Agnes Christina Laut (1871-1936), novelist and historian, depicted explorers, fur trapping and trading, gold prospecting, and other aspects of Canada's exploration and pioneer days. Laut, who was born in Stanley, Ontario, but grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, based much of her work on the Hudson's Bay Company's records of the fur trade. Her books include "Lords of the North" (1900; 2001 reprint, Borealis), "Pathfinders of the West" (1904), "The Conquest of the Great Northwest" (1908), and more.
459 pages, Paperback ISBN: 9781896133232 $24.95 CA
About the Book
Excerpts from the introduction by Valerie Legge
Like so many other adventurous women at the turn of the century, Agnes C. Laut knew a passion for travel as well as a "gipsy yearning for the wilds." Fortunately she lived and worked at a time when the sphere of women´s lives was widening significantly. She was born the youngest of eight children in Ontario´s Huron County on February 11, 1871, just one year after Manitoba, amidst the troubles on the prairies, became the first province of the new Dominion of Canada. Her father was John Laut, a merchant from Glasgow and her mother was Eliza George, the daughter of Rev. James George, Chair of Logic and Mental and Moral Philosophy and vice-principal of Queen´s University from 1853 to 1857.
When Laut was two years old, she and her family moved to Winnipeg, which had just been incorporated as a city. In 1907 Laut recalled the importance of her early childhood years: "It was my good luck to have spent the first seven years of life on a farm enjoying all the fun of the real thing; riding real horses, not rocking horses; sailing real rafts on real creeks, not just blowing paper boats on a bath tub; hunting the secret nooks of live, real, woodland things ..."
Lords of the North is a vigorous, nomadic narrative dedicated "to the pioneers and their descendants whose heroism won the land." Laut acknowledges some of the pioneering historians whose works inform her fiction: Alexander Ross, author of The Fur Hunters of the Far West (1855); George Bryce, author of Manitoba: Its Infancy, Growth, and Present Condition (1882) and The Remarkable History of the Hudson´s Bay Company (1900); and Donald Gunn, co-author of History of Manitoba (1880).
Lords of the North is an energetic, quickly-paced narrative structured by moments of dramatic intensity and intrigue. In a thrilling description of a buffalo hunt, for example, Lunt vividly captures the excitement and danger: "Men unhorsed, ponies thrown from their feet, buffaloes wounded - or dead - scattered everywhere ... Carcasses were mowed down like felled trees; but still [the hunters] plunged on and on, pursuing the herd; while the ground shook in an earthquake under stampeding hoofs." Dramatic scenes such as this create and maintain a heightened sense of suspense and excitement throughout the narrative.
In this first novel Laut brings into collision three unusual wilderness women: Miriam Hamilton, a captive and unwilling traveller; an unnamed hostile Indian women, whose husband, Le Grand Diable, has been responsible for Miriam´s abduction; and Frances Sutherland, a white settler´s daughter who chooses to be an instrument of assistance and deliverance. All three are representative of independent, wilful and strong, women, who resist and at the same time affirm the conventional mythology of woman as "standard-bearer," a "moral compass" for men who trek through the vast wilderness. Laut reminds us that Canada was explored and settled by women, whose "gipsy yearning for the Wilds" led them, like their male counterparts, into lonely, remote regions of this "great lone land."
From the vantage point of the late twentieth century, Laut´s works seem very contemporary and prophetic in their themes and concerns, as Canadians continue to negotiate the contending forces associated with class, race, language and gender. Her works remind twentieth-century Canadians of their powerful connections that exist between past and present, between hinterland and and metropolis, between nature and culture."
Includes an introduction by Valerie Legge, endnotes, the complete text of 1900 edition by William Briggs, Toronto, and explanatory notes.