Reading the River
by Myrna Kostash
A literary portrait of the North Saskatchewan River, from its rise in the Rockies to its mouth in Lake Winnipeg
This is the story of the North Saskatchewan River in multiple voices, from its rise in the Rocky Mountains to its exit into Lake Winnipeg.
Framed within her own view of this great river, well-known prairie writer Myrna Kostash has combed the available literature to compile this compendium of writings - poetry, fiction and non-fiction - from those who spent time reading the river. Beginning with Saskatchewan River Crossing, at the river's source, she takes the reader through 21 communities along the North Saskatchewan, from Edmonton to Prince Albert, from Shandro Crossing (Alberta) to The Pas (Manitoba).
Included are the words of people from writers like Hugh McLennan, Eli Mandel, Aritha van Herk, John V. Hicks, and Tomson Highway, to the explorer Alexander Mackenzie, 19th-century mountaineer James Monroe Thorington, to a Cree legend.
Reading the River opens with an introduction by Myrna Kostash, and a charting of the geological origins of the North Saskatchewan River, and closes with "The Future River," a commentary in several voices on, among other things, the river's likely return to a place of prominence in prairie lives, not as a transportation route, but this time as a source of crucial fresh water. What emerges is a portrait of this vital lifeline, its terrain, and the culture that grew, and is growing, on its shores, to be appreciated by anyone who travels on, along, or merely to, the great river.