The Saskatchewan


343 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7720-1396-9





Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



History dominates geography in this work. The book looks at the great prairie river from every point of interest, but it is the history of exploration and settlement that gets the bulk of the author’s attention.

The first sections constitute an excellent introduction to the fur trade era, with the Hudson’s Bay Company establishing its presence in Indian territory. For readers who met the HBC only in grade-school texts, Campbell’s detailed treatment will be a much more realistic introduction to the opening of the Canadian west.

The tale of the Saskatchewan is the account of the people who came to its shores and tried to survive on its banks or in its drainage plains. The content is fascinating; the style is monotonous in the extreme. Campbell includes valuable information on the early efforts to steamboat on a river of shoals, the struggles of the isolated farmers, the efforts to bridge the river, and dozens of other related topics. Unfortunately, she doesn’t present this material in a style likely to be acceptable to busy, modern readers.

The absence of illustrations and photographs is a major defect in the work, as there is a desperate need for some relief from page after page, chapter after chapter of flat prose. Incredibly, this book won a Governor General’s award.

The reprint will be useful as a reference volume: the index and bibliography make it highly useful to anyone looking for specific facts from the history of the river.


Campbell, Marjorie Wilkins, “The Saskatchewan,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed August 19, 2022,