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To Climb a Mountain cover

Book Details:
  • 276 pages
  • Black & White
  • 6.0 x 9.0 inches
Available Formats:
  • eBook (epub, mobi, pdf)
  • Paperback
  • Hardcover
  • 978-0-9958599-2-0 eBook
  • 978-0-9958599-1-3 Paperback
  • 978-0-9958599-0-6 Hardcover

1930's Saskatchewan, Pacific Coast History, Canada/Holland WWII, Rocky Mountains Adventure, Ranger Biography

To Climb a Mountain
Growing Up in the Canadian West: Adventure Amid Turmoil and History by Jean Forbes-King

In the early 1900s, the dream of owning their own land draws thousands of immigrants to the Canadian West. One of them is Billy King, an adventurous youngster who emigrates from England with his family to a rough-and-tumble Saskatchewan town and then over the Rocky Mountains to a very different way of life in Victoria, BC, where he must learn the ways of the sea.

With the onset of war in Europe, his life in Canada is uprooted, but not enough to discourage him from realizing his dream of becoming a forest ranger in Alberta's Rocky Mountains. The life-and-death challenges of that unforgiving environment and the diverse people who live there—ranchers, miners, mountain men, and a remarkable native elder—redefine his world. But a devastating personal loss changes his life forever.


"To Climb a Mountain is the larger-than-life account of Bill Forbes-King--a prairie kid who came of age during depression and war and then found his dream job working in the mountains.  It’s an engaging read, drawing on the power of stories and rooted in a strong sense of place...a reminder of how writing can have resonance across the years and generations. It’s all lovingly told by his wife Jean who assumes Bill’s voice in a way that only a partner can." - Bill Waiser, historian and author, Governor General's literary award 2016

"A poignant reconstruction of the events of a memorable life." - Kirkus Reviews

"To Climb a Mountain turns Bill Forbes-King's life into a rollicking, rock-em-sock-em adventure that reads like a more thoughtful literary version of the Boys Own stories he used to read. War-time missions, blizzards, grizzly bears, quicksand---every person should be so lucky to have their life woven into an epic story by a writer as good as Jean Forbes-King." - Evan Munday, author and illustrator of the Dead Kids Detective Agency series.

"To Climb a Mountain is a memorable book. Distinctive and original, I recommend it." - A.G. Moore, Midwest Book Review/Amazon (five stars)


"If you are looking for a talented Canadian author to celebrate Canada's 150th, you have found your book! I loved this heart-felt story of the true test of one young person's courage, perseverance, hard work and wit as he grows and matures through true Canadiana adventures and trials---ultimately, he is in search of a place to call home. It will reach the hearts of young and old. Enjoy!"  - Barbara Willoughby, Perth

"The prairie plains, Vancouver, Rocky Mountains, assignments of WWII, and great loss: this true life story will keep you flipping pages. The author carries you along with an incredible person who faces the unthinkable that Life sometimes throws in our path. A great read." - Roy Loeffler, Perth

"I purchased two copies of this book, the additional one to share with my step-grandson who enjoys reading adventure stories as much as the young character in this book. It was delightful hearing his comments as we read through our books. I hope others will enjoy sharing this story a much as we did. Warm thanks to the author for providing a story with strong positive messages for overcoming adversity. Well done." - Jackie Willoughby, Regina

Like her husband, Bill, Jean Forbes-King grew up as a farm kid on the Canadian prairies. Her elementary schooling took place in a one-room schoolhouse, her high school lessons at home, aided by her mother, a teacher, from whom she discovered her love of writing and English literature. Together with her twin sister, Jean also excelled in music. While her sister went on to make music a career, Jean majored in economics at the University of Saskatchewan, eventually serving as Executive Assistant to the president of the U of S, where she applied her writing skills to crafting speeches and other documents.

Though Bill spoke little of his early years, anyone who heard his tales was fascinated by them. Eventually, Jean convinced him to record some of his stories on tape. As his health faded, he passed on more stories through conversation. Jean started this book as a family history, but as she shared Bill’s story with others, she was encouraged to take it further. To Climb a Mountain is the result of her efforts to do just that.


Jean Forbes-King

What People are Saying

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