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I've always tended to take on physical challenges. In my first summer job after my first year as an engineering student, I worked as a surveyor for Canadian National Railways in northern British Columbia. Whereas my fellow workers passed the weekends lying in their bunks drinking beer, I was out climbing the nearby mountains.
Years later, living in Brussels with my wife and kids, I climbed mountains in northern Norway while we were on a summer holiday there and then while we lived in Spain, I climbed the highest peak in the Pyrenees, Pico de Aneto. I competed in track and field this whole time, specializing in the 400 meters.
Back in Canada, I learned to canoe by taking my kids on excursions to Algonquin Park, a wilderness park not far from where we lived. My first taste of trackless wilderness occurred when I hiked the Long Range Traverse in Grosse Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador. Shortly after this I began retracing the Hubbard and Wallace Saga after reading Dillon Wallace’s The Lure of the Labrador Wild. My good friend Gerard Kenney, an author of books on the North, lent me the book and the two of us the following summer in 1999, canoed up Grand Lake and portions of the Naskaupi and Susan Rivers. Little by little I retraced about half of the 1903 trip forming the basis for The Lure of the Labrador Wild and most of the summer portion of the 1905 trip forming the basis for Dillon Wallace’s second book, The Long Labrador Trail. Not to be forgotten in all of this is Mina Hubbard’s book, A Woman’s Way Through Unknown Labrador and her 1905 trip. I retraced the greater portion of her trip as well.
A key event that convinced me to write the biography on Dillon Wallace was the Mina Hubbard Centennial in 2005, which took place in North West River, Newfoundland and Labrador, the starting point for the trips in 1903 and 1905. I was invited by the organizers to do a presentation at it, as part of those invited “from away” as the organizers put it in good Labrador parlance. I was at first surprised and then concerned that organizers were completely ignoring another key figure in the events of 1903 and 1905, Dillon Wallace.
After convincing the organizers to not forget Dillon Wallace, I was invited by them to locate surviving family members. Thanks to this I got to know Wallace’s son and daughter and then finally his granddaughter, Amy McKendry, who lives in the Seattle area. Amy and I decided that it was time there was a biography on her grandfather and met for a week in October 2008 to look through the extensive archives held on the saga at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. It has been a big job researching and writing the biography, with work on it taking place during spare moments as I continued to work as an energy specialist for the Canadian International Development Agency.
I live in Kanata, Ontario (now a part of greater Ottawa), where I'm married to Beth and have three grown children. Beth has shown great patience over the years with my heading off to Labrador and northern Quebec each summer.