APOL has this week completed a solo transit of the Northwest Passage, becoming the first book in recorded history to complete the voyage alone—or so it announced at a bookstore in Kugluktuk. “No, I can’t prove I was alone,” it told a skeptical reader, “but I don’t need to prove anything. I’m a novel, see? I’m totally made up.”
The existence of a channel connecting the Atlantic and Pacific across the Arctic, referred to variously as Maldonado’s Passage or the Strait of Anián, was long considered the stuff of myth. The route eluded mariners for centuries. Many sought it, and many died in the process. Harsh cold and extensive sea ice rendered the Arctic’s waters virtually un-navigable.
The passage was finally confirmed to exist in the nineteenth century, and the first, difficult voyage through it was made by Roald Amunsdsen in 1903-06. Still, pack ice prevented its use for most of the year. Only in recent years, with the decline of Arctic sea ice, has the waterway become more navigable, and this has raised its international profile. Various nations consider it an international strait, giving their vessels right of transit, while Canada claims it is a domestic waterway, lying within Canadian territorial limits, and subject to Canadian law.
APOL has discovered evidence supporting Canada’s case, in the form of clear proof of Canadian sovereignty over the Northwest Passage: national icon Tim Hortons is already doing a roaring business in the communities that line its shores. And, oh yes—the Inuit have lived there for a thousand years, although the “double-double” is a relatively recent tradition.
Note: “APOL” is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, which has gone on tour without me (with a wink and a nod to magical realism). Follow APOL’s quixotic world tour here or on my Facebook Author Page, and read about all of APOL’s (mis)adventures in sequence on this tour archive. For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.