Five modern classics by Canadian authors

It’s July! When I think of July, I think of two things, Canada Day (because I’m Canadian) and Disability Pride Month.

For this month, I’ll be sharing a book lists both about Canada and about Disability Justice.


Canada has a decent history of supporting local artists.

As far back as the 1930’s, the regulators placed a limit on the amount of foreign programs allowed to be broadcasted. Currently all broadcasters (i.e., radio and TV) must produce and broadcast a certain percentage of Canadian content.

Canada also has many Canadian-specific awards, such as the Junos for music and the Giller Prize and Governor General’s Literary Award for Canadian books.

Also, the Canadian Council for the Arts provides opportunities, funding, and other initiatives to support artists across Canada.

I’m sure that the funding and opportunities haven’t always been so inclusive and inviting. But I love to see our government supporting artists, especially artists from all walks of life and all ethnicities.

Living next to the USA, Canadians often get grouped together with Americans. Sometimes it can feel like we get overshadowed by Americans, that’s why we like to specifically focus on Canadians.

In honour of Canada Day, I wanted to share some modern classics from Canadian authors.

Photo by Ali Tawfiq on Unsplash

Five modern classics by Canadian authors

Here’s a list of five books considered modern classics from Canadian authors.

  1. Fifth Business by Robertson Davies (1970)
  2. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (1993)
  3. Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King (1993)
  4. Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen (2006)
  5. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (2012)

Keep reading to find out more about each one. I’ve listed them in order of when they were published.

Fifth Business (1970)

by Robertson Davies

  • Year Published: 1970
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, classics, historical, reflective, slow-paced
  • First installment of the Deptford Trilogy

Ramsay is a man twice born, a man who has returned from the hell of the battle-grave at Passchendaele in World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross and destined to be caught in a no man’s land where memory, history, and myth collide. As Ramsay tells his story, it begins to seem that from boyhood, he has exerted a perhaps mystical, perhaps pernicious, influence on those around him. His apparently innocent involvement in such innocuous events as the throwing of a snowball or the teaching of card tricks to a small boy in the end prove neither innocent nor innocuous. Fifth Business stands alone as a remarkable story told by a rational man who discovers that the marvelous is only another aspect of the real.

Links:

The Stone Diaries (1993)

by Carol Shields

  • Year Published: 1993
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, historical, literary, reflective, slow-paced
  • Won the 1993 Governor General’s Award for English language fiction in Canada and the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in the United States (Shields is an American-born Canadian, this is the only novel to ever win both awards)
  • Also received the National Book Critics Circle Award and was nominated for the Booker Prize

The Stone Diaries is one ordinary woman’s story of her journey through life. Born in 1905, Daisy Stone Goodwill drifts through the roles of child, wife, widow, and mother, and finally into her old age. Bewildered by her inability to understand her place in her own life, Daisy attempts to find a way to tell her story within a novel that is itself about the limitations of autobiography. Her life is vivid with incident, and yet she feels a sense of powerlessness. She listens, she observes, and through sheer force of imagination she becomes a witness of her own life: her birth, her death, and the troubling missed connections she discovers between. Daisy’s struggle to find a place for herself in her own life is a paradigm of the unsettled decades of our era. A witty and compassionate anatomist of the human heart, Carol Shields has made distinctively her own that place where the domestic collides with the elemental. With irony and humor she weaves the strands of The Stone Diaries together in this, her richest and most poignant novel to date.

Links:

Green Grass, Running Water (1993)

by Thomas King

  • Year Published: 1993
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, fantasy, magical realism, adventurous, funny, reflective, medium-paced
  • Finalist for the 1993 Governor General’s Award in Fiction

Strong, Sassy women and hard-luck hardheaded men, all searching for the middle ground between Native American tradition and the modern world, perform an elaborate dance of approach and avoidance in this magical, rollicking tale by Cherokee author Thomas King. Alberta is a university professor who would like to trade her two boyfriends for a baby but no husband; Lionel is forty and still sells televisions for a patronizing boss; Eli and his log cabin stand in the way of a profitable dam project. These three–and others–are coming to the Blackfoot reservation for the Sun Dance and there they will encounter four Indian elders and their companion, the trickster Coyote–and nothing in the small town of Blossom will be the same again…

Links:

Book of Longing (2006)

by Leonard Cohen

  • Year Published: 2006
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, music, poetry, emotional, reflective, slow-paced

