The Silence of the North

The Silence of the North - Olive A. Fredrickson, Ben East

"Will you be all right?" Jack Hamilton asked before he left.

"I'll be all right," I told him firmly.

All Right? I wondered. I was twenty-six, a homesteader-trapper's widow with three little children, one hundred and sixty acres of brush-grown land, almost none of it cleared, a small log house, an old .30-30 Winchester-and precious little else."



Much as I would like to be able to imagine what it must be like to live in place that is remote and wild, I can't. Even less when I try to imagine what it must have been like to try and live in a very remote part of the world before telephones were available, before even roads were built, before people had ready access to transportation of any kind other than their own two feet. To imagine what it would be like to have to spend near enough every waking hour on the hunt for food and wood just in order to survive is just as difficult.


It is all the more important to me that books like The Silence of the North are kept in print. Fredrickson may not be the best story-teller or the most skilled at writing, but do I really care how she tells her story when the story itself is so staggeringly amazing?


It is not even 100 years ago that Fredrickson set out - first with her family, then with her husband - to live in the largely undeveloped parts of western Canada. Her encounters with the elements and the wild life - wolves, bears, moose, you name it - strongly reminded me of Jack London's stories, except that Fredrickson's memoirs were less poetic and also treated wild animals with the respect they deserve.Close encounters would often result in a fight for survival.