It’s a thrill to announce that Born to Walk is a finalist in the non-fiction category at this year’s Ottawa Book Awards. The other titles on the shortlist are Children of the Broken Treaty, by NDP Member of Parliament Charlie Angus, a pair of historical works by Carleton professors Tim Cook and Norman Hillmer, and Roy MacGregor’s celebration of Canada’s love affair with the canoe. The awards will be given out at a ceremony at city hall on Oct. 19, and it’s an honour to be nominated.
In other book news, the Walrus magazine feature that was a crucial first step toward Born to Walk — my account of a two and a half week winter walk with Innu surgeon Stanley Vollant as part of his inspiring Innu Meshkenu project — will be included in a new anthology of walking stories that’s scheduled for release later this fall. The Walkabout Chronicles: Epic Journeys by Foot, a collection of essays, interviews and photography curated by Tor and Siffy Torkildson, features contributions from writers such as National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence Wade Davis, Alberta-based adventurer Jerry Kobalenko and John Francis, a.k.a. the Planetwalker, who spent 17 years walking around the United States without speaking to draw attention to his environmental message. I’m a big fan of these writers, and also of Robert Macfarlane, the British of author of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, who provided a blurb: “The history of walking and writing is almost as old as culture: every step is a story, and every path tells. This marvelous collection adds a new mile to the written way, a new stride to the literature of the leg.” A non-fiction hero of mine, Tim Cahill, who first opened my eyes to this type of writing, also supplied a blurb: “It all changes, everything, and walking illustrates that elemental condition of our lives. Nothing else so completely clears our minds or lays bare the soul of place. This monumental book, full of graceful prose by writers and explorers, walks us through the familiar, the unfamiliar and downright strange. Highly recommended.”