MACK, Clayton




Author Tags: Aboriginal Authors, Outdoors

Born in 1910 at Nieumiamus Creek, or “place of flies,” Clayton Mack was a descendant of Bella Coola chiefs. He attended residential school and worked as a logger, fisherman and a rancher before becoming a tracker and hunting guide. A walking encyclopedia of tribal knowledge, he spent 53 years on the B.C. central coast, guiding the rich and famous on trophy hunts that felled an estimated 300 grizzly bears. In the 1960s he was flown to Hollywood where he reportedly mesmerized the California jet set with his hunting tales. His storytelling abilities led to his two collections of memoirs compiled and edited by his physician Harvey Thommasen, Grizzlies & White Guys: The Stories of Clayton Mack (1993) and Bella Coola Man: More Stories of Clayton Mack (1994).

The story goes that when when explorer Thor Heyerdahl was forced to remain in Canada in 1940, after Germany had invaded his Norwegian homeland, Heyerdahl befriended Mack who took him to see pictographs at Kwatna Inlet. Heyerdahl asked Mack if he thought it would be possible for his ancestors to have reached Hawaii in a dugout canoe and Clayton Mack suggested they might have used giant rafts of kelp. Later Heyerdahl made his famous voyage in the South Pacific on a raft named Kon-Tiki. Clayton Mack suffered a stroke in 1988, moved into long-term care at the Bella Coola Hospital, and died in 1993.

BOOKS:

Mack, Clayton & Harvey Thommasen. Grizzlies & White Guys: The Stories of Clayton Mack (Harbour, 1993).
Mack, Clayton & Harvey Thommasen. Bella Coola Man: More Stories of Clayton Mack (Harbour, 1994).

[BCBW 2005]