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Northern History

History Hunting in the Yukon
by Michael Gates
256 pages
Lost Moose, 2010.

Conspiracies to overthrow the Yukon; terrorism in the Klondike;a bigamist Klondike Casanova; gunfights and how the Mounties got their man; Robert Service's secret love life; the Canadian who fooled Alaskans into making him governor; floods, famine and things found frozen from the past. The Yukon has them all - and more! Dipping into his personal experiences and a 40-year love affair with Yukon history, author Michael Gates takes us on a journey to some of the places, people and events that make the Yukon eternally captivating. Discover the colourful stories and deeper legacy of human history that has occurred upon this remote and expansive territory.

Alaska 1899: Essays from the Harriman Expedition
by George Bird Grinnell (Seattle: University of Washington, 1995)
The Harriman reports were originally published in 11 volumes between 1901 and 1905 - this new volume on Alaskan cultures, with explanatory notes by Polly Burroughs and Victoria Wyatt, makes this fascinating journey accessible to all of us. Softcover.

Alaska Pioneer Interiors: An Annotated Photographic File
by Jane G. Haigh (Tanana Yukon Historical Society, 1986)
See how Alaska's pioneers lived - from the rough log cabins and shacks to the elaborate Victorian decor of some of the city homes. Paperback.

Chilkoot Trail, Heritage Route to the Klondike
by David Neufeld and Frank B. Norris (Whitehorse, YT: Lost Moose, 1996)
Good history, written by two professionals, but broken up into small, easy-to-read chunks for those times when you want some new ground to cover, but not something 'heavy.' Hundreds of photographs. Softcover, 192 pages.

Blazing Alaska's Trails
by Alfred Hulse Brooks (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 1973)
Originally written between 1914 and 1922 as 27 separate essays by USGS head Brooks, this book remains one of the classic early histories of Alaska, and is one of the most-used reference works in my personal library. Hardcover, 567 pages.

Buildings of Alaska
by Alison K. Hoagland (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993)
Part of a huge national project by the Society of Architectural Historians, this superb reference book describes hundreds of structures, from Eskimo igloos to buildings of the 1980s. Paperback.

Children of the Gold Rush
by Claire Rudolph Murphy and Jane G. Haigh (Roberts Rinehart, 1999)
With the huge number of books that are available on the Klondike Gold Rush, it's always a pleasure to see a new viewpoint being used. There are now several books dealing with the part played in the development of the North by women, but this is the first time that children have been the focus. The stories in the book range from sad and introspective to comical. Paperback. Read a full review at ExploreNorth.

Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska
by William W. Fitzhugh and Aron Crowell (Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 1988)
A wonderful example of how to combine in-depth research with entertainment, this 360-page volume has hundreds of black-&-white and color photographs. Paperback.

The Cruise of the Corwin
by John Muir
Originally published in 1917, reprinted many times. In spring of 1881 John Muir set out on the ship Corwin for a journey of 15,000 nautical miles from San Francisco into the Arctic sea. The purpose of the voyage was to search for three ships that had been lost in the area, and to verify the local fleet's compliance with international seal and otter hunting regulations. Muir went along because of his fascination with glaciers. He was also drawn by the call of one of the world's last unexplored coastlines, and this book displays his love of and respect for the region.

Frozen in Silver: The Life and Frontier Photography of P. E. Larson
by Ronald T. Bailey (Ohio University Press, 1998)
A thorough and well-written biography of a little-known pioneer Yukon/Alaska photographer, more commonly known as P. Edward Larss, a parter of E. A. Hegg, and arguably the more talented of the two. Many photographs, including some signed by Hegg, but thought to be taken by Larss (later Anglicized to Larson). Softcover, 300 pages.

The Great Reindeer Caper: The Missionary and the Miners
by Peter M. Rinaldo (DorPete Press, 1997)
The story of a disasterous relief expedition launched by the US Army in 1897 to drive a herd of reindeer to Dawson City to feed starving miners. For a related article, see 'The Snow Conqueror' Steam Tractor.

The Haunted Igloo
by Bonnie Turner (1st Books, 2001)
Set in the 1930s, this children's Arctic novel is an exciting story of ordeal and courage, of friendship and loyalty. Readers will sympathize immediately with young Jean-Paul and will be charmed by Sasha, the beautiful husky puppy that steals everyone's heart.

Klondike '98: E. A. Hegg's Gold Rush Album
by Ethel Anderson Becker (Binford & Mort, 1967)
One of the best collections yet published of Hegg's photos of the Stampede, taken under incredibly difficult conditions. The publication was originally reviewed positively by Hegg himself in 1945. Hardcover.

The Mackenzie: Yesterday and Beyond
by Alfred Aquilina (Hancock House, 1981)
This book offers an overview of the history of the Mackenzie River region so that the present can be experienced and appreciated more fully. The many photographs, maps, and original poetry provide the reader with a personal view of this most enchanting area of wild Canadian north country. It is factual and comprehensive enough, though, to have been used as a text book in the cultural inclusion program of the NWT schools.

Mackenzie Breakup
by Jean Kadmon (Whitehorse, YT: Pathfinder, 1997)
In 1943, Jean Kadmon worked on the Canol Pipeline Project as a clerk-typist. Now she has brought that world to life in this historical novel, which draws you in to that world, absorbing you in the lives, thoughts and interactions of the many well designed characters. This is the only book yet produced on the Canol. Softcover, 252 pages.

One Man's Gold Rush: A Klondike Album
by Murray Morgan (Seattle: University of Washington, 1995)
Morgan presents an excellent cross-section of Hegg's photography, and his life, from Washington State logging images, through the Chilkoot Pass to the mines and dancehalls of the Klondike, and on to Nome.

In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun
Harald Gaski, editor (Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1998)
A lengthy introduction by Gaski presents the culture of the Sami people, and 21 contemporary authors provide a look at a broad spectrum of Sami life, from love poetry to tales of struggles against oppression. For students of the Sami, this is a must-read.

Song of the River
Sue Harrison (New York: Avon, 1998)
A complex plot, excellent character development and attention to historical detail combine in this fascinating tale, Harrison's 4th novel. Chakiux the storyteller roams the western part of prehistoric Alaska, and we join him in exploring details of those cultures, and the spectrum of human character that has probably changed little over the ages. Click here for my full review.

Tlingit: Their Art, Culture & Legends
by Dan and Nan Kaiper (Saanichton, BC: Hancock House, 1978)
An introduction to the culture and art of the Tlingit and other Northwest Coast peoples.

Three Years in the Klondike
by Jeremiah Lynch (Santa Barbara, CA: The Narrative Press, 2001)
This classic Klondike story, subtitled A Gold Miner's Life in Dawson City, 1898-1901 and originally published in 1904, has now been reprinted. Lynch was a businessman and former San Francisco politician who went to the Klondike in 1898. He describes his three years in and around Dawson City as a miner and a merchant. His narrative is an articulate and highly colourful observation of the characters and the social environment of gold rush Dawson. Softcover.

Whales Ice and Men: The History of Whaling in the Western Arctic
by John R. Bockstoce (Seattle: University of Washington, 1995)
In its 400 pages, this volume brings to life the excitement and danger of whaling in the "icy seas." Bockstoce's painstaking research and engaging writing style has resulted in a reference book that is also a pleasure to read. Many photos. Softcover.