When he was a boy, Tom Morimoto saved up a dollar and ordered a book called How to Box so he could defend himself against the kids who called him “Jap.” In fact, Morimoto has always been a fighter who went from working in his father’s market garden to working with sheikhs in Dubai. If anyone should write a memoir it is Tom Morimoto, and he has done it grandly with Breaking Trail.
Morimoto lived through a historic period before the modern age changed the North forever. He describes his childhood growing up in Depression-era Fort McMurray and the town’s characters: old-timer trappers, German barons, and bush pilots like Wop May, and R. B. Bennett’s dipsomaniac brother, George.
As a young man, Morimoto worked on an Athabasca River scow and as a radio operator for Canadian Airways before travelling to Yellowknife to stake gold claims and work in the Negus gold mine. His next adventure found him serving as a signalman during the Second World War, and surviving Juno Beach on D-Day. Later, Morimoto became a chemical engineer, a pioneer in the burgeoning gas industry in Alberta. He eventually managed a gas plant in Dubai.
Breaking Trail is a rich memoir from a man who has experienced much of what the twentieth century offered northern and western Canada. It is not only the story of a life well-lived but also a wonderful tale with the characters and places common to the most opulent of novels.