Reviews

Voyageurs

Patty Osborne

Voyageurs by Margaret Elphinstone took me back in time even further, to Upper Canada in the early 1800s, when Toronto was known as York, and Yonge Street stretched north past the last farm in Upper Canada into Mississauga Indian country. Into this rugged environment Elphinstone puts Mark, a young Quaker from England. His sister came to Canada as a missionary, married a North West Company trader and then disappeared, alone, into the wilderness. Mark is determined to discover what became of her, so he travels with the voyageurs throughout Upper Canada and into American Territory. In Elphinstone’s description of the time and trouble it takes Mark and his companions to travel, the reader perceives Canada as the vast land that it really is; and Mark’s decisions to abstain from drinking liquor and having sex outside of marriage, and to live as a pacifist (he is a Quaker), while everyone around him drinks, takes on “country wives” and talks of war (the War of 1812 is about to begin), give the story the depth it needs to sustain itself through 466 pages.

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