A limited edition, one-time printing of Leonard Cohen’s best and most iconic book of poems

Book of Longing has exceptional range. It is clear yet steamy, cosmic yet private, both playful and profound.” —New York Times

Leonard Cohen wrote the poems in Book of Longing—his first book of poetry in more than twenty years after 1984’s Book of Mercy—during his five-year stay at a Zen monastery on Southern California’s Mount Baldy, and in Los Angeles, Montreal, and Mumbai. This dazzling collection is enhanced by the author’s playful and provocative drawings, which interact in exciting, unexpected ways on the page with poetry that is timeless, meditative, and often darkly humorous.

An international sensation, Book of Longing contains all the elements that have brought Cohen’s artistry with language worldwide recognition.

Links:

Indian Horse (2012)

by Richard Wagamese

  • Year Published: 2012
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, historical, challenging, emotional, sad, medium-paced
  • Won the 2013 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature
  • A film adaptation premiered at the 2017 TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival)

Saul Indian Horse has hit bottom. His last binge almost killed him, and now he’s a reluctant resident in a treatment centre for alcoholics, surrounded by people he’s sure will never understand him. But Saul wants peace, and he grudgingly comes to see that he’ll find it only through telling his story. With him, readers embark on a journey back through the life he’s led as a northern Ojibway, with all its joys and sorrows.

With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces through his fictional characters the decline of a culture and a cultural way. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he’s sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement. Indian Horse unfolds against the bleak loveliness of northern Ontario, all rock, marsh, bog and cedar. Wagamese writes with a spare beauty, penetrating the heart of a remarkable Ojibway man.

Links:

Final thoughts

I hope you found something of interest in this list of books.

I’m always looking for more suggestions of books to read. I’d love to know which books you love or that you would recommend. Let me know in a comment below!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.

Decidedly red hair

Excerpt from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Photo by Tobias Negele on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the book Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

She had been watching him ever since he had passed her and she had her eyes on him now. Matthew was not looking at her and would not have seen what she was really like if he had been, but an ordinary observer would have seen this: A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey. She wore a faded brown sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair. Her face was small, white and thin, also much freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, which looked green in some lights and moods and gray in others.

So far, the ordinary observer; an extraordinary observer might have seen that the chin was very pointed and pronounced; that the big eyes were full of spirit and vivacity; that the mouth was sweet-lipped and expressive; that the forehead was broad and full; in short, our discerning extraordinary observer might have concluded that no commonplace soul inhabited the body of this stray woman- child of whom shy Matthew Cuthbert was so ludicrously afraid.

Matthew, however, was spared the ordeal of speaking first, for as soon as she concluded that he was coming to her she stood up, grasping with one thin brown hand the handle of a shabby, old-fashioned carpet-bag; the other she held out to him.

“I suppose you are Mr. Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables?” she said in a peculiarly clear, sweet voice. “I’m very glad to see you. I was beginning to be afraid you weren’t coming for me and I was imagining all the things that might have happened to prevent you. I had made up my mind that if you didn’t come for me to-night I’d go down the track to that big wild cherry-tree at the bend, and climb up into it to stay all night. I wouldn’t be a bit afraid, and it would be lovely to sleep in a wild cherry-tree all white with bloom in the moonshine, don’t you think? You could imagine you were dwelling in marble halls, couldn’t you? And I was quite sure you would come for me in the morning, if you didn’t to-night.”

Matthew had taken the scrawny little hand awkwardly in his; then and there he decided what to do. He could not tell this child with the glowing eyes that there had been a mistake; he would take her home and let Marilla do that. She couldn’t be left at Bright River anyhow, no matter what mistake had been made, so all questions and explanations might as well be deferred until he was safely back at Green Gables.

“I’m sorry I was late,” he said shyly. “Come along. The horse is over in the yard. Give me your bag.”

