Son of the North



Son of the North by Charles Camsell was published by the Ryerson Press in 1954

Son of the North by Charles Camsell was published by the Ryerson Press in 1954. This book is the autobiography of one of Canada’s foremost explorers and geologists. The Ryerson Press 125th Anniversary Catalog of 1954, described Son of the North as follows:

 Never before have the fascination and challenge of Canada’s Northland found so authentic an expression as in this book by one of its most distinguished sons. Born in a remote outpost of the fur trade in the North West Territories, Dr. Camsell spent his young manhood amongst traders, Indians and prospectors in the days before the railroad and the airplane. He taught in a mission school, was caught up in the Klondike gold rush, and as freighter, mail carrier, explorer and prospector traveled thousands of miles by canoe, scow, wagon and dog-train over perilous rivers and barrens of a North that offered constant challenge to courage and endurance.

 Later, as a member of the Canadian Geological Survey, Dr. Camsell was responsible for exploring and mapping the mineral resources in this unknown North. The story of his explorations and adventures brings before us in vivid detail the dangers and thrills of pioneer travel, and the richness and variety of human character that he encountered. It is written by a man who knows first hand every aspect of the North, and who eventually, as distinguished geologist and Deputy Minister of Mines, was able to exercise an important influence on its development. In this book, Dr. Camsell has given us a Canadian classic that combines the merits of authentic biography and history with the suspense and excitement of adventure fiction.

Charles Camsell

Charles Camsell source National Film Board

Charles Camsell was born in 1876 at Fort Liard, North West Territories, one of eleven children. He obtained a B.A. in Natural Sciences from University of Manitoba in 1894. Upon graduation, he returned to the North and in 1897 he and his brother set out to establish a gold claim in the Yukon. They were forced to abandon their claim after several months of harsh conditions and near starvation. But it was here that Charles Camsell developed his fascination with geology.

Upon furthering his education at both Queen’s and Harvard, Camsell returned to the North where he encountered members of the Canadian Geological Survey and he was hired as an assistant in 1902. Charles Camsell entered the public Service of Canada in 1904 where he remained until his retirement. During the forty years in that service, he rose to the rank of Deputy Minister of Mines and Resources.


Charles Camsell source

In 1929 Charles Camsell founded the Canadian Geographical Society (now the Royal Canadian Geographical Society) and was its President from 1930-1941. He was also President of the Royal Society of Canada from 1930-1931. Dr. Camsell  served in a variety of offices, was honoured by many learned societies with fellowships and medals and by universities with honourary doctorates. In 1935, Charles Camsell had the C.M.G. (The Commemorative Medal of St. Michael and St. George) bestowed upon him by Canada’s Governor General. After a brief retirement, Dr. Camsell was offered both an Ambassadorship and a High Commissionership. In 1945, Dr. Camsell was also awarded London’s Royal Geographical Society’s Founders Gold Medal for his contribution to geology. Charles Camsell died in Ottawa in 1958.



About The Ryerson Press Archive

My name is Clive Powell. I worked for McGraw-Hill Ryerson for 35 years. Recently I was asked to find a home for 3000 publications that represent the Ryerson Press Archive. I am happy to share my discoveries.
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