Once he'd fully documented the episode, Aiken wrote a work of historical fiction about it. The political intrigues woven into his rich tale of local and national affairs from 140 years ago will resonate with readers today. No Return seems familiar in its essential dramas and human ambitions – mismatched lovers, a local judge fighting a newspaper editor, lumber barons playing both sides to keep their timber licences, and contractors changing political sides to win government business.
Not only do such prominent Muskokans as Cockburn – the steamboat pioneer and father of Muskoka tourism – feature in this tale, but so do national leaders like prime minister John A. Macdonald and stellar opposition leaders like Oliver Mowat and Edward Blake. Aiken wrote with deep understanding about Muskoka and its people, and from acute knowledge of parliamentary practices. Originally published in 1982 as Returning Officer, this new 2010 edition from Blue Butterfly Books is updated in many ways besides its new title, with period photographs, new cover, and background about Gordon Aiken and his writing career.
No Return is an important part of Muskoka's heritage, but it also is a timeless Canadian story of one man's struggle to support his chosen party, maintain his independence, confound his enemies, and hold his family together under duress.
— Review by J. Patrick Boyer