Saturday, April 29, 2017

“At Home in the Woods” by Vena and Bradford Angier

I like thrift shops and used bookstores to find books about living off the grid and wilderness adventures. One I found recently was At Home in the Woods: How two young people forsook civilization to live the life of Thoreau in the Canadian wilderness (The Macmillan Company, 1951).

The book was written by Bradford and Vena Angier with Vena Angier as the narrator. The story was told from her point of view.  I really enjoyed reading about their experience of moving off the grid to the Canadian wilderness.

The Peace River near Hudson's Hope in 1994.
Vena and Brad had city-folk jobs in Boston. They enjoyed the outdoors and greatly admired Thoreau’s simple life at Walden Pond. They searched for property and selected Hudson’s Hope in British Columbia's interior to live out their dream. They found an abandoned cabin six miles from town and used it while they built one of their own with recycled materials.

While living a simple life away from civilization they learned the skills needed to survive in the wilderness. They had minimal income from writing magazine articles, so they got as much of the food and materials they needed from the land.

Wayne in front of the Hudson Bay Post in 1994.
They made friends in Hudson’s Hope and explored the area by boat on the Peace River, by horse to a mountain lake, and by hiking everywhere, including up the ice and snow encrusted Rocky Mountain Canyon.

The Hudson Bay Company Post in town was not only the trading post, but also a center for community life. People from around the area, including Vena and Brad, would go there for celebrations and events.

After three years, they left the bush and returned to the States. After a time back in civilization, they chose to return to Hudson’s Hope. And in the end, Brad was able to purchase the land on which their cabin stood. Now no one could take their dream away.

Arrow 997 with our tent at Hudson's Hope Airport in 1989
Wayne and I stopped in Hudson’s Hope on one of our trips in Arrow 997. I remember walking down to the small village from the airport 6.6 kilometres (4 miles) away. Remembering the trek back up the steep road made me appreciate how difficult it was for Vera to walk the six miles from their cabin to get mail and groceries.

At Home in the Woods was re-released in 2015 (Down East Books) and is available from Amazon and other online booksellers in print and e-book versions. If you want to read a timeless off the grid adventure book, this is the one. -- Margy

8 comments:

  1. Bradford Angier's books were some of my favorites to read to be transported mentally to a very different life and time. Nice that you have visited a locale that they frequented, too!

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    1. I guess they made a living by writing both magazine articles and books. That's a good gig if you can get a publisher interested. I like reading books about places I have or will visit for sure. - Margy

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  2. Sounds very interesting. I admire their grit and determination.

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    1. Hikes to town in winter must have been really challenging. - Margy

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  3. In my next life I'm going to do something similar....;)

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    1. We didn't wait, and I'm so glad we didn't. - Margy

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  4. As much as I love the wilderness, I wouldn't want to hike six miles for mail and groceries. I love the cover art.

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    1. Me either. The cover is interesting isn't it. You might be able to use Photoshop to alter a photograph and make it portray only a few key colours. I'll have to try that. - Margy

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