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A Metis Man's Dream cover

  • eBook Edition
    • 978-1-03-914550-4
    • epub, pdf files
  • Paperback Edition
    • 978-1-03-914548-1
    • 6.0 x 9.0 inches
    • Black & White interior
    • 318 pages
  • Hardcover Edition
    • 978-1-03-914549-8
    • 6.0 x 9.0 inches
    • Black & White interior
    • 318 pages
  • Keywords
    • Métis,
    • Northwest Canada,
    • Traplines,
    • Northern crane,
    • Tugboats,
    • Oral history,
    • Northern business

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A Metis Man's Dream
From Traplines to Tugboats in Canada's North
by Neil Gower

Where there’s a Gill, there’s a way. Gordon Gill is a gentle, hard-working Métis man whose journey began on his Iroquois-Cree grandfather’s trapline and evolved into a successful business career. His story is one of change and the passing of not just one, but several eras in the development of Canada’s North and the evolution of the Indigenous struggle. A Métis Man's Dream: From Traplines to Tugboats in Canada's North details the history he met, and made, along the way. Vision, chance, and generosity played integral roles in Gill’s evolution from cook’s helper on the tugboat MV Malta to founding two groundbreaking companies, Northern Arc Shipbuilders and Northern Crane Services. Gill emerged and flourished despite challenging personal injuries, poverty, reading difficulties, and residential schooling. He weathered the ups and downs of northern conditions, the crush of Canada’s National Energy Policy, and changes in culture, economics, and opportunity with a resiliency and way of looking at things that is both visionary and resolutely Métis. Gill is a man of many eras, having experienced many historic firsts and lasts, including experiencing the final days of the Indian Day School of Hay River, and directing the design and fabrication of the first short-throw tugboat in the NWT, the MT Gordon Gill. Neil Gower brings together all of this and more in his thoughtful, sensitive compilation of Gill’s remembrances of the changes he has seen in his lifetime.

