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when was the incredible journey published?

when was the incredible journey published?

when was the incredible journey published?

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when was the incredible journey published?
when was the incredible journey published?

A classic Canadian story of the bravery and ingenuity of three animals who find their way home.

First published in 1961, The Incredible Journey tells the story of three pets: a young Labrador retriever, an old bull terrier, and a Siamese cat. While their owners are away in England, they are being cared for by a family friend at his home in the country. But a miscommunication occurs between the friend and his housekeeper when he goes on a hunting trip, and the animals are left alone for a several hours, with a gnawing instinct that something has gone wrong. They soon set off on a journey to find home, which instinct tells them is to the west.

They travel 400 kilometres across the Northern Ontario wilderness, facing many obstacles along the way: swift-flowing rivers and the rugged landscape; wild animals and unsympathetic humans; starvation, injuries and sheer exhaustion. Separately they would not have survived, but together this disparate group prevails, and they find their way home to the family they love.



The incredible journey


The timeless story of the friendship, heroism and unwavering loyalty of three remarkable family pets.

‘Only one thing was clear and certain – that at all costs he was going home, home to his own beloved master…

The Hunter children must go abroad for the summer, so they reluctantly leave their three pets in the care of a friend. But the faithful animals only know they must get home again, somehow. So the labrador, the old bull terrier and the dainty Siamese cat set off on a perilous journey through the wilderness. But how will domestic animals fare against river rapids, hunger, icy temperatures and ferocious wild beasts? And if they make it home, will their owners be waiting for them?

Includes exclusive material: In the Backstory you can find out about some incredible real-life pet adventures!

Vintage Children’s Classics is a twenty-first century classics list aimed at 8-12 year olds and the adults in their lives. Discover timeless favourites from The Jungle Book and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to modern classics such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.


Burnford, Sheila

Sheila Burnford, author (b in Scotland 11 May 1918; d at Bucklers Hard, Hampshire, Eng 20 Apr 1984). Educated at private schools in England, France and Germany, Burnford served as a volunteer ambulance driver during WWII before immigrating to Canada and settling in Port Arthur, Ontario.

Her first novel, The Incredible Journey (1961), an immediate international best-seller and a Walt Disney movie (1963), recounts the struggle for survival of 3 friends, a bull terrier, a golden labrador and a siamese cat who travel over 300 km through the northern Ontario wilderness to return home. Among her other works are The Fields of Noon (1964), a book of autobiographical essays; Mr Noah and the Second Flood (1973), an ecological parable for children; and the novel Bel Ria: Dog of War (1977).


when was the incredible journey published?
when was the incredible journey published?

Long Walk Home: The Incredible Journey of Sheila Burnford

In 1961, Sheila Burnford’s first book, The Incredible Journey, became an international bestseller and, eventually, a popular Walt Disney film.


Creative team

Writer: Dianne Brothers
Directors: Kelly Saxberg, Dianne Brothers
Producers: Kelly Saxberg, Ron Harpelle, Dianne Brothers


Filmmakers’ statement

For decades, The Incredible Journey has been a family classic with numerous generations embracing the story of two dogs and a cat lost in the wilderness as they attempted to find their way home. A successful Walt Disney movie (and subsequent remakes) have kept the story in people’s hearts. Less is known about the woman who authored the original book: Sheila Burnford.

Born in Scotland, she was a woman who embraced adventure and found herself in the middle of history during Europe’s most volatile period. After the war, in her new home in Northwestern Ontario, she once again set off in search of adventure. Everything she saw, everything she experienced, would eventually be used in her writings.

Narrated by Sheila’s daughter, Jonquil Burnford Covello and using Sheila’s own words (published works and personal correspondence), family photos and home movies, this film explores the life of an incredible woman who loved adventure, nature and all animals. And in particular her love for a white bull terrier who was with her through the Blitz, life, death and all major family events. Her desire to memorialize him would lead to her greatest triumph.