“Oh, I can carry it,” the child responded cheerfully. “It isn’t heavy. I’ve got all my worldly goods in it, but it isn’t heavy. And if it isn’t carried in just a certain way the handle pulls out—so I’d better keep it because I know the exact knack of it. It’s an extremely old carpet-bag. Oh, I’m very glad you’ve come, even if it would have been nice to sleep in a wild cherry-tree. We’ve got to drive a long piece, haven’t we? Mrs. Spencer said it was eight miles. I’m glad because I love driving. Oh, it seems so wonderful that I’m going to live with you and belong to you. I’ve never belonged to anybody—not really. But the asylum was the worst. I’ve only been in it four months, but that was enough. I don’t suppose you ever were an orphan in an asylum, so you can’t possibly understand what it is like. It’s worse than anything you could imagine. Mrs. Spencer said it was wicked of me to talk like that, but I didn’t mean to be wicked. It’s so easy to be wicked without knowing it, isn’t it? They were good, you know—the asylum people. But there is so little scope for the imagination in an asylum—only just in the other orphans. It was pretty interesting to imagine things about them—to imagine that perhaps the girl who sat next to you was really the daughter of a belted earl, who had been stolen away from her parents in her infancy by a cruel nurse who died before she could confess. I used to lie awake at nights and imagine things like that, because I didn’t have time in the day. I guess that’s why I’m so thin—I AM dreadful thin, ain’t I? There isn’t a pick on my bones. I do love to imagine I’m nice and plump, with dimples in my elbows.”

With this Matthew’s companion stopped talking, partly because she was out of breath and partly because they had reached the buggy. Not another word did she say until they had left the village and were driving down a steep little hill, the road part of which had been cut so deeply into the soft soil, that the banks, fringed with blooming wild cherry-trees and slim white birches, were several feet above their heads.

The child put out her hand and broke off a branch of wild plum that brushed against the side of the buggy.

“Isn’t that beautiful? What did that tree, leaning out from the bank, all white and lacy, make you think of?” she asked.

“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew.

“Why, a bride, of course—a bride all in white with a lovely misty veil. I’ve never seen one, but I can imagine what she would look like. I don’t ever expect to be a bride myself. I’m so homely nobody will ever want to marry me— unless it might be a foreign missionary. I suppose a foreign missionary mightn’t be very particular. But I do hope that some day I shall have a white dress. That is my highest ideal of earthly bliss. I just love pretty clothes. And I’ve never had a pretty dress in my life that I can remember—but of course it’s all the more to look forward to, isn’t it? And then I can imagine that I’m dressed gorgeously. This morning when I left the asylum I felt so ashamed because I had to wear this horrid old wincey dress. All the orphans had to wear them, you know. A merchant in Hopeton last winter donated three hundred yards of wincey to the asylum. Some people said it was because he couldn’t sell it, but I’d rather believe that it was out of the kindness of his heart, wouldn’t you? When we got on the train I felt as if everybody must be looking at me and pitying me. But I just went to work and imagined that I had on the most beautiful pale blue silk dress—because when you ARE imagining you might as well imagine something worth while—and a big hat all flowers and nodding plumes, and a gold watch, and kid gloves and boots. I felt cheered up right away and I enjoyed my trip to the Island with all my might. I wasn’t a bit sick coming over in the boat. Neither was Mrs. Spencer although she generally is. She said she hadn’t time to get sick, watching to see that I didn’t fall overboard. She said she never saw the beat of me for prowling about. But if it kept her from being seasick it’s a mercy I did prowl, isn’t it? And I wanted to see everything that was to be seen on that boat, because I didn’t know whether I’d ever have another opportunity. Oh, there are a lot more cherry-trees all in bloom! This Island is the bloomiest place. I just love it already, and I’m so glad I’m going to live here. I’ve always heard that Prince Edward Island was the prettiest place in the world, and I used to imagine I was living here, but I never really expected I would. It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it? But those red roads are so funny. When we got into the train at Charlottetown and the red roads began to flash past I asked Mrs. Spencer what made them red and she said she didn’t know and for pity’s sake not to ask her any more questions. She said I must have asked her a thousand already. I suppose I had, too, but how you going to find out about things if you don’t ask questions? And what DOES make the roads red?”

“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew.

“Well, that is one of the things to find out sometime. Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive— it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there? But am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.”

Matthew, much to his own surprise, was enjoying himself. Like most quiet folks he liked talkative people when they were willing to do the talking themselves and did not expect him to keep up his end of it. But he had never expected to enjoy the society of a little girl. Women were bad enough in all conscience, but little girls were worse. He detested the way they had of sidling past him timidly, with sidewise glances, as if they expected him to gobble them up at a mouthful if they ventured to say a word. That was the Avonlea type of well-bred little girl. But this freckled witch was very different, and although he found it rather difficult for his slower intelligence to keep up with her brisk mental processes he thought that he “kind of liked her chatter.” So he said as shyly as usual:

“Oh, you can talk as much as you like. I don’t mind.”

