Heart So Hungry: A Woman's Extraordinary Journey into the Labrador Wilderness
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A gripping cold weather, true-life adventure, Heart So Hungry tells the story of a race across Labrador and one woman’s determination — inspired by grief and fed by outrage — to set the record straight.
A remarkable adventure, a love story and a thrilling race are all front and centre in this account of how one woman’s devotion to her late husband’s memory transformed Mina Hubbard from a rural Ontario nurse into the most celebrated female explorer of her time.
In 1903, following an ambitious expedition to map the interior of Labrador, Mina’s husband, Leonidas, dies of starvation in a cold, boggy, wind-scoured landscape. Allegations surface that the expedition failed because of Hubbard’s incompetence, so Dillon Wallace, Leonidas’ partner on the failed expedition, decides to honour a promise that he made to Hubbard to complete the route that they had been supposed to take. When Mina Hubbard discovers what Wallace has planned, she doubts his motives and decides to mount her own Labrador expedition and to beat Wallace to the finish line. Driven by her devotion, Mina wins the race, beating Wallace by a month and a half, and becomes in the process the first white woman to make contact with the elusive Naskapis Indians.
Using original, unpublished source material, as well as books written by the main actors in the drama, novelist Randall Silvis pieces together a narrative of the race between Wallace and Mina Hubbard, as well as the fateful first expedition of Wallace and Leonidas Hubbard.
From the Hardcover edition.
She let her hand slip down his arm and brush across his fingers. Then, side by side and without speaking, they walked back toward camp. Joe and Gilbert had just finished setting up her tent when she arrived. They too had been searching for her earlier and now they did not know whether to smile. It was as if they had all agreed to scold her with their expressions but no one was terribly interested in doing so now. She did not say anything at first but went inside her tent and changed into dry clothing.
Did they think that by questioning Laddie’s choices they made themselves appear wise? Caspar Whitney got into the game through his columns in Outing. He first wrote a piece called “An Appreciation,” in which he praised Laddie as unselfish, brave and cheerful, “a manly man and a good friend. ” But he could not leave well enough alone, and in a later piece he absolved himself of all responsibility for Laddie’s death. “His equipment, party and arrangements,” Whitney wrote, “were not only entirely of his own choosing, but even unknown to us.
The wind drove waves against the boulders with such force that the spray flew thirty feet into the air. By the second day of their forced encampment, the ground was covered by a half-foot of snow and the rocks along the shore were encased in ice. On the morning of September 29 Wallace thought he detected a subsidence in the force of the wind. “If we don’t move now,” he told Easton, “before the river freezes up, we might have to leave the canoe behind for good. ” It proved to be a near-fatal decision.
It took him a while to find enough breath for words. “You’re welcome, missus. ” Not long after that they came to another set of rapids, these too rough for any of the party to brave. During the portage, which took them along a well-worn bear trail over white moss, George told her, “I’ve seen men couldn’t handle rapids the way you did back there. ” “Really, George? Did I do all right? ” “Lots of men would’ve jumped out of their canoes rather than go through those places. ” “They weren’t very big rapids, though.
Wallace got too much smoke in his eyes and went blind from it. We figured he’d be fine come morning but he wasn’t. He could see but everything was in a haze, he said. But it was fixing to snow again, and I had to be off for Grand Lake, and that’s where we parted company. ” “I understand,” she said. “But he never made it back to Mr. Hubbard with the flour. And all he had to do was retrace the path that got you to the flour in the first place. ” George nodded. Yes, she was right. It might have made all the difference.