SPIRIT OF THE YUKON
June Cruickshank Lunny
Volume 21 Number 3
June Lunny really co-wrote this book with her father, Andrew Cruickshank, a heroic English-born aviator who died in a plane crash in 1932 north of Great Slave Lake. Lunny's father died when she was a baby, but her relatives in England saved letters her father had written to them during World War I and from Canada in the early 1920s. The letters describe Andrew's experiences in the war and in Canada, and the reader will be astonished to find that a man who accomplished so much in his short life had time to write such informative and thoughtful prose.
Lunny's words fill in the gaps between her father's letters, and she capably locates her father's story within the history of Canada's North and West.
Cruickshank arrived in Saskatchewan in 1921, where he worked on his uncle's farm. In 1923 he trained to be a Mountie, and was soon posted to Dawson. His letters from this period tell of a life filled with adventure, and would make fascinating reading for Canadian history students studying the opening of Canada's North.
In 1927 Cruickshank changed careers Again, when he and two other men formed Yukon Airways. The three men commissioned an airplane from the Ryan Aircraft Company in San Diego, but agreed to wait an extra two months when Charles Lindbergh asked if he could have their plane in order to beat his competitors for the first non-stop Atlantic crossing. The plane built for Cruickshank and his associates was a replica of Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. Cruickshank went down to San Diego to pick up Queen of the Yukon, and then spent some time in the U.S. barnstorming to make money to pay the duty on the plane.
By late 1928 Cruickshank had left Yukon Airways and joined Western Canada Airways. While with this airline he was involved in a major search operation for eight men missing on a northern aerial exploration mission. The men were missing for over two months, and during that time Cruickshank helped organize and carry out the "MacAlpine Rescue."
Aviators who read this book will appreciate the tremendous difficulties pilots encountered when operating in the frigid north. All readers will marvel at the daring exploits of a man who faced tremendous hardships with unfailing optimism.
The book would be a valuable addition to a supplementary reading list for high school Canadian history, and librarians will find exciting material here for a Canadian history book talk. Browsers will appreciate the many well-reproduced black-and-white photographs, and readers will find the use of italics for Andrew Cruickshank's words a helpful guide.
I recommend Spirit of the Yukon as a worthwhile but not essential purchase for both high school and public libraries.
Brenda Reed is the librarian at Bishop's College School in Lennoxville, Quebec.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers
Young Canada Works