“Oh, I’m so glad. I know you and I are going to get along together fine. It’s such a relief to talk when one wants to and not be told that children should be seen and not heard. I’ve had that said to me a million times if I have once. And people laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?”

“Well now, that seems reasonable,” said Matthew.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

Anne of Green Gables – Summary

This heartwarming story has beckoned generations of readers into the special world of Green Gables, an old-fashioned farm outside a town called Avonlea. Anne Shirley, an eleven-year-old orphan, has arrived in this verdant corner of Prince Edward Island only to discover that the Cuthberts—elderly Matthew and his stern sister, Marilla—want to adopt a boy, not a feisty redheaded girl. But before they can send her back, Anne—who simply must have more scope for her imagination and a real home—wins them over completely. A much-loved classic that explores all the vulnerability, expectations, and dreams of a child growing up, Anne of Green Gables is also a wonderful portrait of a time, a place, a family… and, most of all, love.

Copyright © 1908 by L.M. Montgomery.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

You can read it for free here on Project Gutenberg.

Erased by fire

This is a quote from the poetry book The Journals of Susanna Moodie by Margaret Atwood.

Quote by Margaret Atwood, “I, who had been erased by fire, was crept in upon by green.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read a few of the poems from the book here.

The Journals of Susanna Moodie – Summary

Margaret Atwood’s The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970), regarded by many as her most fully realized volume of poetry, is one of the great Canadian and feminist epics. In 1980, Margaret Atwood’s longtime friend, the distinguished Canadian artist Charles Pachter, illustrated, designed, and published a handmade boxed portfolio edition of 120 copies of the poem with silkscreen prints, created as an act of homage to the poet. Atwood herself has said of Pachter’s work, His is a sophisticated art which draws upon many techniques and evokes many echoes. The poem and the prints inspire one another. This is the first facsimile edition of the original, as well as the first one-volume American edition of the poem, with an introduction by Charles Pachter and a foreword by David Staines.

Copyright © 1970 by Margaret Atwood.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

Five nonfiction books about Canada

It’s July! When I think of July, I think of two things, Canada Day (because I’m Canadian) and Disability Pride Month.

For this month, I’ll be sharing a book lists both about Canada and about Disability Justice.


July 1st is Canada Day. It celebrates the passing of the British North America Act, which unified the United Canadas, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick as a single dominion within the British Empire. Canada didn’t become fully independent from the British Empire until 1982!

In late June of 2021, unmarked graves of Indigenous children were found at a residential school in BC. This sparked outrage across the country and led to many Canada Day celebrations to be canceled or changed into gatherings of remembrance/protests.

These unmarked graves were a reminder of how much still needs to be done for reconciliation and how recent this history really is. The last residential school was shut down in 1996 (Gordon Reserve Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan). That’s within my lifetime!

In recent years, it’s become more common to use July 1st as a time to protest or organize peaceful rallies.

Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

Learning about Canada

No matter how you choose to spend July 1st, I think Canada Day is a great day to learn more about Canada.

It’s important to understand how this country was formed, what influenced the creation of all our systems, and most of all, what we’ve done wrong as a country, to ensure that we have changed and continue to change for the better.

Our history informs our present. The past has lead to the present, and continues to influence it.

There are many laws formed long ago that still play a role in our governance. For instance, the Indian Act (from 1876!) is still active and plays a vital role in the federal government’s relationship with Indigenous nations. I should note, it has been amended over the years, but that doesn’t mean all the issues have been fixed.

Like most things in life, context is key. History is just the context for where we are at now, which is why it’s important to better understand how we got to this point.

The nonfiction books about Canada below showcase a range of information about Canada, starting with a personal memoir of a settler, along with a handful of nonfiction from Indigenous authors and perspectives.

Indigenous voices have often been ignored and silenced throughout Canadian history, so it’s even more vital to listen to their voices now.

Five nonfiction books about Canada

Here’s a list of five nonfiction books about Canada.

  1. Roughing It in the Bush by Susanna Moodie (1852)
  2. The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King (2012)
  3. Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga (2017)
  4. 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality by Bob Joseph (2018)
  5. Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada by Harold R. Johnson (2019)

Keep reading to find out more about each one. I’ve listed them in order of when they were published.

