Reluctant Pioneer

Overview

Thomas Osborne delivers a gripping account of 1870s Ontario pioneer life.

The view 16-year-old Thomas Osborne first had of Muskoka was at night, trudging alone with his even younger brother along unmarked primitive roads to find their luckless father who, in 1875, had decided to make a new start for his beleaguered family on some "free land" in the bush east of the pioneer village of Huntsville, Ontario. The miracle is that Thomas lived to tell the tale.

For the next five years Thomas endured starvation, falling through the ice and freezing, accidents with axes and boats, and narrow escapes from wolves and bears. Many years later, after returning to the United States, Osborne wrote down all his adventures in a graphic memoir that has become, in the words of author and journalist Roy MacGregor, "an undiscovered Canadian classic."

Reluctant Pioneer provides a brooding sense of adventure and un- sentimental realism to deliver a powerful account of pioneer life where tragedies arrive as naturally as rain and where humour resides in irony.

Reviews

[Osborne’s] adventures make for an exciting story full of escapades, back -breaking work, isolation and ingenuity. . . Readers will also enjoy the accounts of all the people they met during their time in the North Portage.

The Bracebridge Examiner (August, 2013)

About the Authors

Thomas Osborne

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
Thomas Osborne photo

Thomas Osborne

Thomas Osborne came as a teen in the 1870s from the United States to homestead with his father in Ontario's Muskoka. After five dramatic years he returned to the United States to live and work in Pennsylvania and New York. In 1938 he was killed by an automobile in San Diego, California.

Roy MacGregor

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Roy MacGregor

Roy MacGregor is the bestselling author of Home Team: Fathers, Sons, and Hockey (shortlisted for the Governor General's Award), Northern Light, and Canadians. Currently, he is a regular columnist for the Globe & Mail. His journalism has earned him four National Magazine Awards and two National Newspaper Awards. In 2012 he became a Media Honouree Hockey Hall of Fame. He lives in Ottawa.