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If Moose Could Only Talk

If Moose Could Only Talk by Neil Gilliat

ISBN 0-9683627-1-0
220 pages / maps / photos / illustration

Neil Gilliat was born in Yorkshire, England. He left England while still a teenager in the aftermath of World War Two; about a year after leaving home, he found himself in Edmonton looking for a job. The best job he could find sounded like a short-term adventure: patrolling the wilderness with the Alberta Forestry Service. That summer job that Gilliat initially accepted purely to earn funds so that he could continue his travels would turn into his life's career and passion.

If Moose Could Only Talk is an anecdotal history of a "tenderfoot" from England who gradually matures into a real backwoodsman with the Alberta Forestry Service. It is an oral history of several formative years in the life of the Forestry Service itself. It is a history of the many horses and dogs who made it possible for people like Gilliat to live on the land by their skills and wits. It is a history of the harrowing days when forest fires were fought on foot and detected from horseback and from isolated fire outlook towers. It is a history of some of the many colourful, fiercely individualistic men and women who lived in and around the tiny towns of Entrance and Hinton, hunting, trapping, and fishing in Alberta's magnificent western wilderness near Jasper. It is an eyewitness account set in the late 1940s and early 1950s of the changing wilderness known as the Athabasca Forestry Reserve.

But most of all, If Moose Could Only Talk is a collection of stories and tall tales that have warmed many an evening spent around campfires in the wilderness. It is a book that is probably best appreciated when read beside a campfire in the wilderness, but that will also help the reader to appreciate the cozy comforts of a home that is not in the wilderness. If Moose Could Only Talk is a collection of stories that seem to come from another world, but that actually come from not that long ago, and, really, not that far away.

About the author: Neil Gilliat was born 1928 in the United Kingdom. He emigrated to Canada after serving in the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch). As a Ranger for the Alberta Forest Service, he served in many areas throughout Alberta. Neil was Superintendent of the Lesser Slave Lake Forest, and before leaving the Government, was appointed the Co-ordinator of Government Services in a socio-economic programme in the northern region aimed at assisting native people to cope with the changing times. In later years he was a consultant, an automotive franchise operator, and a founder of a waferboard plant, a malt plant, and a cereal processing plant.

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