The Mountain Can Wait – Canada – Sarah Liepciger

mountain can wait

Why a booktrail?

The haunting relationship between father and son against the raw rugged mountains of British Columbia and Saskatchewan.


Tom Berry is a single father and a loner – quite at home and at peace with his wilderness home. He’s struggled since the death of his wife to raise his sons with the tough love and respect he shows the mountains. his forestry business has taught him all about strength and perseverance and the need for man to respect his surroundings. His relationship with his sons may not be as easy however.

When Curtis is involved in  a  tragic accident and then flees the scene, Tom goes off hunting once again but this time for his son, Whether he can really track him down and reach him this time however is another question.

Place and setting

Literary locations in the book
Where the book opens and the accident occurs
Fort St James
A significant town close to the loggers plantations
Takla Lake
The men are leaving for the logging camp at Takla Lake
One of the lakes in the logging area
“Hills so old they were like old piles of bedsheets”
Nanaimo (the port and harbour)
The search for Curtis leads to here and Vancouver Island. Aguarush island appears to be fictional yet it could be any one of the small islands here

Literary tourism snapshots

Photos courtesy of Sarah Leipciger
Photos courtesy of Sarah Leipciger

Set in a stunning but scarred Canadian landscape, the landscape is at one with the story unfolding and the characters involved in it.

The story takes us from Whistler to Quesnel, Vanderhof, Fort St James and Takla Lake. A significant place is Aguarish Island near Vancouver island and the ferry ride to that place. The place names – Crossbow Creek, McCleod River and Black Pond reveal the close relationship of man and earth.

But the landscape here is something more of a persona experience too for the author not only evokes but recreates the raw and rugged life as a worker on the  lumber plantations of the Canadian Pacific Ranges. This is a lifestyle and setting unfamiliar to many but the details from the author bring this to life –

The logging camp in a dusty, rocky clearing, was small and functional; five long boxcars couple together in a row, elevated on concrete blocks

Accustomed to waiting the planters dropped their bags to the ground, sat against them, and smoked.

As well as the lumber workers however this is the story of the lesser known planters and the competition they face working on the mountains. The main threat however is the climate and the weather where a life in the mountains shapes everything in daily life –

“Weatherman says it only going to keep getting hotter and drier, we’d like you to move to fire hours”

The planters are known to smoke which is a fire hazard and so ‘if seedlings were handled in the middle of the day when it’s baking” they will dry out. Weather here more than anywhere dictates the rhythm of life and work.

The landscape which dictates and shapes everything in this place –

The uniformity of this place had a way of lulling a person into something like a dream

Land and people as one.

Bookish musings

Stark raw prose blends landscape and story well together. Tom searches for his son in a physical and emotional sense and the pain and scars are hard to face. Having had no knowledge of this part of the world and the world of the loggers and planters, it was a fascinating read of the mountains and the superiority of the landscape versus men. In fact the landscape was the central character for it shaped characters and story and I felt drawn into the land and its weather beaten ways.

A slow story for characters and plot but one which lingers with you and builds up a picture of a different life, a different way of thinking, and a father searching for his son in every sense of the word.

The relationships between a single father and his son is not one I’ve read much about and so this was both unique and interesting in equal measure.But it’s the setting which really shines.

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