Roughing It in the Bush (1852)

by Susanna Moodie

  • Year Published: 1852
  • Storygraph Categories:
    nonfiction, history, memoir, challenging, emotional, informative, slow-paced
  • A canonical work of Canadian literature, with historic and cultural value, as well as literary merit

Roughing It in the Bush, first published in 1852, helped to destroy British illusions about life in Upper Canada. Susanna Moodie described a life of backbreaking labour, poverty, and hardship on a pioneer farm in the colonial wilderness. Her sharp observations, satirical character sketches, and moments of despair and terror were a startling contrast to the widely circulated optimistic accounts of life in British North America, written to entice readers across the Atlantic.

The spontaneity, wit, and candour of Moodie’s account of life on a backwoods farm give Roughing It in the Bush enduring appeal.

Links:

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (2012)

by Thomas King

  • Year Published: 2012
  • Storygraph Categories:
    nonfiction, history, challenging, informative, reflective, slow-paced
  • Won the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize and was a finalist for the 2013 Trillium Book Award and the 2014 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature
  • Adapted into a documentary titled Inconvenient Indian

The Inconvenient Indian is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history—in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America.

Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, this book distills the insights gleaned from that meditation, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.

This is a book both timeless and timely, burnished with anger but tempered by wit, and ultimately a hard-won offering of hope—a sometimes inconvenient, but nonetheless indispensable account for all of us, Indian and non-Indian alike, seeking to understand how we might tell a new story for the future.

Links:

Seven Fallen Feathers**: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City (2017)

by Tanya Talaga

  • Year Published: 2017
  • Storygraph Categories:
    nonfiction, history, politics, challenging, informative, sad, medium-paced
  • Won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing in 2017, the RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction and PMC Indigenous Literature Awards in 2018

In 1966, twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. An inquest was called and four recommendations were made to prevent another tragedy. None of those recommendations were applied.

More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home and live in a foreign and unwelcoming city. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred Indigenous site. Jordan Wabasse, a gentle boy and star hockey player, disappeared into the minus twenty degrees Celsius night. The body of celebrated artist Norval Morrisseau’s grandson, Kyle, was pulled from a river, as was Curran Strang’s. Robyn Harper died in her boarding-house hallway and Paul Panacheese inexplicably collapsed on his kitchen floor. Reggie Bushie’s death finally prompted an inquest, seven years after the discovery of Jethro Anderson, the first boy whose body was found in the water.

Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, award-winning investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities.

Links:

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (2018)

by Bob Joseph

  • Year Published: 2018
  • Storygraph Categories:
    nonfiction, history, politics, race, challenging, informative, reflective, slow-paced
  • Winner of the 2019 Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award

Based on a viral article (on CBC), 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act is the essential guide to understanding the legal document and its repercussion on generations of Indigenous Peoples, written by a leading cultural sensitivity trainer.

Since its creation in 1876, the Indian Act has shaped, controlled, and constrained the lives and opportunities of Indigenous Peoples, and is at the root of many enduring stereotypes. Bob Joseph’s book comes at a key time in the reconciliation process, when awareness from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities is at a crescendo. Joseph explains how Indigenous Peoples can step out from under the Indian Act and return to self-government, self-determination, and self-reliance—and why doing so would result in a better country for every Canadian. He dissects the complex issues around truth and reconciliation, and clearly demonstrates why learning about the Indian Act’s cruel, enduring legacy is essential for the country to move toward true reconciliation.

Links:

Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada (2019)

by Harold R. Johnson

  • Year Published: 2019
  • Storygraph Categories:
    nonfiction, history, memoir, politics, emotional, informative, reflective, slow-paced

An urgent, informed, intimate condemnation of the Canadian state and its failure to deliver justice to Indigenous people by national bestselling author and former Crown prosecutor Harold R. Johnson.

In early 2018, the failures of Canada’s justice system were sharply and painfully revealed in the verdicts issued in the deaths of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine. The outrage and confusion that followed those verdicts inspired former Crown prosecutor and bestselling author Harold R. Johnson to make the case against Canada for its failure to fulfill its duty under Treaty to effectively deliver justice to Indigenous people, worsening the situation and ensuring long-term damage to Indigenous communities.

