4 out of 4 stars
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Sea Winter Salmon: Chronicles of the St. John River, by Mari Hill Harpur, is about the St. John River, which is situated in the eastern part of Canada, and the enormous activities around it since the late 1890s. James J. Hill, the author's great-grandfather, was a successful businessman, who enjoyed hunting and fishing. Sometime in his life, he desired to have his own waters, and in 1897, he and his lawyer, Meredith, entered into negotiations for the ownership of the northern part of the river. Eventually, he acquired the river and built a fishing camp, which he named Hill Camp, along the river.
Providing pictorial evidences of events, transactions, lease agreement, and several letters written by different people entertained in the camp, Mari describes the camp's early history, including its construction and the fishing exploits of guests and fishermen across the ocean. After providing an adequate table of contents, the author premised this narrative with the introduction of her great-grandfather and enumerated his accomplishments. Subsequently, she presents the images and anecdotes of the North Atlantic, its geography, and the politics connected to it. As the book unfolds, she proceeds to reveal the wonderful life in Hill Camp from one generation to another.
With black-and-white and colored photographs of elites and proletarians, the book unveils the excitements the camp and river offered to many men and women, even children. Some of the pictures have them displaying their catch of fish. In addition, the author describes how, after the demise of the past generations of the owners and managers, the newer generation continued to experience the camp's life. She narrates about how Hill camp was restructured, researches were carried out, and steps were taken to protect the habitat of the Salmon salar.
Telling about sportfishing, which includes catch and release, the narration contains the author's personal experiences and accounts of other people at the river. If you love eating fish, I advise you to read this book because it encloses some handwritten recipes for cooking some mouthwatering salmon delicacies. Besides, it includes some poems and even a song related to fishing and the river. These show that the fishing camp offered so much fun for its owners and guests. What l like most in the narrative is the quality of companionship and community spirit that interpenetrated the camp during the fishing season. If you don't enjoy reading historical documents, you may not like this read.
Lastly, after the narration, the author showcased her favorite collection of beautiful pictures of different parts of the river and camp. This nonfictional book is a well-written documentary on life at St. John River. It tells the history of the river and essence of Hill Camp. It's enlightening and engaging, and it was well edited since I found just one error, which is an omitted word. Thus, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars and recommend it for historians, archaeologists, and anyone interested in fishing.
Sea Winter Salmon: Chronicles of the St. John River
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