cover image Degrees of Separation: A Decade North of 60

Degrees of Separation: A Decade North of 60

Alison McCreesh. Conundrum, $30 trade paper (390p) ISBN 978-1-772-62093-1

Set in Canada’s sparsely populated north, these pleasantly meandering vignettes from McCreesh (Norths) document 10 years committed to adventure and freedom, before taking a turn for the elegiac. In 2008, when she’s in her early 20s, McCreesh heads from Quebec to Dawson City, a small Gold Rush town in the Yukon. For the next decade, first with friends, later with her partner Pat, and eventually with their two young children, she lives a semi-nomadic artist’s life in campers, houseboats, and shacks, earning money as a translator and an art teacher. Refreshingly, she offers no definitive explanation for her wanderlust; instead, the narrative bears gentle, slow-paced witness to her rural, off-the-grid lifestyle, including observations of local Inuit communities, both historical and contemporary. As McCreesh reckons with the demands of adult life, she reflects on the gentrification of a beloved old shanty town, and the devastating effects of climate change on Indigenous life, delicate ecosystems, and local infrastructure. “All is connected... all is changing,” she observes. The panels are densely populated with loose-lined, casual sketches of figures, and interspersed with realistic and detailed illustrations of the northern lights and various artifacts of rural life. It’s poignant ode to the vastness, and interconnectedness, of the North and the people who make their homes there. (Apr.)