Random House, Inc. We think of the cottage or cabin as a place where we can be our truest, most authentic selves. For those lucky enough to own one, just knowing it awaits can sustain the soul through the workday grind.
In Escape, Roy MacGregor explores the powerful hold the wilderness, and the thought of our place in it, has on our imaginations. He weaves together chapters of personal history, telling of his family’s deep connection to the lakes and forests of central Ontario, and chapters that detail the evolution of the idea of wilderness in Canada and the history of “Cottage Country.” He shows that the Canadian wilderness meant freedom for many early settlers escaping privation and oppression in Europe. It meant a chance to create a paradise on earth to some early Utopians, and it meant a chance to profit from the desperate or gullible, such as at Cannington Manor in Saskatchewan and Brother Twelve’s City of Refuge on Vancouver Island.
In more recent times, the wilderness and the cottage have represented an escape from a technologically driven and hectic civilization – although too often we take the trappings of our urban lives with us to the detriment of our intended refuge. In cottage country, MacGregor suggests, we may be loving our wilderness to death.
This is a thoughtful, evocative, and often moving book about an essential part of the Canadian psyche by one of our best-loved writers.