Canoeing the Churchill
University of Regina Press / 18 February 2016

Canoeing the Churchill: A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway by Greg Marchildon and Sid Robinson Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $34.95 ISBN 9-780889-771482 Call me unusual, but activities that require great strength and endurance, are potentially fatal, and involve the outdoors are my idea of a glorious time. Thus it’s not inconceivable that at some point in my life I may participate in an extensive canoe trip, ie: the Churchill River. Now that I’ve read Canoeing the Churchill: A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway, I couldn’t imagine that undertaking without packing along this book, though at a hefty 476 pages, I might be cursing that decision during the many portages on the 1000 km route between Methy Portage and Cumberland House. In this tour de force the authors merge historical fact, journal entries, maps (with all-important entry and exit points), photographs, paintings, legends, a packing list, safety tips, camping suggestions, and so much more while also delivering a veritable stroke-by-stroke (or at least section-to-section) account of what one can expect on this epic journey, including what current services one might find in the various small communities along the route. (If…

House of the White Elephant
Burton House Books / 18 February 2016

House of the White Elephant by Byrna Barclay Published by Burton House Books Review by Tanya Foster ISBN 9780994866905 $20.00 In Byrna Barclay’s most recent novel House of the White Elephant, the character Lewis Hutchinson says to his young daughter, Jesse Emma: “You cannot replace one person with another”. Yet, the compulsion to replace his first wife drives Lewis and, at first, it secures his posterity but, ultimately, alienates his children. Not only is Lewis impassioned about having an Elizabeth in his life, he is equally obsessed with compensating for his dark skin and questionable parentage. These compulsions are the metaphorical rivers that dominate the lives of the characters in the novel: at times, the rivers are life-giving and freeing, but mostly they are frozen rivers that keep the characters from moving on. In this historical novel, Barclay extends the river metaphor across continents and generations to reveal the steady-flowing influence of ancestry, history, and ethnicity on subsequent generations. The opening line of the novel—“The ice on the river is breaking up”—establishes the river metaphor that flows throughout the novel. The river of this novel is not a literal river, not the Ganges, not the Thames, not the North Saskatchewan;…