Lillian Alling: The Journey Home (Extraordinary Women (Caitlin Press))
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In 1926, Lillian Alling, a European immigrant, set out on a journey home from New York. She had little money and no transportation, but plenty of determination. In the three years that followed, Alling walked all the way to Dawson City, Yukon, crossing the North American continent on foot. She walked across the Canadian landscape, weathering the baking sun and freezing winter, crossed the rugged Rocky Mountains and hiked the untested wilderness of British Columbia and the Yukon. Finally, on a make-shift raft, she sailed alone down the Yukon River from Dawson City all the way to the Bering Sea.
Lillian Alling is a legend. She has been the subject of novels, plays, epic poems, an opera and more tall tales than can be remembered. Her life has been subjected to speculation, fiction and exaggeration. But as legendary as she may be, the true story of Lillian Alling has never been told. "The Mystery Woman," as she came to be known, is as intriguing to us now as she was to those she met on her trek. Lillian's name lives on in the folk tales of British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska, but her life leading up to her journey and what waited for her at home in Eastern Europe still remains a shadowy mystery.
Lillian Alling: The Journey Home is a collection of personal documents, first-hand recollections, family tales and archival research that provide tantalizing new clues to Lillian's story. Smith-Josephy places Lillian firmly in the context of history and among the cast of unique and colourful characters she met along her journey.
authorities. Although she appears to have had quite a temper when she was under pressure, she seems to have stoically tolerated being cornered by people or forced indoors by the weather or institutionalized because she knew she would soon be on her own and outdoors again. To me, she seems to have been a reasonable human being on a very difficult quest. * Lillian Alling’s tale has been fictionalized a number of times, probably because her spirit resonates with the romantic in all of us. She has
that she was rejected because she was neither American nor Canadian. According to her own statement at the Canadian Customs office in Niagara Falls, though she had lived in Canada from 1915 until 1921 and had apparently worked in New York State between 1921 and 1926, she had not applied for citizenship status in either country. And if she had held a visa at any time during that period, it was obviously no longer valid. Changes had occurred in both US and Canadian immigration and travel rules
subsequent to Lillian’s first entry into the United States from Canada. Although there had been a continuous undocumented movement of people back and forth between Canada and the States during the early 1920s, both countries had tightened regulations for people from Europe. In 1921 the US Quota Act had limited the number of immigrants from Europe to about 350,000 per year, and in 1924 the National Origins Act reduced that European quota to about 165,000. In addition, the United States had
She lives in Quesnel, British Columbia. Lillian Alling: The Journey Home is her first book.
records because she was not an American citizen. I also checked the US naturalization records and the United States Social Security Indexes9 because in 1922 Congress passed the Married Women’s Act, also known as the Cable Act, which gave each woman a nationality of her own. Thus, whether Lillian was married or not, she could have applied for citizenship. But there is nothing in their records. No listings for an Alling groom and a Lillian bride were found in the New York City records or in those