Measuring Mother Earth

Measuring Mother Earth

How Joe the Kid Became Tyrrell of the North

Book - 2007
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Random House, Inc.
A vivid, entertaining portrait of the great Canadian explorer Joseph Burr Tyrrell, the man who single-handedly invented the notion of the “Romance of the North”.

In the nineteenth century, exploring the Earth was as exciting and awe-inspiring an activity as space exploration was in the twentieth century. And even as late as the 1880s, vast expanses of Canada remained largely untrodden by Europeans. So joining the Geological Survey in 1882 was the realization of a dream for the short-sighted, profoundly deaf, and egotistical young Joseph Burr Tyrrell.

A romantic, inspired as much by Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure novels and by Wild Bill Hickock’s exploits as by the spirited debates about evolution that informed his work, Tyrrell chafed under the strictures of the survey. By the time of the Klondike gold rush in 1898, he was a bitter man, resentful that the survey under George Dawson had repeatedly refused to promote him or give him any plum jobs. He quit and took up prospecting instead, which brought him nothing but misery in the Yukon but handed him a fortune when gold was discovered in Kirkland Lake, Ontario.

His own best fan, Tyrrell did finally achieve the celebrity he ached for. Decked out in a sealskin parka and moccasins, while he burnished stories of his achievements, Tyrrell became the prototype of the romantic hero-explorer later personified by Robert Scott (of the Antarctic). He retired a multi-millionaire and died at the age of ninety-eight, just six weeks before the 1957 space launch of Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the Earth.

Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2007
Description: 348 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9780771075391
Branch Call Number: 551.092 Tyr


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