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Notes from a Life in Shield Country
by Jake Macdonald
- Language: english
- Publisher: McClelland and Stewart
- Author: Jake Macdonald
- ISBN: 9780771054037 (0771054033)
- Awards: McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award (2002), Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction (2002)
- Format: hardcover, 304 pages
- Genres: canada, memoir
- Release date: September 17, 2002
About The Book
This is the story of Jake MacDonald’s discovery of some of the last wild places in North America. The Precambrian Shield extends from the Arctic, across much of eastern Canada, and south into the United States. When Jake was still a boy, his father built a cottage in Manitoba. It was here that Jake developed a hankering to live in wild places, and why he decided to quit his graduate studies and explore the distant corners of the continent in a second-hand van.
First he worked as a guide, then as an odd-job person, and ultimately, as a kind of hunter-gatherer of stories. He met Inuit hunters who had been mauled by polar bears and Native trappers who walked routinely across thousands of miles of roadless wilderness. He came to know the cops, the tourists, and the Native people. He made friends with the hardy individuals who made a life for themselves in the wilderness: a German soldier imprisoned in northern Ontario in the Second World War who fell in love with the land; a guide who built an extraordinary houseboat out of exotic wood; and a bachelor known as the Prince who lived in a trailer behind a town’s community centre. In telling their stories, Jake MacDonald tells us something about the Shield Country, and something about ourselves.
MacDonald argues that the heart and soul of Canada are to be found in Shield country. On its countless cold lakes, under its impossibly starry skies, we come to know ourselves. Its vastness and indifference show us our limitations and help to define us. This exploration of Shield country is, finally, an exploration of Canada itself.
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