In the early days, Plains Indians travelled on foot across the vast Canadian prairies, with only fierce, wolf-like dogs as companions. Later, with the arrival of Europeans, horses and canoes appeared on the scene. In Rediscovering the Prairies, Norman Henderson, a leading scholar of the world’s great temperate grasslands, revives the earlier modes of prairie travel. He journeys along 325 kilometres of Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley by dog and travois (the wooden rack pulled by dogs and horses used by First Nations to transport belongings), then by canoe, and finally by horse and travois.
Henderson’s often humourous descriptions of his attempts to find and train a dog and a horse highlight the difficulties involved in recreating traditional travel methods. Henderson interweaves his own adventures with the exploits of earlier travellers, such as La Vérendrye, Alexander Henry and Peter Fidler, and the experiences of fur traders and others who struggled across this strange and forbidding landscape. His captivating account will foster a better appreciation for, and a deeper understanding of, the natural and human history of the Canadian prairies.