Wild West Women: Travellers, Adventurers and Rebels


256 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55285-013-7
DDC 920.72'09711





Reviewed by Brenda Reed

Brenda Reed is a public services librarian in the Education Library at
Queen’s University.


Neering’s knowledge about British Columbia is evident from her
previous history and travel books. In this unusual book, she tells the
stories of adventuresome women in British Columbia’s mining towns and
wilderness country from the 1860s through the mid-to-late 20th century.

The women profiled in the book’s 13 chapters include trappers and
hunters, hotel and boarding-house owners, gold prospectors and miners,
entertainers and “shady ladies,” artists and writers. Many of the
women rebelled against the traditional roles of Victorian women; for
these women, the B.C. wilderness offered a refuge from the civilization
that had mistreated or condemned them. What emerges from this book is
their courage and strength as they struggled to make a living in the
frontier communities of the West. Notable for her fortitude and
persistence was Lillian Alling, a Russian immigrant who made the arduous
journey from New York City to (at least) Dawson City in 1927–28.

Given the primacy of place and land in this book, the absence of a map
with the key place names included is a real problem, particularly for
readers trying to imagine the travels of the women. Still, Wild West
Women is a welcome contribution to the social history of British
Columbia. Highly recommended for readers with a taste for true stories
that seem stranger than fiction.


Neering, Rosemary., “Wild West Women: Travellers, Adventurers and Rebels,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/7815.