"Gower presents a biography of successful Métis business owner Gordon Gill, whose hardscrabble life encapsulates the rural Canadian experience. Over the course of this book, Gower proves himself to be an excellent storyteller who provides geographic, historical, and cultural context regarding the Métis community while telling the engaging story of Gill’s life. At the heart of the book are Gill’s own words, which bespeak a rugged, down-to-earth worldview." ​─Kirkus Reviews "This is a compelling and powerful book focussed on key issues at the heart of Canadian identity. Gordon Gill's life is an inspiring example of perseverance, hard work and the importance of strong family and community ties. Gower's book is required reading for anyone interested in the complexity and rich history of Métis communities in Western Canada, residential schools, the Berger inquiry, northern development and the impact of oil and gas exploration in the Arctic." ─Hume Martin "(★★★★★) An Insightfully Detailed History of the Canadian North. Extremely well written and punctuated with some fabulous photographs throughout, this is an insightful and historical look at a hard-working entrepreneur who helped shape Canada's North. A terrific read!" ─Patrick J. McKenna​, Amazon Reviewer​ "...Well I’ve read the story and finished it yesterday. I absolutely loved it, and very much enjoyed the history and the description of the flowing of rivers that you included in it. I'm sure it’s because of knowing my uncle and family but at least two times the story was so moving it brought me to tears. I personally thank you for initiating and prodding us gently to keep at it. Very good work Neil and again thank you so much! You have gotten his story written that I was so scared was going to be lost. I do believe being Métis we were raised not to boast or talk about our accomplishments, I’m not sure why, maybe it has to do with a tribe mentality where everyone worked together and it was a combined contribution and not just one person that made the world go around back in those days. Either way, Gordon’s story is not forgotten and lost now." ─Marvelle Kobbert, daughter of Gordon Gill's sister Mildred "…wonderful poetic imagery of the North…I enjoyed your description of oral history and interviews with Gill and your reasons for writing his story. The book encapsulates so much of his voice directly (a great thing) with your excellent context…a lot of researchers will consult this book as it tells us so much about Métis life." ─James H. Morrison, C.M., Professor Emeritus (History), St. Mary's University "A Métis Man’s Dream is Neil Gower’s involving biography of Gordon Gill, a Métis shipbuilder, mechanic, and businessman. Gower is meticulous when it comes to sharing historical and economic details. The book covers the realities of residential schools, revealing their impact on Indigenous children and their communities in stark terms. It depicts the growth and later deterioration of the marine industry in Canada’s north—the driving force in Hay River. It discusses oil and mineral prospecting in the region, too, tying these into the industries’ impact on Indigenous communities. A Métis Man’s Dream is the inspiring biography of a man who navigated massive historical changes and who built a successful company by employing his culture’s values of humility and diligence." ─Foreword Clarion Reviews "I read your book a couple months back and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was really interesting to hear about many of the places that I’ve visited over the years during my career and to hear about a remarkable man who came from nothing but was able to accomplish so much in such harsh conditions. You did a great job laying out the timeline of his life in an informative and entertaining way. The unique writing style of interspersing Gordon’s commentary was a novel approach. I also thought the pictures and maps were of great value. Many writers don’t take full advantage of these features in a story. (Sometimes imagination isn’t enough!!). Last but not least, it’s a high quality book that is both lovely to look at and handle unlike many paperbacks. So well done!! 10/10!" ─Brian C. "I enjoyed your book very much. So well written, and because I remember Gordon well, it awoke many memories. My ancestry too is Métis...What a privilege to have grown up in the north". ​─Elaine P "Thoroughly enjoyed your tome. Fascinating story. Liked the reference to the big meeting with everyone stating their academic credentials and Gord bringing out his grade 11". ​─John F "Congratulations, Neil on a compelling story of a northerner and the development and decline of “the old way” of business in NWT. I especially liked how you weaved Gordon’s fascinating story into the inevitable transformations wrought by economic, technological, infrastructure and political change over 100 years or so. There were lots of reminders of places that I have been up north, and some reminders that places like Liard Highway route that I have never driven. A major undertaking, and you can be proud of this accomplishment". ​​─Kent S "Both Allan and I truly enjoyed the book. Thank You for writing such a Treasure. Much is seared in my mind." ​​​─Margaret G. P. "Many talk of such an achievement [writing a book] but few have the courage and the persistence to actually do it. A great summer read! Two or three chapters a day, in my early morning hours, just when I need inspiration to just breathe- your book, the Gordon story, is a gem." ─Paul N "I am reading the Gill biography like I used to read Reader's Digest. Sort of all over the place. Chapters nicely sort [into] single stories. I am enjoying your writing Neil. Immersive, tight. Well done. Your Gill biography is a great read." ─Jerry B "I had a chance to read your book, fittingly at Nonacho Lake this summer. Thoroughly enjoyed it..." ─Rob Kesselring, International tour guide, author of books and magazine articles, speaker, consultant "Neil I am just enjoying your A Métis Man’s Dream. Your work has provided a very clear and cogent picture of life and times in the Near North and a real introduction to the transportation and development of the Mackenzie River area of the Far North. I was born in 1941 so much of this was during my lifetime. Congratulations on a wonderful publication." ─Morris F​ "I enjoyed “A Métis Man’s Dream” immensely! Most memories of folks from HR came alive as I read of your story of Gordie & others. Congrats and thank you for your “work”! I couldn’t put it down!" ─Ken H​ "Just finished reading your book. Awesome. Terrific work in telling a great story." ─Judith Hartling "Neil, I feel like I know you, just from reading your book. It was great! I read it through in 2 days!" ─Tina R​ "It’s a modest book about a modest man. A biography of a hardworking and ultimately successful tradesman, Gower’s book is truly unique. Not many biographies written about tradesmen, let alone indigenous tradesmen who had to overcome unbelievable obstacles to even become one. None of us began as deep in the end zone as the subject of Neil’s book. And few of us accomplished as much. But, of course, the book is much more than a biography. It’s a book about the North and about Canada’s Métis, beginning long before Louis Riel and Sir John A. “duked it out” in the last half of the 19th Century. A Métis Man’s Dream whetted my appetite to learn more about both the North and the Métis." ─Brian O’Ferrall "Both A. and I truly enjoyed the book. Thank you for writing such a treasure. Much is seared in my mind." ─Margaret P., lawyer and writer

NEIL GOWER, KC, loves the North, the area around Great Slave Lake, and old tugboats. He holds a BA in history and an LL.B from the University of Alberta. Gower has worked extensively in the North, beginning with four summers working for Northern Transportation Co. Ltd., and then practising law (primarily as a legal aid defense lawyer) in Hay River (1975–1977) and for business clients throughout the NWT thereafter. A strong supporter of northern business and Indigenous learning, Gower is a fifth-generation western Canadian whose greatgreat-grandfather came to Pile o’Bones Creek (now Regina, SK), in 1882. Gower’s family has been involved in and focused on the history of the great northwest ever since. Gower’s love of northern history and admiration for Gordon Gill’s initiative and dedication fueled his desire to tell this unique story. Gill’s life of struggle and success, opportunities seized and lost, and continuous adaptation mirror the tremendous changes in Canada’s North over the last half of the Twentieth Century. Gower reveals the remarkable “life and times” of a pioneering Métis entrepreneur against the backdrop of significant historical transitions in Northern development, lifestyles, marine transportation, mining, and petroleum exploration. Now retired, Gower is a writer living in Edmonton, AB. He was the lawyer for and a long-time friend of Gordon Gill, Métis shipbuilder.


Neil Gower

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