Hudson Bay Bound
Two Women, One Dog, Two Thousand Miles to the Arctic
The remarkable eighty-five-day journey of the first two women to canoe the 2,000-mile route from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay
Unrelenting winds, carnivorous polar bears, snake nests, sweltering heat, and constant hunger. Paddling from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay, following the 2,000-mile route made famous by Eric Sevareid in his 1935 classic Canoeing with the Cree, Natalie Warren and Ann Raiho faced unexpected trials, some harrowing, some simply odd. But for the two friends—the first women to make this expedition—there was one timeless challenge: the occasional pitfalls that test character and friendship. Warren’s spellbinding account retraces the women’s journey from inspiration to Arctic waters, giving readers an insider view from the practicalities of planning a three-month canoe expedition to the successful accomplishment of the adventure of a lifetime.
Along the route we meet the people who live and work on the waterways, including denizens of a resort who supply much-needed sustenance; a solitary resident in the wilderness who helps plug a leak; and the people of the Cree First Nation at Norway House, where the canoeists acquire a furry companion. Describing the tensions that erupt between the women (who at one point communicate with each other only by note) and the natural and human-made phenomena they encounter—from islands of trash to waterfalls and a wolf pack—Warren brings us into her experience, and we join these modern women (and their dog) as they recreate this historic trip, including the pleasures and perils, the sexism, the social and environmental implications, and the enduring wonder of the wilderness.
Praise For Hudson Bay Bound: Two Women, One Dog, Two Thousand Miles to the Arctic…
Univ Of Minnesota Press, 9781517907846, 224pp.
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
About the Author
Natalie Warren is a Minneapolis-based author, scholar, and public speaker on environmental issues. A lifelong paddler and river lover, she canoed the length of the Mississippi River and won first place in the Yukon River Quest in the women’s voyageur division, paddling 450 miles in fifty-three hours. A contributing writer to outdoor publications, she has worked with Bancroft Arnesen Explore, St. Croix River Association, and River Management Society, and she started a nonprofit to present urban rivers as natural, dynamic classrooms for youth.
Ann Bancroft is one of the world’s preeminent polar explorers and an internationally recognized educator, speaker, and philanthropist. With Liv Arnesen, she is author of No Horizon Is So Far: Two Women and Their Historic Journey across Antarctica (Minnesota, 2019).
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. Both Natalie and Ann had studied environmental and social issues in college. How did this trip expand their understanding of the world? What do you think they learned that they could not have fully understood by reading or talking about in a classroom setting? How might the world be different if we actually witnessed environmental and social justice issues and put more value on the lived experiences of people most impacted?
2. What did you think of the email they received from the outdoor rep before their trip? Throughout the book, the paddlers find themselves in interactions where they wonder, “Is this happening because we are women?” Have you ever experienced a situation where you were left wondering, “did that happen because of my gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or disability?” How do you work through those emotions? How can we amplify those feelings to a broader political sphere for real equitable change?
3. Ann and Natalie paddled connected waterways for nearly three months, encountering farms, dams, algal blooms, poor water quality, and pristine wilderness. What environmental lessons did they learn along the route? How do you feel about their encounters with environmental degradation?
4. Unspoken tensions build up to Ann and Natalie’s epic fight on Lake Winnipeg. What did you think of their evolving friendship throughout the book? What role do fights play in “pushing the ‘reset’ button?” How do you handle conflict in your relationships?
5. Natalie reflects on the emotional challenges of being windbound on Lake Winnipeg. While paddling all day was hard, not being able to paddle was insurmountably more challenging. Sometimes being forced to slow down can be harder than pushing ourselves to do more and to be busier. Have you had an experience where you lost power or control to do what you wanted to do? How did you handle that situation?
6. In the afterword, Ann and Natalie reflect on the expedition, their relationship, and the impact the adventure had on their lives. What do you think about their reflection, nearly a decade after paddling to Hudson Bay? Have you ever experienced something so life-changing that you can look back and see how it changed the trajectory of your life?