The Beaver Club Bible
This is THE book about the voyageurs, fur trade and exploration of northern Canada - very readable, full of anecdotes, characters brought to life and incredible tales of endurance. The middle volume of Newman's trilogy bursts to life from the start with a vibrant account of the antics of the famous Beaver Club at their monthly meetings in Montreal with simulations of canoeing the rapids on tea trays and lists of their alcohol consumption. It continues with a detailed account of the hey-day of the fur trade when the key players were, as the title suggests, lords of all they surveyed. Charles II signed over to the Hudson Bay Company all the lands draining into Hudson Bay, not knowing that this comprised of almost all the Canadian land mass east of the Rockies! This gave the HBC carte blanche to trade and prosper in the Boreal Forest and further north for over 300 years and this book is an invaluable record of what went on, once the initial structures and systems had been set up (described in Vol 1 - The Company of Adventurers). It is the history of Canada and explains why the beaver and canoe have become cultural icons for modern Canadians. And to top it all it is a rollicking good read.