Lillian Alling

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Lillian Alling was an Estonian immigrant [1] from Russia who tried to return to Russia from New York, USA mostly on foot.

Description from a book by Calvin Rutstrum[edit]

The following is an excerpt from Calvin Rutstrum's The New Way of the Wilderness (1958):

In the summer of 1927, Lillian Alling, a young Russian immigrant, homesick and compelled to perform menial tasks for a living in New York, made up her mind to go back to her homeland in Europe. Because she had no money for transportation, she decided to hike back to her native country. She tramped to Chicago, to Minneapolis, to Winnipeg, refusing all invitations to ride.

She was next seen on the Yukon Telegraph Trail in the northern part of British Columbia, Canada, a small pack on her back and a length of iron pipe in her hand for protection, heading towards Alaska. The provincial police at Hazelton prevented her from making a winter journey through the Canadian wilds, but they were able to detain her only until spring.

Starting out again, she hiked along the Telegraph Trail, over the wild mountain passes, finally reaching Dawson where she worked as a cook, purchased and repaired an old boat, and in the spring of 1929, launched it into the waters of the Yukon River right behind the outgoing ice reaching a point east of the Seward Peninsula. She abandoned the boat for overland travel, reaching Nome and later Bering Strait. She was last heard bartering with the Eskimos for boat passage across the Strait to Asia.

Alling's story provided the loose inspiration for Away, an acclaimed 2007 novel by Amy Bloom.

In 2007 Vancouver Opera announced a commission of an opera based on the Lillian Alling story. Composed by John Estacio, with a libretto by John Murrell, it premiered on 16 October 2010. The Banff Centre also presented the opera at the end of August 2011.

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