In an August, 1895 edition The New York Times ran a review of a new book, ‘The Land of the Muskeg’ by H. Somers Somerset. Mr. Somerset had ventured a journey from Athapaska Landing to civilization at Quesnel, B.C. , afterwards recording the experience in print (available, in 1895, for $4).
According to the Times, “‘The Land of the Muskeg’ shows English pluck, a cheerful endurance of privations, and is written in a pleasant and amusing manner.” Poor Mr. Somerset did, after all, run into nothing but bears, rain, snow and mosquitoes in the “godforsaken land” of Northern Alberta. Considering the “uncomfortable characteristics” of the “swamp of a peculiarly aggravating kind” that had him “sleeping in a puddle night after night” and only narrowly dodging lumbago and rheumatism, it’s not surprising that Mr. Somerset felt there was “a conspiracy of silence about worthless British possessions.” It is rather amusing to read about someone else suffering such things.
For all the hardships, Mr. Somerset did find some places he liked over here in the Canadian wilderness: notably Dunvegan, which is mentioned often.
If you think you’d like this amusing, historical read, you can get it free online here (scanned pages of the actual book). It must be a good book if it cost $4 in 1895. It comes with some great pictures and sketches by Mr. A. Hungerford Pollen. It isn’t anywhere near politically correct a century later, but that’s history for you.
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