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High Latitudes: An Arctic Journey by Farley…
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High Latitudes: An Arctic Journey

by Farley Mowat

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I struggled with the number of stars to give this book. Perhaps it deserves 3 stars, but I can only say I certainly struggled to get through this book. Farley Mowat , along with a friend and two pilots, travels through what is now Nunavut, the NorthWest Territories and the Yukon. I found the book to be extremely repetitive and rather one sided. Mowat would land in Cape Dorset, Frobisher Bay - now Iqualuit, Clyde, Pond Inlet, Pangnitung,Pelly Bay, Gjoa Haven,Coppermine, Cambridge Bay,Whitehorse, Inuvik, Yellowknife to name but a few of the many places that he visited during this 2 year long trip in the high Arctic.

At each stop, Farely Mowat would repeat his usual spiel on the North - the dreadful nature of the DNA - aka Department of Northern Affairs, the Hudson's Bay Stores which would never work in the North - only a Co- op would work. The homes built for the Inuit people were made cheap plywood and brightly coloured. Garbage was strewn about every place he landed. Canada was completely misguided in attempting bring the Inuit housing, into southern style commerce, the RCMP was for the most part the enemy etc. While there certainly may be truth to this, I found his take on the North to be rather one sided.

Given that at the time, the United States and Canada had the so called DEW line - Defence Early Warning system - which was active during the Cold War - it was inevitable that Canadian Government be in the far North. Further to that - Farley Mowat mentions that the Danish, the United States and the Russians had an interest in trying to settle and use the resources in the north for themselves - I feel that Farley Mowat could have given a less one sided view of how Canada handled the North. By no means do I think we did it well- but if the US, Denmark or Russia had asserted sovereignty over the area - which is still a concern - would the Inuit of the North be better off?'

Did Canada really have a choice but to develop and protect the North to some extent? This book has made me curious to read the other side of the story.

I also felt that Farely Mowat could have told this tale in about 100 pages rather than 300 pages. To give him some credit, I'm sure he was ahead of his time as far as criticizing Northern Policies and his concern for the evironment in the North.

Despite my criticism of this book, I do agree with the words of Margaret Atwood - Love or resent him , he's now an Ancestral Totem whether he likes it or not.

If nothing else, Farley Mowat has really made me more aware of the socialogical problems in the Far North and I'm sure I'll be reading more in that area . ( )
2 vote vancouverdeb | Oct 28, 2010 |
Written in 2002, High Latitudes is Farley Mowat's account of his trip through the upper regions of Canada's territories in 1966. A little of Mowat's crankiness goes a long way, but luckily he taped conversations with "natives" and "whites" who lived in the villages and settlements along his route, and they are presented here. Transcribed verbatim, they make for fascinating reading, and I salute Mowat for giving over so much of his book to these people who need to be heard. Includes a good map, well marked, showing the progress of their trip, as well as giving the reader a good sense of the vastness and isolation of this region. ( )
1 vote y2pk | Aug 13, 2010 |
This is a description of the changes in the Arctic region of Canada from the 1960's to the present, telling of the effects on the native people by the introduction of the 'white man's culture'. ( )
  margojamieson | Aug 25, 2009 |
I’ve got a soft spot for Mowat. He’s the Don Cherry of environmentalism. He’s the cranky opinionated guy that I too often find myself agreeing with!

In High Latitudes, Mowat recounts his 1966 trip through the Canadian arctic. This book is more than a Mowat tale—there are extended sections where Mowat inserts verbatim interviews with people he met in the north.

The book rambles and seems a little too long at times. The only narrative thread holding the work together is the map of the trip. Still, there’s something compelling about Mowat’s passion for the arctic. ( )
1 vote StephenBarkley | Jul 22, 2009 |
A look at western cultural influence on native peoples in the Canadian Arctic. ( )
  JBreedlove | Jan 13, 2006 |
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"In High Latitudes Farley Mowat chronicles for the first time a sometimes hazardous journey he took across northern Canada in 1966. He hoped to write a book that would let northern people speak for themselves and that would expose the speciousness of the political idea that the North was "a bloody great wasteland" with no people in it, and therefore resource developers could exploit it however they chose. For reasons Mowat describes that book did not get written then. But here it is now, with the original conversations recorded by Mowat during that epic journey. In vintage Mowat fashion the legendary writer delivers a narrative brimming with nature writing, storytelling, larger-than-life characters, ferocious humor, pitiless rage, iconoclastic insights, and compassionate concern."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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