I was delighted to hear from one of my fellow DDRA committee members that Alastair Dunnett’s book The Canoe Boys has appeared in a new edition. I hadn’t realised that the previous edition had run out, as it was still on the shelves the last time I’d checked for it. Which rather shows how easily, even after 21 years in the book trade, you can lose touch with things once you’re no longer working with them day to day.
Canoe Boys really is a classic. Alastair had a lovely writing style and the descriptions of pre-war West of Scotland life and the people that he and Seumas Adam encountered on their voyage north are truely evocative of a culture which has largely passed into history. At that time the sea was still the main means of communication for much of the west coast – roads were poor and slow going – and apart from the Clyde puffers the areas were pretty much isolated away from the Oban and Fort William railheads. You can get a real sense of the feelings he had for the area and the positive attitudes he would take into his work at the Scottish Office and later as editor of The Scotsman. The book now has an introduction and extra notes by his son Ninian and we must hope that it stays in print for many more years. Though I’ve long had a copy of the previous edition I’ll be buying a copy of this one too.
Published by In Pinn,