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Dick North

Toronto, Macmillan, 1991. 284pp, paper, $16.95
ISBN 0-7715-9128-4. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Lillian M. Turner.

Volume 19 Number 4
1991 September

North is now historical consultant and curator of the Jack London Interpre­tation Centre in Dawson City. He previously worked as a seaman, Fisher­ies officer, and newspaper editor in Alaska and the Yukon. He has lived in the north since 1963.

North's latest true saga of the Arctic reminds one, in its sense of drama, of his previous books: The Mad Trapper of Rat River, The Lost Patrol and Trackdown: The Search for the Mad Trapper. The content, however, is completely different, as this covers a drive of 3,000 reindeer from the north­west Alaskan coast to Kittigazuit on the east channel of the Mackenzie delta. The enterprise was commissioned by the Canadian government in 1928 to aid the Inuit in their continual struggle against starvation. Reindeer were chosen because they had been success­fully domesticated in Alaska and Lapland.

The account details the search for a company willing to invest in the under­taking. This, and the choosing of person­nel, Lapps and Inuit, makes fascinating reading. The chosen leader was Andrew Bahr, a Laplander who had settled in Seattle. The drive finally set out in March 1929 for a supposed eighteen-month trek. In actual fact it arrived at its destination in the NWT in March 1935. In the meantime the terrible arctic winter storms, wolf attacks, plagues of mosquitoes, nostril flies, melting tundra and stampedes took their toll on men and animals alike. The fact that they finally arrived at their destination with 2,370 deer is a tribute to their perseverance and endurance. Bahr became known as the "Arctic Moses" for his part in the perilous journey.

The economic aspects of reindeer ranching and its take-over by the U.S. government are touched upon. The Canadian government, on the other hand, soon became indifferent to its responsibilities and turned the herd over to private enterprise, in whose hands the industry has thrived. Arctic Exodus will be a useful resource for geography, history and northern economics. It has maps, eight pages of photographs, detailed bibliographic notes, and a cross-referenced index.

Lillian M. Turner, Board of Education for the City of York, Toronto, Ont.
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