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City Wolves [Hardcover]

Dorris Heffron
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 28 2008

A moving historical tale and remarkable literary achievement, City Wolves is the story of Canada's first woman veterinarian, Meg Wilkinson. Born in 1870 on a farm near Halifax, Meg's childhood experience with wolves makes her determined to be a veterinarian. Supported by the seemingly eccentric Randolph Oliphant and inspired by the ancient Inuit who first turned wolves into sled dogs, Meg surpasses the horse doctors at vet college and becomes the notorious 'dog doctor of Halifax' in the 1890s. After her unusual marriage ends abruptly in Boston, Meg travels to Vancouver and up to the Yukon, seeking the legendary sled dogs. Arriving at the beginning of the Klondike gold rush, she makes her way amidst Mounties, dance hall girls, Klondike Kings, mushers, priests and swindlers...all the mangy and magnificent people, dogs and spirits that populated raucous Dawson City.

Observed through the restless spirit of Inuit Ike, this is lively, insightful, historical fiction, subtly revealing the wolf-like nature of humans and the human nature of wolves. Both earthy and reflective, City Wolves is an important story told with compassion, humour and unflinching realism. In this her fifth novel, Dorris Heffron has created a wide range of unforgettable characters and achieved a breadth of vision exploring the deep conflicts and interconnection of social beings in a way that is uniquely Canadian and profoundly universal.

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Historical romance, pioneering feminism, Inuit spirit guides, wolves, dogs, real people mingling with fictional ones, a fresh take on the Klondike gold rush ... this is entertainment. An indomitable heroine takes city wolves into the wilderness and makes them howl. I for one could not stop listening. (Ken McGoogan, Pierre Berton History Prize winner)

About the Author

Dorris Heffron was born in Noranda, Quebec. While teaching for Oxford University throughout the seventies, she wrote three novels about teenagers which were internationally acclaimed as pioneers of young adult literature. Returning to Canada in 1980, she became an active member of writers' organizations and wrote the popular adult novel, A Shark in the House. She lives with her pack and sled dogs at Little Creek Wolf Range near Collingwood, Ontario.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful movie Oct. 24 2011
Dorris Heffron has walked a fine line between fact and fiction and has created a wonderful story. It's about time the stories of Canada's history were told. What a wonderful movie this would make, if it doesn't get silly Disney hokey. I can just see the story set in the amazing panoramas of Canada's natural scenery. Perhaps Robert Redford would pick it up in the same vein as Milagro Beanfield Wars!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This work of historical fiction follows Meg Wilkinson from her childhood in Halifax through her struggle to become Canada's first female veterinarian and her journey north in the early days of the Yukon gold rush. Driven by her love of wolves and her fascination with sled dogs, Wilkinson arrives in Dawson City as waves of fortune seekers fan out over the territory to stake their claims. Throughout the tale, Wilkinson is watched over by the restless spirits of an Inuit couple, the first to take wolves from the wild and raise them to pull sleds. Painstakingly researched, CITY WOLVES weaves together history and fiction to document the evolution of sled dogs and delve into the similarities between the social structure of wolves and humans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canadian Adventure at its greatest Sept. 8 2010
This is a great novel, I've read it twice.

The story is about Meg Wilkinson, a strong woman who takes adventure where she can find it. She leaves home and tragedy in Nova Scotia for the rough and wild territory of the Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. Meg's trailblazing tendency, both literal and figurative, leads her to become the first female veterinarian in Canada. She does it bravely but without flamboyance. Just simple adventure. Some support her, some do not. She takes the support and leaves the rest.
Meg falls in love with the independent, spirited sled dogs of the north.
Meg's story is laced with the Inuit tale of Ike and Piji, an ancient couple of the Malamute tribe who raise wolf pups as children and founded the Malamute sled dog breed.
The read is easy, but the digestion lasts long after the pages are turned. The real-life aspect of the story makes it a compelling, adventurous and authentic tale. The characters are varied, real and so interesting!
Do read this book. It should become a Canadian classic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars OF TRAILS AND TRAILBLAZERS Nov. 11 2011
AS REVIEWED BY CAROLYN GOSSAGE : There is something about the image of a sled dog that immediately strikes a respondent chord in my mush-loving heart. Almost from the moment I cracked open Dorris Heffron's CITY WOLVES ( Dundurn Press, Toronto ) I was captivated. Weaving historical fact and colourful fictitious characters, Heffron takes us on a journey that begins with a spirited young backwoods girl who, at any early age, develops a special kinship with a local wolf pack. After arriving in Halifax to continue her education,this early affinity soon translates into an unswerving ambition to work with animals and become accepted as a student at the local veterinary college. In the late 1800's, for a young woman, this was hardly a viable option, but neither is Heffron's heroine someone willing to sit on her hands and take no for an answer.
After more than a few unexpected twists and turns in the story-line, we find ourselves in the rip-roaring Canadian Yukon in the midst of the 1898 Gold Rush. The land of sled dogs, prospectors and whiskey by the barrel. It's a powerful mix and Heffron doesn't disappoint. The magic of her love affair with malemutes is borne out in the telling of this meticulously researched turn-of-the century tale of adventure in the frozen North.
PS .. And a thumbs up for CITY WOLVES from CBC's Shelagh Rogers, too !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars City Wolves Oct. 17 2011
By bio-diversity - Published on
I own and have bred Alaskan Malamutes. My dogs are from the Storm Kloud line, Nancy Russell's kennel. I enjoyed this book on a number of levels:
1. Finally we are getting some wonderful historical fiction about Canada - not the dry history from dusty history books that has been served up in our education system, but stories that bring Canada to life. Canada has stories, wonderful stories and we need to tell the stories.
2. This book is well written; good descriptive passages, good character studies and,as a reader,I would like to know more about the lives described by Dorris Hefflon.
3. Above all, the story of the dogs. Alaskan malamutes are a challenge: gorgeous, opinionated, scary to some, definitely not for everyone, but give their souls to their work and to the pack leader who earns their allegiance and respect.
As a Canadian, who loves the outdoors and the fact we still have the opportunity to interact with our wildlife, and it isn't always "safe", I thought this book is a very good read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars city wolves June 1 2010
By Arlene Koyle - Published on
The best book I've read in years! Fiction that reads like fact - Dorris Heffron is a stellar author who tells an enthralling tale of life during the Yukon Goldrush and the hardships endured by the settlers (and their dogs) in Dawson City. When can I get it for the iPad?
5.0 out of 5 stars good book Jan. 16 2014
By Tillie Ruth Lile - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love story and books about this era, lots of history and lots of excitement . I think I will read this book again.
5.0 out of 5 stars CITY WOLVES: historical adventure at its finest Oct. 9 2013
By alex szollo - Published on
I'm fascinated with dogs and I'm a huge historical fiction buff, so this book seemed like a must-read, and it really is! Set in the 19th century, it chronicles the life of Meg Wilkinson, a female vet trying to make a living during the famous gold rush of the time, ending up as The Dog Doctor of Halifax. The novel is beautifully written, with memorable characters that leap off the page, and a gripping storyline that keeps the pages turning. It is obviously written by a dog lover, the relationship between sled dogs and the humans who mush them being very well fleshed out. Strong main character, epic scope, astonishing panorama of the times, shades of a ghost/spirit story going on... 10 stars out of 5!
4.0 out of 5 stars City Wolves Jan. 25 2013
By Elfie - Published on
Doris Heffron is a well-established writer of long standing whose work is always worth reading. Considered one of the originators of the Young Adult (YA) genre.
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