing "grass grow." The neighbourliness of residents, the tradition of hospitality that is a mark of civilized behaviour, and the simple pleasures of get-togethers, music, and conversation make one wonder if this is a life that exists yet, somewhere "up country." Gradually the couple gained confidence as Arthur Spencer raised stock and broke horses; they learned how to cope in all seasons and became ranchers.

One might wonder at the sentimentality of a few recollections, but the sincerity of the author and her honesty in writing of annoyances as well as pleasures makes this more than a candy-coated tale of city folk in the wilds. It may be that the largely money-less, folksy, sharing ways have paled or vanished as the Cariboo has become more peopled. One thing is certain: blithe spirits as keen as Olive Loggins personify the best qualities of Canadians. This readable book is divided into chapters that are entertaining as individual stories. It gives one a taste for the outdoors when the young wife talks of her company dinners, or just-caught lake fish. Recommended.

Adele Case, Britannia S. S., Vancouver, BC.
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