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Dangerous River: Adventure on the Nahanni

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  163 ratings  ·  19 reviews
In the mid-1920s Raymond M. Patterson left a comfortable position with the Bank of England for a life in with wilds of Canada. Here, he hunted, trapped, fished and prospected his way along the rivers he would later write about. This spellbinding book, his most famous account, chronicles his two journeys down the treacherous Nahanni River between the Yukon and the Mackenzie ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published May 1st 1999 by Boston Mills Press (first published 1989)
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Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A six star book! It was written in 1953 and describes two trips that R.M.Patterson took up the wild and remote Nahanni River in Canada's Northwest Territories in the late 1920s. At that time, there were only three other white men who dared to enter the entire region due to a legend about the murder of the McLeod brothers who had previously traveled deep into the area, found gold and were butchered in "Deadmen's Valley" by Indians. It's not easy to write a book about canoeing and portaging and hi ...more
Robyn Roscoe
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my all-time favourite books about the outdoors. A rollicking story of adventures in the Canadian North, Patterson details his summer and then full year in the South Nahanni region of the North West Territories in 1927-29. His explorations of some uncharted regions with (what we would see today as) very rustic gear are mystic and hair-raising, and his story telling and vivid descriptions are London-like in the way they capture the essence of the North. Things like:

"As I was finishi
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Am amazing tale. Tells the story of exploring and trapping along the Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories in 1927-29. Great adventures. Fabulous writing. Really captures the magnificence and awe of the land.
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the book starts quite slow, by the end it contains quite the story of a territory just before it became populated.
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
R.M. Patterson’s “Dangerous River” is an enchanting tale of one man’s travels along the remote South Nahanni River (≈300 mile long) in the far reaches of Canada, above British Columbia on the west side of the Northwest Territories. The tale was written in the 1950s but was the story of his two adventures that took place in the 1920s, way before many roads were available to ease the journey and to an area where few white men had ever ventured. Just to reach the region from Edmonton in the 1920s t ...more
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Favorite Quotes:

"There is something beautifully final in certain phases of river travel: you make your decision and pick your course, and after that the rest is all action. You are committed, and there is no turning back--you must make it or swamp. The result is a supreme peak of physical effort and a split-second awareness of changing water: and mentally a sort of cold excitement and exhilaration--a high point of living."

"The sun slid down the sky and the shadows swung and deepened, but time, f
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-canada
R.M. Patterson is essential reading for anyone interested in northern B.C. and Alberta exploration in the early 20th century. Emerging from the cauldron of W.W.I. he paddled, walked and rode through the largely unknown north west region of Canada. Dangerous River is his first and possibly his best book. As he said in the foreword to the Canadian edition of D.R. it was"written quickly and in a fit of wild enthusiasm". We are in his debt for this glimpse of real wilderness before civilisation made ...more
Dangerous River is no longer in print. It was originally published in 1954. It is based on a number of years spent in the Canadian arctic in a search for "the lost gold" of the Nahanni river region. The author and the men he encountered used survival techniques common in the 19th century (The story takes place in the 1920's). Raging rivers, sub-zero temperatures, tales of marauding indians still haunting a region known as Deadmen's Valley all make Dangerous River a thoroughly enjoyable tale.
Jacqueline Worboys
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
An excellent, articulate, re-discovery of life along the Nahanni River, as it follows its treacherous course between the Yukon Territory and the Mackenzie River. One section is dominated by stories of Deadmen Valley. RM. Patterson ventured into the region in the mid 1920s with Gordon Matthews, where they spent the winter trapping. His narrative details their adventures. Well written, in full detail, and a pleasurable read.
Feb 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
One of the last adventurers -- I am an armchair adventurer, truly -- my kayaking and camping pleasures do not involve dangerous rapids and year-long isolation, but I sure like reading about it and Mr. Patterson provides it.

Seeing the Virginia Falls and Nahanni someday are two dreams. I wonder if they're as magnificent as they were in his day.
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I can't believe R.M. Patterson's account of his summer and winter spent in a remote corner of Canada's Northwest Territories was out of print for so long; thanks to his sense of humor and adventure, his love of nature, and his writing style--crystal clear like the South Nahanni River itself--Dangerous River ranks right up there alongside other non-fiction travel classics.
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Dangerous River" was full of man versus nature adventure in the untamed Nahanni River region of Canada and while I found the book entertaining, its journal-like writing style hard to follow at times. That said, Mr. Patterson and his cohorts proved to be equals to every challenge placed before them.
Anthony Meaney
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written account of one man's (well two actually but the author writes more of his own adventures than his partner) year on the Nahani river in the Yukon Territory in 1929.

The author paddled up (yes up) the Nahani. Built a cabin and trapped and fished there for the year.

This book is a great armchair read for canoeists, wilderness trekkers and winter campers.
Wow, really enjoyed this more than expected. A first-hand account of one of the first white men into the Nahanni River region ... exploring, hunting, spending the winter trapping, and of course looking for Gold.

Really great read from the late 1920's, definitely looking forward to reading more by RM Patterson.
Johnny Holiday
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books that I have read about the Canadian north. It's informative, funny and a great adventure. I cannot believe the hardships he had to overcome. This is the second or third time that I've read it and will do so again in a few years.
The author is quite a likeable guy. As the back cover says, this was in a sense, one of the last wilderness adventure of its kind, since plane travel was just starting up. I laughed out loud in spots and was drawn into the environment and the story.
Colin Climie
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author had some pretty amazing adventures during his time in the Nahanni region.

It was more fun to read once I had been there.
Aug 12, 2013 marked it as dnf
rather disjointed, colourful trip journal
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Dustin Moyer, Micah Dean, Andy Deegan
Excellent true adventure story. Details the journeys of some of the last explorers of an untouched wilderness. Well-written, fast-paced, and not over the top.
David Anderson
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