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Pierre Berton.
Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart, 1989.
391pp., cloth, $26.95.
ISBN 0-7710-1211-X. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Northwest Territories-Description and travel.
Yukon Territory-Description and travel.
Northwest Territories-History.
Yukon Territory-History.

Grades 12 and up / Ages 17 and up

Reviewed by Thomas F. Chambers.

Volume 18 Number 1
1990 January

Pierre Berton should need no introduction to Canadians. He has written a book almost every year since 1954. Many of these, such as The National Dream (McClelland & Stewart, 1970) and The Last Spike (McClelland & Stewart, 1971), his history of the CPR, were bestsellers.

The Mysterious North was originally published in 1956 (McClelland & Stewart), when it won the Governor General's Award for creative nonfiction. It is the result of five visits Berton made to northern Canada over an eight-year period, when he travelled from the Yukon to Baffin Island. In it, Berton mentions some of the interesting characters he met and gives a brief history of the development of each area and some of his predictions for the future. It is written in the typical Berton style and contains many interesting northern anecdotes, which his fans have come to expect. It is also illustrated with some excellent maps, which will prove useful to anyone unfamiliar with northern Canada.

If there is a flaw in The Mysterious North, it is that it seems very dated. Many things have changed in the north in the past thirty years and some of Berton's comments and predictions are out of date and irrelevant. To try to overcome this deficiency, Berton has added a few pages at the end of each section. These are too brief and do not make the book relevant to the 1990s. If anyone wants to read an entertaining 1950s travelogue, this book will be very rewarding, but it will only prove frustrating if one wants a contemporary look at the north.

Thomas F. Chambers, Canadore College of Applied Arts and Technology, North Bay, ON.
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