Saturday, June 26, 2010

Woman in the Bush

One of my favourite used bookstores in Bellingham is Eclipse Bookstore. It's located in Historic Fairhaven and my friend Betty and I go there every time we get together for coffee. They have a good Canadian section and I always find interesting books to read. I just finished rereading Woman in the Bush (Pelican, 1998) that I got there last year.

Woman in the Bush is the story of Jeanne Connolly Harbottle's first year in the Yukon with her newlywed trapper husband. The book was co-written with Fern Grice Credeur in 1966, but took place during the winter of 1947-48. Jeanne married Tom Connolly following World War II and left her city life in San Francisco for the wilds of the Yukon Territory. They were contemporaries of my parents, but their life was so different. I cannot imagine my mother being capable of living throughout the winter with temperatures around fifty below zero in a six by eight foot log cabin chinked with mud to keep out the wind and only a wood stove to heat and cook.

Jeanne learned how to snowshoe to break trail for the sled dogs, shoot, hunt, trap, skin and cure pelts, trade -- everything needed to survive and support her husband's work as a trapper. It was a hard life, but her adventurous spirit carried her through. People still seek a simple life in the bush, but times have changed. Hunting and trapping is more regulated, and trading as a means of commerce isn't as common. Jeanne's story is a look back in history to a different time, and way of living.

The trip out of the bush back to "civilization" was even more difficult, on many levels. The heat and mosquitoes made the journey on foot a huge challenge for both man and dog. Also, having contact with other people was a big lifestyle change. The book only hints about the future for Jeanne and Tom, but she did return and spent seventeen more years living in the bush, became a big-game guide and a trapper in her own right. She was quite a woman for her day, or any time for that matter. -- Margy


  1. Sounds fascinating! I'd like to track down a copy of that book. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. There are many books written here in the Cariboo about women who have made a living trapping and guiding in an extreme climate. This book looks good, too, Margy...I shall have to hunt it down. Thanks for this post about it!

  3. I love second-hand bookstores. There's one here in my city whose owner, a Old lady from Chile, I know for 30 years! I always find awesome treasures there, and she1s alaways sweet and gives me free books or comics for Lucas - and I always give her home-made goodies in return.

    This book sounds very good, I'll try to find it!

    Kisses and love from us.

  4. Sounds like a very interesting book and a woman to admire.

  5. Kerry Pickering Jr.5:18 PM

    Fern Grice Credeur was my great aunt. I'm trying to find a cheap copy of this book for my Aunt Lucille who lost her copy. Do you know any websites that might have one? All of the libraries around where I live have lost their copies.

  6. Hello Kerry - I don't see any cheap ones online. I just happened to find mine in a used bookstore. I keep books in several locations. I will look to see if I kept my copy. If you can send me an e-mail using the link in my profile I'll let you know what I find. - Margy

  7. Hello Again Kerry - I found my copy of the book up at the cabin. If you are still interested let me know. I would be glad to send it to you. - Margy