George Mercer Dawson is a towering figure in Canadian history — and science — as the man who led the Geological Survey during its exploration of the Canadian West, mostly from horseback or from a canoe. A tough job for anyone, it was an extraordinary achievement for Dawson. Born in 1849, Dawson was crippled by a childhood illness that left him hunchbacked and in constant pain. He never grew taller than a young boy, and he never let his disabilities stop him. An avid photographer, amateur painter, professional geologist and botanist, and by necessity an ethnographer, Dawson wrote constantly: poetry, journals, reports, notes, and more than five thousand letters, his first at the age of six and his last just two days before he died in 1901.rnrnBut Dawson never wrote his memoirs. So, a century after his death, Phil Jenkins has lent him a hand. Using Dawson’s own words, and filling in the gaps in Dawson’s voice, Jenkins presents the man who left his heart in western Canada. Their countless stories — from witnessing the last great buffalo stampede to encountering the timeless customs of the Haida — evoke the real excitement of the age of exploration. Dawson knew the pain of unrequited love, suffered the bite of a million mosquitoes, and yet he travelled on, over mountainous physical odds, to become one of the most respected and enjoyed of Victorian Canadians, in the thought-provoking times of Dickens and Darwin.