Walking on the Land

by Farley Mowat

Hardcover, 2000




Toronto, Ont. : Key Porter Books, c2000.


No one has written as passionately or as articulately about the Arctic and its people as Farley Mowat. In Walking on the Land, he returns to write about the Arctic for the first time in two decades. Using a seminal trip he took through the eastern Arctic as his starting point, Mowat interweaves the stories and the fate of the Barrenground Inuit who were his friends with stunning, lyrical description of the land that was their traditional homeland. With great beauty and terrible anguish, Mowat traces the history of the Barrenground Inuit, revealing how the decimation of the caribou herds in the early part of the century, unleashed a series of famines and epidemics that virtually wiped out their population and left them reliant on a far-away government that understood too little of their needs and circumstances. Through his continued friendship with the survivors, Mowat brings us into the present, showing how the remnant population has survived. No Mowat work is complete without a cast of larger-than-life characters and his trademark marvellous storytelling. Walking on the Land is no exception. Old-time Hudson's Bay company men, eccentric priests, wild bush pilots and well-meaning interlopers people the pages, bringing to life one of Canada's most haunted places.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member redcedar
another canadian whose work is rooted in the intricacies of land and culture, Mowat’s work Walking on the Land is a painful portait of the north in the 1940s and 50s when white euro-canadians were finally getting around to destroying the lives of the indigenous people there. this book is the
Show More
story of the Ilhalmiut people who were moved around by the canadian government producing the “unwitting genocide€? that saw people starved and driven to desparate measures in order to survive. mowat’s writing is informed by his desire “to help ensure that man’s inhumane acts are not expunged from memory, thereby easing the way for repetitions of such horrors, â€? - and there is no question this gripping work is a reminder of a past both recent and shameful. very few books make me cry outloud, but this one did.
Show Less
LibraryThing member sageness
Gah. Heartwrenching and at times stomach-turning true story of a tiny Inuit community in the 1950s. Published in 2001, Mowat did NOT write this story when he published People of the Deer in the late 50s because this was deemed too horrific.

The GLBT-interest tag is used because the male rural
Show More
settlement nurse was raping the men and boys of the village -- and they couldn't lock him up because he was the only person qualified to administer care to the ill.

Mowat was about 80 when he wrote this book and he mellowed considerably. There's anger in the book, but mostly helpless grief for the needless deaths of all those people he knew.

What I'm most left with is the impression of 1950s Canada as a place with a fundamental absence of sane leadership. Crazy missionaries. Autocratic RCMP post-heads. Inuit who, against all logic, stayed where they were instead of packing up and moving someplace with food. If there's a rational explanation for any of this, Mowat doesn't give it. And I don't get it. I would sled or canoe or walk until I found a community to take me in; this whole lying down to die thing is almost as bad as the white leadership's criminal neglect of their obligations.

My American frontierism is showing, I know, but honestly. *headdesk*
Show Less



Page: 0.3182 seconds