Beyond Mile Zero: The Vanishing Alaska Highway Lodge Community

Lily Gontard and Mark Kelly. Harbour (Midpoint, U.S. dist.), $24.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-55017-797-8
Yukoners Gontard and Kelly take readers on a memorable journey up the Alaska Highway, stopping along the way to meet the families that have made a living, and a life, providing fuel, food, and lodging to travelers on what was once a notoriously difficult highway to drive. Starting just north of Dawson Creek, B.C., and ending 20 miles east of Delta Junction, Ala., this debut book is an impressive catalogue of history, folklore, and fond memories, complete with mouthwatering descriptions of home cooking. Gontard recounts stories of hard work, hard times, and fortitude as lodges have endured, and sometimes succumbed to, economic and geographic realities. She seems overly concerned with representing each subject’s account word for word, however, and the writing has no real arc of its own. Kelly’s photographs are haunting and beautiful images of decaying lodges where broken signs and overgrown grass tell this highway’s history at a gut level. Photos of operating lodges and their owners, all personality and originality, remind readers that the Alaska Highway lodge community, though diminished, remains vital. The book makes a strong case for traveling the Alaska Highway while its old-world hospitality still exists. Agent: Marilyn Biderman, Marilyn Biderman Literary Management (July)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2017
Release date: 06/01/2017
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