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Labrador memoir a record-breaker for ISER Books

By Janet Harron | May 1, 2013




The latest offering from the Faculty of Arts’ ISER Books, I Never Knowed It Was Hard by Labrador trapper Louie Montague, is likely the fastest selling book in the publisher’s 47-year history, according to new managing editor Alison Carr.

“We printed 1,000 and have shipped nearly 800 in less than a month.  The orders are continuing to flood in -- if this continues we might have to reprint,” said Ms. Carr, who attributes the record sales to the book’s widespread appeal.

“Louie is a compelling storyteller and his knowledge of Labrador life and the Naskaupi River is encyclopedic. It’s simply a fascinating read that we are discovering appeals to a lot of people.”

The 77-year-old Louis Montague has travelled Labrador extensively as a trapper, hunter, prospector and guide and as an employee of the provincial forestry and wildlife departments. In the book, which he dedicated to his companion and editor Elizabeth Dawson, Mr. Montague talks about his family, trapping, hunting, caring for sled dogs, encounters with Innu in the country, woodworking and, most importantly, life on the Naskaupi River, especially the impact on the community since the damming of its source for the Upper Churchill project in the 1970s.

Mr. Montague eloquently describes how changes to the land have affected the present and will affect the future, a particularly timely contribution considering the controversy over the current Lower Churchill project.

“My work is done now,” said Mr. Montague. “It’s up to people to read it and make up their own minds.”

Both the author and editor say they had a great experience working with the ISER team.

“We have nothing to compare it to, but felt very supported and respected during the process, and still do,” said Ms. Dawson. “Alison has been wonderful and has our confidence in the ways she is going about promoting the book . . . This is a new adventure for us."

The team has already received favourable reviews from many readers who cite Mr. Montague’s credibility and the memories his tales have stirred  up.

Ms. Carr says it is Mr. Montague’s remarkable memory and unique understanding of nature that makes I Never Knowed It Was Hard: Memories of Labrador Trapper, such a unique and accessible volume.

It is available for purchase on the ISER Books website (, at the Memorial University Bookstore, Costco and other retailers.