Henderson, Norman S. 1960-
HENDERSON, Norman S. 1960-
PERSONAL: Born January 22, 1960, in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Education: University of East Anglia, Ph.D. (environmental sciences), 1991.
CAREER: Environmentalist and author. Senior government policy advisor on resource and environmental management, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Contributor to scholarly journals and newspaper columns in Canada, Australia, and the United States.
SIDELIGHTS: Norman S. Henderson is an environmental specialist, one of the world's leading experts on great temperate grasslands, and author of numerous journal and newspaper articles focusing primarily on the Great Plains. "A fascination with the Great Plains, and its sister grasslands, the Steppe and Pampas, has been my motivation for writing," the author told CA. Henderson is the author of the book Rediscovering the Great Plains: Journeys by Dog, Canoe, and Horse.
Although the great plains extend from the United States north through Canada, the native Canadian focuses his book on a relatively small region of the Great Plains called Qu'Appelle valley in Saskatchewan, Canada. In Rediscovering the Great Plains: Journeys by Dog, Canoe, and Horse, Henderson recounts his experiences and observations while taking three trips through the 200-mile-long valley via dog travois—a wooden rack pulled by dogs or horses—canoe, and horse travois. Indians and settlers of the past commonly used all three of these modes of travel. In addition to recounting his adventures, Henderson discusses some of the Great Plain's history and historical figures, like noted explorers Lewis and Clark. He also interweaves stories and history of other great temperate grasslands, including the South American pampas and the Eurasian steppes.
According to a North Dakota State University Web site news release, Tom Isern called the journey by dog travois "the most intriguing of the three journeys," noting that "the writer's observations about the mutual accommodations, canine and human, entailed by this type of travel are to be savored." Isern also pointed out that Henderson has a general ambivalence for horses and livestock. "That brings me to another reason plains folk should read Rediscovering the Great Plains," Isern noted. "The book emanates the attitudes of many urban North Americans who have lost touch with the land, who seek to reconnect with it, but who don't much like what they find."
Writing in Publishers Weekly, a reviewer noted that traveling the Great Plains may seen an "epic adventure" but that Henderson actually spent only a few weeks on the plains. Nevertheless, the reviewer said, "His account, though geographically and chronologically limited, is buoyantly far-reaching in its passion for the parries of Canada (his native land), the pampas of Argentina and the steppes of Eurasia, places whose human and ecological histories he weaves into his narrative with a scholar's delight in making connections." Stewart Kellerman, writing for the New York Times Book Review, commented, "Obviously this guy takes his prairies seriously, perhaps too seriously, and his obsessions makes for a book that is by turns fascinating, entertaining and exasperating." In a review of the book for the Society for the History of Discoveries Web site, Richard Francaviglia said, "Rich in detailed description and philosophical insight, Rediscovering the Great Plains makes wonderful reading. This is the kind of book one savors."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
New York Times Book Review, May 19, 2002, Stewart Kellerman, review of Rediscovering the Great Plains: Journeys by Dog, Canoe, and Horse, p. 43.
Publishers Weekly, October 29, 2001, review of Rediscovering the Great Plains, p. 44.
Society for the History of Discoveries,http://www.sochistdisc.gov/ (December 30, 2002), Richard Francaviglia, review of Rediscovering the Great Plains: Journeys by Dog, Canoe, and Horse.*