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Keith Billington Tours the North
Posted: August 24, 2009
Billington will be doing a talk and slideshow presentation on his book, House Calls by Dogsled: Six Years in an Arctic Medical Outpost, at the following locations this September:
· Inuvik at the Café Gallery on Tuesday, September 1st at 7:00pm. Book sales by Boreal Books.
· Dawson City Library on Tuesday, September 8 at 7:00pm.
· Whitehorse Public Library on Thursday, September 10 at 7:30pm. Book sales by Mac’s Fireweed.
· Fort Nelson Library on Saturday, September 12 at 1:00pm.
· Fort St. John Library on Sunday, September 13 at 2:00pm.
· Dawson Creek Library on Tuesday, September 15 at 7:00pm.
In September 1964, Keith Billington, and his wife Muriel arrived in the Northwest Territories outpost of Fort McPherson, 1,700 miles north of Edmonton. They loved the North and stayed for six years. Keith, a nurse, and Muriel, a midwife, were barely into their twenties and fresh from England when they arrived, eager to put their brand new skills to work.
Their clients were the Gwich’in people, who taught them how to snowshoe, choose a dog team and live off the land. These two young professionals were all the medical help available at the births of babies and the tragic deaths of other children, they were the first to tend gunshot victims and deal with illnesses made worse by the isolation. Their story also tells of caribou hunts, fishing in summer lakes and travelling in winter by dog team, of sun-returning parties, and drum-dancing and New Year feasts. This is a delightfully warm celebration of the north in the days just before skidoos and cell phones took the edge off the isolation.
Keith Billington trained as a Registered Nurse in Britain and later studied Public Health Nursing at Dalhousie University, Halifax. He and his wife Muriel, also an English-trained nurse and midwife, emigrated to Canada to work at the Fort McPherson Nursing Station in the Mackenzie Delta. They had two children born in the north and a third was born later in British Columbia. Keith continued to work with, and for, First Nations people and he and his wife now live in Prince George, BC, where Keith writes articles on their outdoor adventures. This is his first book.