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True North: A Journey into Unexplored Wilderness

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  90 ratings  ·  24 reviews
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. First published by Scribner’s in 1933, True North tells the captivating story of one of the hi ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by North Atlantic Books (first published February 1st 1989)
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May 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2010
I love nature writing, but I don’t even remember if I finished Walden, the Holy Grail of Nature Writing. Don’t tell ole Henry David, will you? I tried to mollify him by buying a big-ass hardcover of his journals, but I’ve only taken morning dips in that, too.

But this isn’t True Transcendental Confessions time, this is a review of another nature book, one originally written in 1930 called True North: A Journey Into Unexplored Wilderness. I bring up nature as a genre only because it’s germane to
I haven't finished it but I notice that if one doesn't type something into the review box then one doesn't usually win another first-read. Unless one is Chris Wilson, who defies all rules and logic to win freakin' first-read after first-read (we hates him for that). I've been sitting on this one for a long time, reading it slowly. Some thoughts to place here, so that I can maybe have a chance at winning more books again:

- this dude lived out a childhood dream I've had since reading Gentle Ben, l
Nov 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I did like this book. The author has a colourful way of describing things which can be overly tedious at times. Gives me a whole new respect for the men and women who made a life for themselves in these harsh conditions. All in all a good book!
Apr 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elliot Merrick lived the life of Jeremiah Johnson fifty years after Mr. Johnson. An interesting book from start to finish, quite intriguing to see a "greenhorn" and his wife run with seasoned Labradorean fur trappers. Written in the typical style of most memoirs of it's time, ala Beryl Markham, Merrick's book describes beautiful scenes in a way the average person could not today. The imagery was on point and was aided with many similes and metaphors. If you have ever dreamed of leaving civilizat ...more
Tiffany Risner
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Elliot Merrick is or has become a legend of sorts, at least according to Lawrence Millman, who I completely trust. If Millman writes it, I’m buying it – literally and figuratively. With that in mind, we the readers get a chance to follow “THE man” alongside his wife and another experienced trapper as they move through 300 miles to their hunting grounds by canoe and foot (that’s 600 miles round-trip in five weeks). It doesn’t feel overtly adventurous because Elliot focuses on the aspect of how ha ...more
Lisa Kearns
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received this book through the Amazon Vine program and was excited to begin reading it. I search far and wide for old books about the Far North, written by the people who settled it. I'm grateful this book, which was originally published in 1935, has been re-released for a new generation to enjoy.

This is the story of Elliot Merrick and his wife Kay, who spend the winter of 1928 in the wilderness with the trappers of Labrador. They lived on little more than skillet biscuits, tea, beans, dried p
Don Robertson
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this book many years ago when my family was involved in wilderness canoe tripping; in fact I met the author at a canoe tripping symposium where he was a presenter. I loved it as much this time as that. The events described were as recent as my parents generation, and yet you can now drive to the area it took weeks of hardship to reach at that time, and a generation before that Leonidis Hubbard died of starvation exploring in the same area (Great Heart by Davidson and Rugge is a fictionali ...more
Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
A first-read win.

Originally published in 1933, True North tells of Elliott Merrick's journey with his wife into the northern wilderness of Newfoundland as they spend a season with trappers. Merrick's accounting of this journey read much like Thoreau in his forsaking of the city to live a "simpler" life in the Canadian North. Yet, while the author rhapsodizes wilderness living he does writes realistically about its challenges and dangers. The detail in this memoir is amazing . Merrick catches bot
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
I won this on LibraryThing Early Reviewers and I will post a review after I'm finished reading.
I learned a lot from this book. The struggle to travel 300 miles through the dead of winter from one end of Labrador to the other was a brave excursion and the reader is along for the ride. Written as a journal, this memoir of the trail-blazing author, Elliot Merrick is a page turner and a very good read. Set from September 1930 to July 1931, it captures what it was like to live and depend on entirely
Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing account of a journey during winter in Canada's Labrador area in 1929. Those of us who have grown up with our meat and vegetables packaged neatly in the grocery store have forgotten what a difficult struggle just procuring food used to be. I wish more people would read this book to help remind them of what we are at risk of losing if we do not begin to take care of the environment. Some habitats are already lost but there is still time to save others. My only wish is that the a ...more
Aletha Tavares
This book I got from The site and paitings that come thru just make my day on the net. The book is so beautifully written that it is really poetry in prose. The landscape described makes me shiver with cold and I can smell the crisp air and feel the biting cold as Merrick talks about his journey there. To give up city life is not so easy and go and settle in outbacks of Labrador. I wish I could get a chance in this life to visit it at least. A dream i shall nurture... ...more
Jed (John) Edwards
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Christopher recommended this to me. In about 1930 Merrick and his wife, in the full vigor of youth, repeatedly trudged upriver on snowshoes and finally got to the 'tilt' after dark to gather wood for the tin stove; interacted with the natives; had stamina competitions with Labradorean friends; and eschewed (at least temporarily) city life for a more elemental existence in nature (echoes of _Walden_). Merrick kept a journal, and _True North_ is the fascinating result.
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most people have forgotten to stop and take time to observe and soak in the true beauty of nature. We have also become so "soft" that true mental and physical strength and toughness are no more than idle thoughts that occasionally cross our paths. This author and his wife, chose a path that puts them face to face with nature, but only if they paid the price of physical and mental endurance required. Very enjoyable read.
Mar 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Eloquent, well written. The beginning gives the reader a choice: Working the grind to secure secular comforts, or Escapism into a harsh landscape that demands sacrifice but offers true happiness. It delves into multiple worlds: Corporate society and its discontents; Educational: I didn't know a trapper's top priority was walking; Indian life and rituals; Newcomer's process of adaptation to the Wild. I would recomment this book for its Educational as well as its Entertainment Value.
Robert Davidson
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Vivid, portrayal of life in Labrador hunting and trapping. The Author's wife was one tough Lady to accompany the Trappers and share in the ordeal. Having hunted in Northern Alberta for many years i can appreciate the beauty of the North, however why would anyone want to live the life of a Trapper.
Nov 06, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While not as strong as "Northern Nurse," "True North" still capture the untamed spirit of the Adventures of these outsiders to the Newfoundland outskirts and the life of a Trapper. Breathtakingly beautiful stories from the far ends of the world!
Linda Bentzen
Mar 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting story of abandoning civilization and heading into the wilderness in the winter in 1931. How this couple survived is amazing.
Anne Bradley
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite books. Read it to my father in his last months of life and he gave it a positive review as well.
Anthony Meaney
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a relatively unknown book but has a cultlike following among people who like to venture out into the coldest weather for long treks.

The author accompanied his wife to Labrador and lived for a time with the Newfoundland trappers and their families who eked out a living trapping and fishing in Labrador's wilderness.

Labrador is similar in some respects to Alaska - it's cold, thinly populated and harsh.

It's interior was one of the last unmapped spaces on the planet and was the subject of
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I would like to pass along a passage from the last few pages of the book that really hit home for those of us living in remote areas....."Every day is our day, to make of what we will. There is no one to intrude and bring on an act of self-consciousness. If we wish to be alone and unharried by a million other people's noises and projects and lives, to work out our own, we can be.....".
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
I got this book as a Goodreads Giveaway.
I have tried a couple times to read this book. Although I am interested in the subject, I find the book itself very hard to get interested in and stay focused on. The typeset is very small and tight, and it's just not comfortable for me to read more than a page at a time.
This one is going to have to go back on my shelf to try again later.
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written by, harsh life. I don’t want it but I do.
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