In this direct, concise, and essential volume, Harold R. Johnson examines the justice system’s failures to deliver “peace and good order” to Indigenous people. He explores the part that he understands himself to have played in that mismanagement, drawing on insights he has gained from the experience; insights into the roots and immediate effects of how the justice system has failed Indigenous people, in all the communities in which they live; and insights into the struggle for peace and good order for Indigenous people now.

Links:

Final thoughts

I hope you found something of interest in this list of books.

I’m always looking for more suggestions of books to read. I’d love to know which books you love or that you would recommend. Let me know in a comment below!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.

I, who had been erased by fire

Excerpt from The Journals of Susanna Moodie by Margaret Atwood

Photo by Jay Patel on Unsplash

These are three poems from the poetry book The Journals of Susanna Moodie by Margaret Atwood.

First Neighbours

The people I live among, unforgivingly
previous to me, grudging
the way I breathe their
property, the air,
speaking a twisted dialect to my differently-
shaped ears

though I tried to adapt

(the girl in a red tattered
petticoat, who jeered at me for my burned bread

Go back where you came from

I tightened my lips; knew that England
was now unreachable, had sunk down into the sea
without ever teaching me about washtubs)

got used to being
a minor invalid, expected to make
inept remarks,
futile and spastic gestures

(asked the Indian
about the squat thing on a stick
drying by the fire: Is that a toad?
Annoyed, he said No no,
deer liver, very good)

Finally I grew a chapped tarpaulin
skin; I negotiated the drizzle
of strange meaning, set it
down to just the latitude:
something to be endured
but not surprised by.

Inaccurate. the forest can still trick me:
one afternoon while I was drawing
birds, a malignant face
flickered over my shoulder:
the branches quivered.

Resolve: to be both tentative and hard to startle
(though clumsiness and
fright are inevitable)

in this area where my damaged
knowing of the language means
prediction is forever impossible

Departure from the bush

I, who had been erased
by fire, was crept in
upon by green
(how
lucid a season)

In time the animals
arrived to inhabit me,

first one
by one, stealthily
(their habitual traces
burnt); then
having marked new boundaries
returning, more
confident, year
by year, two
by two

But restless: I was not ready
altogether to be moved into

They could tell I was
too heavy: I might
capsize;

I was frightened
by their eyes (green or
amber)glowing out from inside me

I was not completed; at night
I could not see without lanterns.

He wrote, We are leaving. I said
I have no clothes
left I can wear

The snow came. the sleigh was a relief;
its track lengthened behind,
pushing me towards the city

and rounding the first hill, I was
(instantaneous)
unlived in: they had gone.

there was something they almost taught me
I came away not having learned.

Thoughts from underground

When I first reached this country
I hated it
and I hated it more each year:

in summer the light a
violent blur, the heat
thick as a swamp,
the green things fiercely
shoving themselves upwards, the
eyelids bitten by insects

In winter our teeth were brittle
with cold. We fed on squirrels.
At night the house cracked.
In the mornings, we thawed
the bad bread over the stove.

Then we were made successful
and I felt I ought to love
this country.

I said I loved it
and my mind saw double.

I began to forget myself
in the middle
of sentences. Events
were split apart

I fought. I constructed
desperate paragraphs of praise, everyone
ought to love it because

and set them up at intervals

due to natural resources, native industry, superior
penitentiaries
we will all be rich and powerful

flat as highway billboards

who can doubt it, look how
fast Belleville is growing

(though it is still no place for an english gentleman)

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

The Journals of Susanna Moodie – Summary

Margaret Atwood’s The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970), regarded by many as her most fully realized volume of poetry, is one of the great Canadian and feminist epics. In 1980, Margaret Atwood’s longtime friend, the distinguished Canadian artist Charles Pachter, illustrated, designed, and published a handmade boxed portfolio edition of 120 copies of the poem with silkscreen prints, created as an act of homage to the poet. Atwood herself has said of Pachter’s work, His is a sophisticated art which draws upon many techniques and evokes many echoes. The poem and the prints inspire one another. This is the first facsimile edition of the original, as well as the first one-volume American edition of the poem, with an introduction by Charles Pachter and a foreword by David Staines.

Copyright © 1970 by Margaret Atwood.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

I look up at that tree and I think I am at home.

Excerpt from Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro

Photo by Geoff Bryant on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the collection of short stories called Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro.

