In an age when regions of the Canadian North had hardly been discovered, Prentice G. Downes, a Harvard graduate and a teacher at the Belmont School outside of Boston, chose to travel alone by canoe to explore the Great Barren Lands. Sleeping Island: A Journey to the Edge of the Barrens, originally published in 1943, is an account of Downes’ canoe trip in northern Manitoba and the southern Northwest Territories in 1939.
In Sleeping Island, Downes describes a landscape and a people untouched by the modern world. His account captures the excitement of wilderness canoe travel, the enchantment of discovering new lands, and the deep connections Downes made with the people he met along the way. Downes was a very astute observer of native lifestyles and culture, as a result he was held in very high regard by the Cree of northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
The 2011 edition of Sleeping Island has a detailed biographical introduction of Downes and extensive footnotes. The edition also features illustrations and maps from authentic sketches and mesmerizing photos of his adventures.
Sleeping Island is a favorite book of Jason Pigeau, the Director of Facilities on Devil’s Island and an avid canoeist /outdoors man. The book is highly recommended by outdoors enthusiasts, scholars, and history buffs alike.