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Keith Billington had a great tour of Northwest BC

Posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 1:59pm

Keith Billington, author of House Calls by Dogsled, is back with a new book of hair-raising and heartwarming stories about his experiences providing medical care to an isolated string of First Nations communities in the Arctic. Cold Land, Warm Hearts is an absorbing adventure story that provides deep insight into life in the Far North. Keith gave a talk and slideshow about his adventures and new book in Houston, Terrace, Kitimat, Smithers, Burns Lake and Fraser Lake. Please see our events calender for details.

Keith and his wife, Muriel, lived in the Village of Fort McPherson, just south of Inuvik, and provided devoted care in life-threatening emergencies throughout the 1960s. Although they had many sleepless nights in the nursing station, they still had time for many adventures,— such as sending a dogsled (dogs included) over a frozen waterfall (with minimal damage) or being towed behind a snowmobile on a frozen river, wearing water skis. Many of these adventures involve the Gwich’in people of the North, with whom they became increasingly close. In the course of the six years that Keith and Muriel lived there, they had two children who grew up accepting life in the North—and relishing the bannock and dried meat and fish that their Gwich’in surrogate grandmother, Mary Firth, provided for them. Keith is overflowing with unforgettable stories about his family’s time in the Arctic. His slideshow and talk will set the stage, and his book will leave the reader with a new understanding of what life was like in the Far North, and provide context for what the area will face going into the future.


Keith Billington trained as a registered nurse in Britain and later studied public health at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS. He and his wife, Muriel, also an English-trained nurse and midwife, emigrated to Canada to work at the Fort McPherson Nursing Station overlooking the Mackenzie Delta in 1963. They stayed six years, becoming intimately involved with life in the Western Arctic in the days of dogsleds. The Billingtons now live in Prince George, BC.

This free event was made possible with help from the Canada Council for the Arts. For more information on Keith Billingtons’s slideshow, please contact Harbour Publishing