My mother has headaches. She often has to lie down. She lies on my brother’s narrow bed in the little screened porch, shaded by heavy branches. “I look up at that tree and I think I am at home,” she says.

“What you need,” my father tells her, “ is some fresh air and a drive in the country.” He means for her to go with him, on his Walker Brothers route.

That is not my mother’s idea of a drive in the country.

“Can I come?”

“Your mother might want you for trying on clothes.”

“I’m beyond sewing this afternoon,” my mother says.

“I’ll take her then. Take both of them, give you a rest”

What is there about us that people need to be given a rest from? Never mind. I am glad enough to find my brother and make him go to the toilet and get us both into the car, our knees unscrubbed, my hair unringleted. My father brings from the house his two heavy brown suitcases, full of bottles, and sets them on the back seat. he wears a white shirt, brilliant in the sunlight, a tie, light trousers belonging to his summer suit (his other suit is black, for funerals, and belonged to my uncle before he died) and a creamy straw hat. His salesman’s outfit, with pencils clipped in the shirt pocket. He goes back once again, probably to say goodbye to my mother, to ask her if she is sure she doesn’t want to come, and hear her say, “No. No thanks, I’m better just to lie here with my eyes closed.” Then we are backing out of the driveway with the rising hope of adventure, just the little hope that takes you over the bump into the street, the hot air starting to move, turning into a breeze, the houses growing less and less familiar as we follow the short cut my father knows, the quick way out of town. Yet what is there waiting for us all afternoon but hot hours in stricken farmyards, perhaps a stop at a country store and three ice cream cones or bottles of pop, and my father singing? The one he made up about himself has a title—”The Walker Brothers Cowboy”—and it starts out like this:

Old Ned Fields, he now is dead,
So I am ridin’ the route instead…

Who is Ned Fields? The man he replaced, surely, and if so he really is dead; yet my father’s voice is mournful-jolly, making his death some kind of nonsense, a comic calamity. “Wisht I was back on the Rio Grande, plungin’ through the dusky sand.” My father sings most of the time while driving the car. Even now, heading out of town, crossing the bridge and taking the sharp turn onto the highway, he is humming something mumbling a bit of a song to himself, just tuning up, really, getting ready to improvise, for out along the highway we pass the Baptist Camp, the Vacation Bible Camp, and he lets loose:

Where are the Baptists, where are the Baptists
where are all the Baptists today?
They’re down in the water, in Lake Huron water,
with their sins all a-gittin’ washed away.

My brother takes this for straight truth and gets up on his knees trying to see down to the Lake. “I don’t see any Baptists,” he says accusingly. “Neither do I, son,” says my father. “I told you, they’re down in the Lake.”

Have you read any stories by Alice Munro? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

Dance of the Happy Shades – Summary

Here is the book summary:

Alice Munro’s territory is the farms and semi-rural towns of south-western Ontario. In these dazzling stories she deals with the self-discovery of adolescence, the joys and pains of love and the despair and guilt of those caught in a narrow existence. And in sensitively exploring the lives of ordinary men and women, she makes us aware of the universal nature of their fears, sorrows and aspirations.

Copyright © 1968 by Alice Munro.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

We might expect fairness

Excerpt from Peace and Good Order by Harold R. Johnson

This is an excerpt from the book Peace and Good Order by Harold R. Johnson.

In Canada there is a widely held expectation that the law will be fair. Indigenous Peoples expect that when a white man kills an Indigenous person, he will be treated with the same sternness that has been applied to us. Law is fundamental to the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and settlers. But while we might expect fairness, our experience has been otherwise.

Everything that has been done to Indigenous Peoples has been legal. Law was used to deny us access to the natural resources within the territories we share with settlers. Law has been used to confine us to tiny plots that are economically unsustainable. Under the pass system, introduced by law in 1885 and not repealed until 1951, Indians needed the permission of the Indian agent to leave our reserves to visit neighbouring relatives or to go hunting or fishing or gathering, and the Indian agent relied upon the police to enforce his decisions to deny permission. Law gave huge tracts of our territory to foreign corporations to exploit the natural resources, depriving us of sacred sites, food sources, medicines and income. We were arrested if we entered into territory where our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had lived, hunted, fished, trapped and gathered. When the Prince Albert National Park was created in 1927, it was the RCMP who came to tell my mother’s family that the territory where they lived and found sustenance had become a park and they had to leave their houses and their gardens and the trails and the land and animals they were familiar with and move somewhere else.

