Wednesday, March 29, 2017

“I Married the Klondike” by Laura Beatrice Berton


Many young women in the early 1900s started their adult lives and careers as teachers in remote areas. They accepted short-term contracts for the opportunity to put their new credentials work, for the money, and for the adventure.

Many did not last beyond that first year, but Laura Beatrice Berton turned her initial one year commitment into a life well lived in Canada’s Yukon Territory.

Laura came from a well-to-do family in Toronto. As a young teacher in Toronto, she earned the paltry sum of $480 a year. When her superintendent offered her the position of kindergarten directress in far off Dawson City for $2100 a year, she quickly accepted.



Gold mining tailings on the Klondike River in 1994.
I Married the Klondike (Lost Moose: The Yukon Publisher, 2005) by Laura Beatrice Berton is a memoir encompassing twenty-five years including her teaching experiences, life in the bustling then dying gold mining town of Dawson City, and subsequent years of married life with Frank Berton, a miner and engineer who crossed the formidable Chilcoot Pass during the gold rush of 1898.



Dawson City's Yukon Hotel from our flying vacation in 1994.
The stories of life in Dawson City, the position of teachers, local high society, gold mining, a summer-long honeymoon in a tent at Sourdough Gulch, dance halls and women of ill-repute, steamboats and riverboats, raising children in the North, and the ubiquitous Yukon River that was everyone’s focal point of life.

If you like history, stories of brave women, and a look at life at the turn of the Twentieth Century, I Married the Klondike is an excellent choice.


A touristy paddlewheel boat on the Yukon River.
This is the second book about the Berton family that I’ve read. The first was Drifting Home by Laura’s son Pierre Berton, author, journalist, historian and host of The Pierre Berton Show.  In 1971 he followed in his father’s footsteps over the Chilkoot Pass and floated down the Yukon River to Dawson City with his grown children, a family bonding and remembrance experience rolled into one. You can read that review by clicking here.

Do you have any books you’d like to recommend? I love to read, and our float cabin home is the perfect place. -- Margy

19 comments :

  1. An excellent book review and sounds like one I'd definitely enjoy.
    It sounds similar in some ways to a few by Bonnie Leon that I've read and you might like also.
    Kristen Heitzman writes a wonderful story called the Rose Legacy about mining life in the late 1800's in the Rockies.

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    1. I looked both authors up at Amazon and they both have quite a few books to choose from. Thanks for the recommendations. - Margy

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  2. sounds like an interesting story

    ROG, ABCW

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    1. I've read several books by women who went to remote areas to become teachers in the early 1900s. Maybe I enjoy them so much because of my teaching background. - Margy

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  3. What an interesting story... Sometimes I would like to take a step back and walk in that time

    Have a nice ABC-day / -week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)
    http://melodymusic.nl/20-k

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    1. Me too, but living where we do is a bit like that. Floating cabins are a piece of history here on the BC coast. - Margy

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  4. I'm going to look for this title in our library. Thanks, Margy. I just read a fun novel called "Cakewalk" by Rita Mae Brown. It's set right after WWI, at the start of Prohibition, in Runnymeade, through which the Mason-Dixon line runs. The main characters are delightful and oh so wise. I didn't want the story to end.

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    1. Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out. - Margy

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  5. So this is Pierre Berton's mother's memoir?!! Wow. It sounds great! And I do love stories about strong women. Thank you for reviewing!

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    1. Thanks for hosting our book reviews on your blog. - Margy

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    2. You are welcome, Margy! It's great getting to know you!

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  6. This is a familiar story, isn't it?
    I never even connected the last name until you told us.
    My first in-laws were posted to the Yukon in the early 50s. They told stories of making the prisoners do chores around their house, playing cards all the time, too! This was the RCMP detachment in Mayo.

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    1. My parents were big into going to bridge parties when I was growing up. - Margy

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  7. I enjoyed seeing your photos with the review. Pairing a visit up north with reading this book would be a fun vacation.

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    1. When I plan to travel I always look up books to read before I go, and later when I read books about a region I've visited I have a stronger connection. - Margy

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  8. This sounds really interesting. Great review, Margy.

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    1. Thanks Linda. It was an interesting book about a very different time. - Margy

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  9. Excellent review and a topic I find most interesting. We spent an entire summer camping in Alaska and the Yukon including a week in Dawson. Wonderful memories...:)

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    1. We were so lucky to go when we did. Now we can't fly our airplane in Canada and driving to the Yukon takes a very long time. - Margy

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Thanks for stopping by. Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. - Margy