Cover image for Houseboat chronicles : notes from a life in Shield country
Houseboat chronicles : notes from a life in Shield country
MacDonald, Jake, 1949-
Personal Author:
First Lyons Press edition.
Publication Information:
Guilford, Conn. : Lyons Press, 2004.

Physical Description:
291 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Reprint. Originally published: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2002.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR9199.3.M3113 Z474 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Explore the wilderness alongside the people who, whether boatside or camped under the stars, call it home.

Author Notes

JAKE MACDONALD is a novelist, short-story writer, and award-winning journalist. His articles have appeared in Maclean's, The Globe and Mail, and The National Post.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Canadian author MacDonald's love of wilderness was born during his childhood summers spent at the family lakeside cabin. He and his friends explored within a child's range and abilities, finding adventure and hints of the freedom that a wild life might bestow. As an adult, MacDonald returns to the area to live the life in nature he imagined, building an amateurish houseboat as protection from the dangers of bears and weather, and surviving the small-town and wilderness life by virtue of his wits. Whatever his abilities as a river guide, his true skill lies in his writing. His account of his childhood glows with the summer sun and bubbles with the goofy liveliness of young boys on the prowl. In his chronicle of the houseboat phase, the cold, the wet, and the joys are vividly conveyed by the ruefulness of his telling. Fortunately, he moved back to Winnipeg, where he makes his living as a freelance writer, reserving the wilderness for leisure and the source of stories. --Danise Hoover Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this spare, unassuming yet affecting memoir, MacDonald describes his lifelong fascination and flirtation with life in the central Canadian wilderness, an area known as "the Shield." MacDonald discovered the region as a boy at his family's summer cottage north of Winnipeg, and he later dropped out of graduate school just shy of a master's in English, packed a beat-up van and wound up at a remote fishing town that would serve as a periodic base for years to come. He infuses his lyrical descriptions with overviews of the Shield's social and natural history, and it's evident that the wide-eyed connection to the place he first felt when he was younger has hardly dissipated. While MacDonald's reverence is profound and genuine, it's not overstated. Instead, MacDonald keeps his imagery vibrant without overdoing it, describing 50-pound trout, for instance, as "ancient brutes with hooked jaws, battered heads, and the blank, stone gaze of a pagan idol." Likewise, he outlines the array of characters with whom he comes into contact without romanticizing them, from the locals with their names on the barstools to the ex-con who showed up one day and started helping him build his houseboat for lack of anything better to do. This is a tranquil, pleasant reflection on the austere beauty of nature, and on life's many different paths. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved