Riding the Continent

By (author): Hamilton Mack Laing

Introduction by: Richard Mackie

Edited by: Trevor Marc Hughes

Hamilton Mack Laing was an illustrious early British Columbia writer and naturalist. But few know him as how he described himself in his mid-thirties: a motorcycle-naturalist. For several years beginning in 1914, Laing used the motorcycle to access the natural world, believing it gave him a distinct advantage over other forms of transportation. During this period in his life he would take on a transcontinental journey, riding across the United States from Brooklyn to Oakland in 1915. His previously unpublished manuscript of this journey has been hidden away for nearly a century. Now, its pages telling the tale of his “six-weeks’ perambulation” will be available to readers for the first time. Riding the Continent tells the story of a pioneering motorcyclist and independently thinking naturalist as well as an unusual road trip. As Laing put it, “the lure of the unending road is a call that will not be denied.” Laing’s tale explores the beauty of North America’s bird life, describes the sights, scenery and people he encountered, and takes us along for the ride on a 1915 Harley-Davidson he named Barking Betsy. Also included are a foreword by Laing biographer and B.C. historian Richard Mackie and an afterword by editor and motorcycle travel writer Trevor Marc Hughes.


“Laing’s cross-country motorcycle journey in 1915 on Barking Betsy was a unique and exciting accomplishment in its day, and his remarkable journal from the ride is a fascinating read.” – Mark Tuttle, Editor-in-Chief Rider Magazine “Laing has provided us with as much a detailed description of the lands travelled through, the people he happened to encounter and, most especially, of the flora and fauna seen, as he does about actually riding his motorcycle. . .This book should give pleasure to more than just devotees of the motorcycle travelogue sub-genre and appeal to a far wider readership.” – Steve Koerner, author of The Strange Death of the British Motorcycle Industry, for The Ormsby Review “More than a century [after Laing’s 1915 journey], motorcycle essayist Trevor Hughes, author of two motorcycle travelogues, has retrieved and edited Laing’s unpublished memoir as Riding the Continent.” – Alan Twigg, BC Bookworld “Trevor Marc Hughes restores much-deserved national attention to one of Canada’s greatest, if sadly neglected, environmental trailblazers.” – Loys Maingon, Environmental Historian


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170 Pages
8.99in * 6.05in * .6in


May 01, 2019


Ronsdale Press



Book Subjects:

TRANSPORTATION / Motorcycles / General

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