Title: The Thlewiaza-Seal Rivers: Challenge of the Ice
Author: Fred Nelson
Publisher: Balboa Press
Genre: General Canada Travel Books / Nature & Ecology
Reviewed by: Tony Espinoza
While there is a good argument for being cautious in life, there is also a need within us all to seek out an adventure of some sort. No matter how careful and studious one is when looking at how best to live their lives, the honest truth is that life is a gamble, and no one knows when the danger will come to our own doorstep. So, to seek out the adventure is to live life to the fullest. As Helen Keller once said, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
In author Fred Nelson’s The Thlewiaza-Seal Rivers: Challenge of the Ice, the author showcases one such instance of adventure in the 1970s. The author shares one adventure out of 19 different canoe trips that they undertook in the wilderness of Canada. Traveling a total of 4,500 miles and spending weeks at a time on each adventure, the author showcases one instance in which he traveled with five other canoeists, who traveled 450 miles from Thlewiaza River to Hudson Bay and then to Eskimo Point. However, things took a drastic turn when they arrived at Nueltin Lake, and discovered a 75-mile overland trip awaited them due to the coldest winter in 40 years. Filled with treacherous waters, frightful bear encounters, and stormy nights in Hudson Bay, the author showcases the determination and exhilaration that the journey brought.
The author did an incredible job of bringing both the realities of venturing off into the wilderness and experiencing the raw power of nature itself, and the detailed look into the heart of canoeing as a whole. The balance of images and straightforward storytelling made the story fly by, and the emotional and physical journey the author and this crew went on kept the reader invested and captivated throughout this entire book. Both the literal images and the imagery of the author’s writing helped to bring the wildness of the wilderness to life so beautifully, showcasing both the raw power of the dangers they faced and the empowering moments when they overcame those hurdles.
This is the perfect read for those who enjoy non-fiction reads, especially those who enjoy stories set in the wilderness, who are interested in travel, who seek to know the Canadian Wilderness, and those who have a fascination with canoeing. As someone who enjoys travel stories, I found myself enthralled with the author’s narrative and was invested in their journey, and I loved the era that the author’s journey took place in as well, making this feel like a near-modern historical read as well.
Memorable, engaging, and visceral in its imagery and atmosphere, author Fred Nelson’s The Thlewiaza-Seal Rivers: Challenge of the Ice is a must-read non-fiction travel and nature book. The stark contrast of the author’s journey with the natural beauty and isolation of the wilderness they traversed through made this such a compelling story, and will have readers eager for more of the author’s unique tales.