A Journey into Unexplored Wilderness
The enthralling memoir of a 1930s couple whose passion for nature led them on a winter’s-long hunting trek through one of the most remote regions of Canada
While many people dream of abandoning civilization and heading into the wilderness, few manage to actually do it. One exception was twenty-four-year-old Elliott Merrick, who in 1929 left his advertising job in New Jersey and moved to Labrador, one of Canada’s most remote regions.
True North tells the captivating story of one of the high points of Merrick’s years there: a hunting trip he and his wife, Kay, made with trapper John Michelin in 1930. Covering 300 miles over a harsh winter, they experienced an unexplored realm of nature at its most intense and faced numerous challenges. Merrick accidentally shot himself in the thigh and almost cut off his toe. Freezing cold and hunger were constant. Nonetheless, the group found beauty and even magic in the stark landscape. The couple and the trappers bonded with each other and their environment through such surprisingly daunting tasks as fabricating sunglasses to avoid snow blindness and learning to wash underwear without it freezing.
Merrick’s intimate style, rich with narrative detail, brings readers into a dramatic story of survival and shares the lesson the Merricks learned: that the greatest satisfaction in life can come from the simplest things.
Refusing ``to labor in the frenzied city . . . at a task patently not worth the doing,'' the author moved during the late 1920s to Labrador. Most of this book comprises the journal of a winter hunting trip taken with experienced guides as well as with Merrick's wife, for whom the allure of the North is equally powerful. Endurance is a point of pride for them; despite constant cold and hunger, despite mishaps (Merrick accidentally shot himself in the thigh, then nearly chopped off his toe with an ax), the Merricks adore this land of frosts and wastes so stark that a discarded matchstick ``looms as big as a house.'' Replete with local history and amusing yarns, the journal also includes such arcana as the best ways to wash underwear in the frozen North and how to construct sunglasses to prevent snow blindness. This reissue of a 1935 work is a fascinating, at times magical, chronicle of husbands and wives who, due to long separations and the extreme hardships under which they toil, regard each other as heroes and heroines.