From Publishers Weekly
A chance visit to the Arctic in 1948?when Canadian author-artist Houston (The White Dawn) was invited to fly with an aviator friend on a medical emergency at an isolated post?dictated his future for the next 14 years. Stirred by the endless white landscape and the engaging warmth of the Inuits, he connived to return as a Northern Service officer and eventually became the first administrator of western Baffin Island. An artist himself, he recognized the artistry of the people in their carvings and drawings, and became a major force in bringing them to worldwide popularity. He introduced the Inuits to printing and money, oddities they had not known. In turn, they introduced him to their cooperative society, taught him their hunting skills and shared their food, stories and ways of living. His memories of those years, written with a modesty that belies his own accomplishments, peoples the Canadian Arctic with unique individuals and describes a mode of life that, for better or worse, he himself did much to change. Illustrations by the author.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From 1948 to 1962, Canadian artist-writer James Houston lived among Inuit residents of Arctic Quebec. (He uses the term Inuit rather than Eskimo, which has recently fallen out of favor.) He was one of the first white men to appreciate the value of Inuit carvings and initiated a program to gather, sell, and display in galleries the ivory, antler, whalebone, and stone artifacts. All along, he promoted the carvings and native printmaking as industries for improving the Inuit economy. His "confessions" are really recollections about his activities on both sides of Hudson Bay and Baffin Island. Often accompanied by his wife, he took dogsled treks, built and slept in igloos, hunted walrus, and climbed a frozen waterfall. Sprinkled in the text are 40 of his drawings, which illustrate such commonly used items as a seal-oil lamp, copper-mine ulu, and goose-wing brush. Reading Houston's memoirs, you become inspired by his joy at living in and learning about the Canadian Arctic. Jennifer Henderson
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