Two Years in the Oil Sands

448 pages

English language

Published Dec. 25, 2022

Copied ISBN!

View on OpenLibrary

View on Inventaire

5 stars (11 reviews)

Before there was Kate Beaton, New York Times bestselling cartoonist of Hark A Vagrant fame, there was Katie Beaton of the Cape Breton Beatons, specifically Mabou, a tight-knit seaside community where the lobster is as abundant as beaches, fiddles, and Gaelic folk songs. After university, Beaton heads out west to take advantage of Alberta’s oil rush, part of the long tradition of East Coasters who seek gainful employment elsewhere when they can't find it in the homeland they love so much. With the singular goal of paying off her student loans, what the journey will actually cost Beaton will be far more than she anticipates.

Arriving in Fort McMurray, Beaton finds work in the lucrative camps owned and operated by the world’s largest oil companies. Being one of the few women among thousands of men, the culture shock is palpable. It does not hit home until she moves to a …

4 editions

Engrossing from start to finish

5 stars

I've long been a fan of Kate Beaton's work (King Baby was one of my favorite books we read to my kid when he was a baby!), but I wasn't prepared for the emotional impact of Ducks. The wry humor in the slice of life portions were a great foundation for the deeper impacts of life at the camps, and Beaton imbues everyone with such humanity that I felt for everyone even though the impact of the work down at the sands is so horrific.

A deeply human look at a thoroughly dehumanising place

5 stars

This is a powerful memoir which has a lot to say about how we (particularly Canada as a resource extraction colony, but also a broader "we") treat the people whose physical labour runs parts of the economy we'd rather not think about. The experience turned out predictably badly for Beaton, but in looking back she maintained empathy for the people involved, keeping a clear on focus on what the context of oil sands work camps does to people.