Ruth says: Castner canoed the entire Mackenzie River in summer of 2016, from Slave Lake to the Arctic Ocean. His strong writing makes short work of a long paddle, and he brings a profitable haul of stories from the territory, alternating his contemporary travelogue with the journeys of Alexander Mackenzie and other fur-trade voyageurs. Abandon notions of timeless wilderness! Mackenzie’s grueling foray into the unknown in the cold of the Little Ice Age could have happened in another world, compared to Castner’s sunburned and lightning-plagued trip in our hot century. Mackenzie thought he failed to find a Northwest Passage to the Pacific, but he was just 200 years too early for ice-free Arctic shipping routes.
<!--break-->Reading this will make you eager for the thaw so you can launch a canoe and go somewhere. I’m not quite as ambitious as Brian Castner, but I might paddle Palmer Slough all the way to the Pacific.