Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Into The Nahanni

I'm still in the midst of writing Heaven & Hell, and I'm already thinking of future books. The third book I have in mind will start close to home, with a sequence set in the Gatineau Hills (if you're ever in the area, visit it!). And later in the book, a game of cat and mouse will ensue, between hunter and hunted, in the wild landscapes of the Nahanni, deep in the Northwest Territories.

The North and South Nahanni Rivers make their way towards the Mackenzie River via the Liard, passing through what's now Nahanni National Park and its surroundings. It's a place of myth, legend, unforgiving landscapes, incredible scale, and exceptional beauty. I have not walked its ridges or paddled its rivers (yet), but it's a place I intend to get to, and a place that'll feature strongly down the line in writing.

My first real exposure to the Nahanni has been in the photography books of Pat and Rosemarie Keough, a husband and wife team of photographers who have used the Nahanni, the Ottawa Valley, Sable Island, and the Niagara Escarpment as their subject. Their skills with a camera astonish me to this day.

The Nahanni has a long and colourful history, home to native tribes since the last ice age ended, and it's a place that seems obvious for tall tales and dark foreboding warnings. Some of the tall tales tell of fierce mountain tribes, white warrior women, gold deposits, or hot springs that hint at a mystical shangri-la. Well, there are hot springs.

As for the dark foreboding warnings? What do you think when you hear of place names like Death Canyon, Death Lake, Headless Creek, or Deadman Valley? One tale has two brothers a century or so ago, their skeletons found side by side, their heads gone. Another story tells of a man who was found in the spring by a friend, kneeling by a campfire, frozen solid. So of course the place is fertile ground for a book's setting.

Where to place those scenes, that's the question. One, I suspect, that can only be answered by visiting the place first.

In the meantime, have a look and see what the Nahanni is all about...


  1. Yes, you should most definitely be put in charge of tourism in Canada. Excellent blog, and the photos are incredible!

  2. I've done my bit for the Northwest Territories tourism board, I think...

  3. it is so beautiful, this is why I want to move to Canada next.
    Names like death canyon almost tempt me to do something death defying there, i guess that is why people like me will die there a lot, I would be like the equivalent of that dumb blond that dies first in horror movies.

  4. Sounds like some interesting projects, and WOW those pics are BEAUTIFUL!!!

  5. Wow!!! What beautiful photography...those places look amazing, and although I'm not much of a rock climber or a canoer, I would love to hike through some of those places. And, if they are the background for one of your novels, then you will have lots of imagery to explain to your reader. But, I know you can do it.

  6. WOW! Just gorgeous! SO much of Canada to explore... I hope to check out more of it someday.

  7. Despite my whining over a Toronto winter the great white north has it's appeal and we hope to do some travelling up north when the kids are a bit bigger and will be able to remember it better. Your pictures reinforce my desire for that trip!

  8. Beautiful, beautiful! *heart swells*

    And thanks for naming me a Versatile Blogger! :)

  9. Death lake one of the best hunting grounds i have been in


Comments and opinions always welcome. If you're a spammer, your messages aren't going to last long here, even if they do make it past the spam filters. Keep it up with the spam, and I'll send Dick Cheney after you.