In reading ‘North to Cree Lake,’ I became interested in the author, and went looking for some biographical material. There isn’t much to find. While he wrote a lot about others’ lives, he was rather reserved about his own tale. What I did find, I found even more fascinating.
The characters in the Cree Lake story were A.L. Karras and his brother Ab. Their proper names were the author, Art, and his older brother Albert. While Art was born in 1914 in Rosthern, he and his brother grew up in a farming family on the Canadian prairie, 56 miles north of the U.S. border, near the small town of Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan. When he and his brother took off for Cree Lake, 550 miles further north, neither knew anything of outdoor life beyond what they experienced on the farm, knew nothing of the wilderness experience, or trapping, and neither had ever been in a canoe before. If that wasn’t enough, Art was only 18 years of age.
North to Cree Lake was initially promoted primarily by word-of-mouth, but went on to become a classic that has gone through five printings. A. L. Karras went on to write two other books that were biographies on the lives of other Canadian trappers. The first, “Face the North Wind,” told of the lives of Fred Darbyshire and Ed Theriau. Then, his third book, titled “Northern Rover,” told the life story of Olaf Hansen, for whom Hansen Lake and a local road are named.
After his years as a trapper, Art went on to become a grain dealer, town administrator, and school administrator. He passed away in April, 1999, in Nipawin, Saskatchewan.