Lillian Alling - The Journey Home

lillian alling book cover

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 Yukon. Finally, on a make-shift boat, 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.

Buy the book

Lillian Alling: the journey home is available at:

  • your local bookstore
  • directly from Caitlin Press
  • On Amazon both as a paperback and as an ebook


Lillian Alling: the journey home has received some great reviews. Travel writer Lawrence Millman says "Lillian Alling: the journey home is a seamless blend of research, history, speculation, and storytelling. I can't recommend it too highly!"
To read the whole review, click here

B.C. Studies journal says, "The author carefully probes and tests the many accounts of Alling’s journey. Her research investigation through archival records, genealogy, fieldwork, and other sources is explicit. Combined methodologies engage readers in historical and speculative detective work that will appeal to mystery solvers through popular history.
To read that review in its entirety, click here

Lillian Alling: the journey home was consistently in the top 100 books on in Adventurers/Explorers-Canada for about six months. In addition, the book was also on the B.C. Bestseller list.

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Photo of Lillian and dog taken by Jim Christie, Yukon Telegraph lineman, 1928