In researching this film, with the co-operation of Sheila’s daughters, Peronelle, Jonquil and Juliet, we were awed by the life Sheila Burnford lived before and after she arrived in Canada. We feel it is past time for Sheila Burnford to be recognized for the influence she had on Northwestern Ontario and Canadian literature.

About Kelly Saxberg


Kelly Saxberg is a film producer, director, editor and cinematographer who has worked on over 90 films. She works in English, French, Spanish and Finnish.

Most recently she completed Long Walk Home: The Incredible Journey of Sheila Burnford, a short documentary she co-directed with Dianne Brothers.

In 2016, she produced, shot and edited A.K.A. a feature documentary directed by Ron Harpelle about a serial imposter. In 2015, she was the cinematographer and producer of Guardians of Eternity, a documentary directed by France Benoit about the toxic legacy of the Giant Mine in Yellowknife.

In 2014, she produced, shot and edited Pulp Friction, directed by Ron Harpelle, about globalization and the forestry communities Terrace Bay, Ontario, Kemijärvi, Finland and Fray Bentos, Uruguay.

when was the incredible journey published?
when was the incredible journey published?

Seeking Bimaadiziiwin was her debut as a fiction director on a 30-minute drama that looks at depression and suicide among First Nations youth. It won best short film at the American Indian Film Festival and several other awards.

Her other films include Dorothea Mitchell: A Reel PioneerVoyageur’s Legacy: Our Story / Le printemps des voyageurs: La Genèse, the award-winning Banana Split and the NFB production Rosies of the North.


About Dianne Brothers

Dianne Brothers is fairly new to filmmaking, following a career with the Canadian Federal Public Service. Most recently, she was the lead writer and co-director of Long Walk Home: The Incredible Journey of Sheila Burnford.

In 2013 she completed her first film as writer/director, Silence Invader. The film debuted at the Bay Street Film Festival and won a People’s Choice award. It has since been selected by numerous international film festivals and was recently selected as one of the ‘Best Shorts’ at the Faux Film Festival in Portland Oregon.

Her first film experience was working as a script supervisor for Under the Red Star (directed by Kelly Saxberg), a feature-length film shot on film with dozens of actors and over 200 extras. As script supervisor she worked in close proximity with the director and first A.D. and was introduced to how to break down and shoot a scene.

After that initial experience, she worked on two independent films, Chopsticks which she wrote and co-directed, and Sticky Money which she produced and also acted as script supervisor. With Chopsticks, which was made for a 48-hour film challenge, she was involved in all aspects of the film from its initial inception to its post-production and editing.


Awards by Sheila Burnford
when was the incredible journey published?
when was the incredible journey published?
The story of three animal pets traveling in the wilderness won the Canadian Children’s Book of the Year award in 1961 and the ALA Aurianne Award in 1963 as the best book on animal life written for children ages 8–14. It is marketed for children but Mrs Burnford has stated that it was not intended as a children’s book. It was a modest success commercially and became a bestseller after release of the 1963 Disney film, The Incredible Journey. Burnford later wrote other books on Canadian topics. Another was One Woman’s Arctic about her two summers in Pond Inlet, Nunavut on Baffin Island with Susan Ross. She traveled by komatik, a traditional Inuit dog sled, assisted in archaeological excavation, having to thaw the land inch by inch, ate everything offered to her, and saw the migration of the narwhals. This is a world that has experienced unlimited change, but Burnford saw the best and worst of Pond Inlet at a time gone forever.
Why did Sheila burnford write the incredible journey?
Sheila was a great animal lover, although she always said she had a practical view of them. After the death of her Bullterrier, Bill (who had kept her company during the Blitz in the Second World War) she decided to write a book, in part to memorialize him. That book became The Incredible Journey.
Burnford returned to England in later life. She died of cancer at her home in a small village in Hampshire, England, on April 20, 1984.
when was the incredible journey published?
when was the incredible journey published?
She wrote books of fiction and nonfiction for both children and adults. In World War II, she was an ambulance driver. The Incredible Journey was hir first book. Carl Burger was an American illustrator and author of children’s books before he passed away in 1967.

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