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Doris Neeley Haralson.

Yarrow (BC), Doris Neeley Haralson, c1981.
Distributed by the author, Box 31, Yarrow, BC, V0X2A0.
229pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN 0-9690803-0-1.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by Mary Fallis.

Volume 11 Number 2.
1983 March.

Away from big cities, one can still run in to people who know the stories of those who settled the land by back-breaking work and frequently in isolation. And these stories are now getting written down.

Northland Echoes is the account of a woman's life passed by word of mouth to a younger woman, Doris Neeley Haralson, who was to write the story down after the older woman was gone. It is a straightforward uncomplicated account distinguished by the challenging, frequently critical, experiences in the wilderness and the strength of character of the people who lived through them.

Elizabeth McCoubrey was a twenty-year-old teacher from Wyoming who went to visit a sister who was homesteading with her husband north of Edmonton, the summer of 1912. There she met Tom McCallum, a P.E. Islander who, as a very young boy, had gone west to find a livelihood. En route, he had apprenticed to a blacksmith and learned a trade that he would use the rest of his life as he ran sawmill operations in remote areas.

In their early married life they home-steaded in Thorhild, Alberta, and then at Croydon in the McBride Valley in B.C. Frequently Elizabeth would be left for months in a small cabin while, in the Depression years, Tom went elsewhere to find work.

Eventually he was drawn to the North to run a mill beyond Waterways at the end-of the rail and takeoff point for northern Alberta and the Territories on the Athabaska River. His last mill would be on the Slave River beyond Fort Smith. Elizabeth was there running a cookhouse for the crews of loggers, sometimes serving thirty meals, three times a day, sometimes being left on her own to guard the property.

This part of the story, for anyone interested in the events of the 30s and 40s that led by river travel to the opening up of the MacKenzie Territory and the beginnings of Yellowknife, is very interesting. They saw the buffalo en route to Wood Buffalo Park; they saw pitchblende go by from Great Bear Lake, not knowing what the cargo was nor its destination; they met American soldiers on their way to Norman Wells to work on the Canol Road. And they cherished northern hospitality both as they dispensed and received it.

The great rivers froze in fall and opened with a great rush in spring sometimes flooding far beyond their banks, by their seasonal conditions dictating the activities of the people along their shores.

There are fourteen pages of old black and white pictures and three maps. Recommended as general reading for senior secondary and adult libraries.

Mary Fallis, Prince George, BC.
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