Man and Dog

One man, one dog, a grand adventure across the Newfoundland wilderness. Recently we spoke with adventurer, author, filmmaker and public speaker Justin Barbour about his latest effort, Man and Dog, the chronicle of his journey across his home province with his Cape Shore canine Saku.

What are your roots?
I'm a Newfoundlander born and bred. I grew up in the small outport community of Bauline.

Where do you currently reside, and how old are you?
I currently live in Grand Falls-Windsor, NL and I am 31 years old.

When and why did you start writing?
I've always written, for school of course. And I don't think it was until I wrote a paper on the obesity epidemic in university that I realized I enjoyed it. Not only the writing, but also the research and organizing of information. When I received the graded paper from my prof there wasn't near as much red ink on it as my past works of failure and my grade was my best ever, 80 percent. Time passed and I didn't write. Then I began to read good adventure books and was inspired not only to go on my own trips, but also to write about them.

Are they the same reasons you do it today?

How have your grown as a writer over that time?
I used to write a bit on my blog 4 or 5 years ago. When first I got into these trips. Looking back at those posts now and comparing them to today's writing is like night and day. Currently I'm working on a new book and everyday I notice improvements in my writing. It's fun to craft just like any other art. 

What inspired/motivated you to write Man & Dog?
Reading past books of great adventure and wanting to share my experiences because I believed people would learn from them.

What was the most challenging aspect of the process? 
Writing the first draft not knowing what would become of it and if it would even get published.

What was the most rewarding part of the experience? 
Holding the book in my hands and hearing others say how much they enjoyed reading it.

What did you learn during the process?
That we can do anything if we believe. When I first got the idea to write it back in 2015 I could scarcely picture things working out and it seemed nearly impossible. But here we are.

How much research was involved?
Hours pouring through old Newfoundland books and journals. Read up on the indigenous peoples, early explorers, and other woods people of the past. 

How did you feel when the book was completed?
Felt some relief. It was an arduous process but entirely worth every minute. My fiancée Heather was happy to see me crawl out of the basement for a break.

What has the response been like from those that have read it?
Folks seems to be enjoying it. Who doesn't love a good adventure story of human and their dog with some history on the past pioneers mixed in? It was the top local seller at Chapter and Coles in Newfoundland for the month of October. I'll take it!

Why is it an important work?
Because the outdoors of this province and its natural history is amazing. And it's important that people continue to take a crack at documenting some of it to enrich the public knowledge for years to come. Creating conversation about the wilderness so more will appreciate, respect and utilize it is also needed. Especially with the newer generation who seem to be losing touch. Most important is inspiring others to go after their own big dreams and to never give up. I think my book covers all these angles to an extent.

What makes a good book?
That's a hard question. I just love books about adventure and outdoor lifestyle. Everything that falls in that category is good for me.

Is your creative process more 'inspirational' or 'perspirational'?
A mixture.

What are your thoughts on Newfoundland literature today?
I think we've produced a lot of great works in the past and have more great works to come. Writing and storytelling is a big part of our history and we need to continue to embrace it. We're good at it. It's in our blood b'y. And the opportunities are there. So to all the Newfoundland writers keep writing!

What's next on your creative agenda?
I have a few things on the go. I'm editing a documentary for my YouTube channel on an 83-day expedition across Labrador from 2018. I hope to release that early 2020. I'm also writing a book on that same trip all while touring and speaking to promote this new book we're here talking about. I love this work so it's all exciting. But in the winter the wheels will slow and I'm takin a long trip into the woods. 

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