Canadian law determined who we were. Under the terms of the Indian Act, if a First Nations woman married a non–First Nations man, she lost her status as an Indian. She and her children lost their right to hunt, fish and gather. If they were caught hunting or fishing, they frequently were arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced to jail—for the crime of feeding their families. I can remember when I was young and my mother’s brother Ben was arrested and sent to jail for hunting. Not only did his immediate family suffer; the entire community suffered because Ben was an exceptional hunter who provided meat to a lot more people than just his wife and children. I was born in a small northern community of trappers and fishers to a Cree mother and a Forest-Finn Swede father. It was not until 2011 that the Indian Act was changed and Canadian law recognized me as an Indian.

Indigenous Peoples were not only the subject of laws that encircled and diminished us. We were also denied the ability to resist those laws. Any other Canadian citizen who was the subject of an unjust law could challenge that law in court. We could not. From 1927 until 1951, it was against the law for Indigenous people or communities to hire a lawyer, without the government’s consent, to bring claims against the government to restore lands or rights taken away by that government.

Law has been used to compel us to surrender our children to residential schools, where horrors were inflicted upon them in an attempt to eradicate our culture and language. The police were instrumental in rounding up our children. (My mother attended a residential school for one year, in about 1930, and several of my cousins were sent in the 1970s and ’80s. My siblings and I were spared that horror.)

Law was used again in the 1960s, when social workers, accompanied by police officers, removed Indigenous children from their homes on the pretext that they were not being cared for properly. After my father died, my mother was told that if she continued to take me and my siblings out of school to go to the trapline with her, the government would take her children away. In 1967, if you told an Indigenous woman with one year of schooling and six children at home that you were going to take her children away from her, she would do anything she was told. My mother surrendered her independence. She moved us to a larger community, where she was forced to go on welfare.

And law has been used to fill the jails with Indigenous men, women and children at rates that continue to rise. Not only are Indigenous people more likely to be sentenced to prison, but they are also subject to some of the restrictive types of punishment, including segregation, high-security classifications and involuntary transfers.

To say that law and justice have failed Indigenous Peoples in Canada is a vast understatement. Law and justice appear to be the tools employed to continue the forced subjugation of an entire population.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

Peace and Good Order – Summary

Here is the book summary:

An urgent, informed, intimate condemnation of the Canadian state and its failure to deliver justice to Indigenous people by national bestselling author and former Crown prosecutor Harold R. Johnson.

In early 2018, the failures of Canada’s justice system were sharply and painfully revealed in the verdicts issued in the deaths of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine. The outrage and confusion that followed those verdicts inspired former Crown prosecutor and bestselling author Harold R. Johnson to make the case against Canada for its failure to fulfill its duty under Treaty to effectively deliver justice to Indigenous people, worsening the situation and ensuring long-term damage to Indigenous communities.

In this direct, concise, and essential volume, Harold R. Johnson examines the justice system’s failures to deliver “peace and good order” to Indigenous people. He explores the part that he understands himself to have played in that mismanagement, drawing on insights he has gained from the experience; insights into the roots and immediate effects of how the justice system has failed Indigenous people, in all the communities in which they live; and insights into the struggle for peace and good order for Indigenous people now.

Copyright © 2019 by Harold R. Johnson.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

History is the stories we tell

This is a quote from the book The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King.

Quote by Thomas King, “Most of us think that history is the past. It’s not. History is the stories we tell about the past. That’s all it is. Stories. Such a definition might make the enterprise of history seem neutral. Benign.
Which, of course, it isn’t.”

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

If you’re interested, you can read an excerpt from the book here.

The Inconvenient Indian – Summary

The Inconvenient Indian is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history—in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America.

Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, this book distills the insights gleaned from that meditation, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.

This is a book both timeless and timely, burnished with anger but tempered by wit, and ultimately a hard-won offering of hope—a sometimes inconvenient, but nonetheless indispensable account for all of us, Indian and non-Indian alike, seeking to understand how we might tell a new story for the future.

Copyright © 2012 by Thomas King.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

Forget Columbus

Excerpt from The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Photo by Abigail Loney on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the book The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King.

Most of us think that history is the past. It’s not. History is the stories we tell about the past. That’s all it is. Stories. Such a definition might make the enterprise of history seem neutral. Benign.

Which, of course, it itsn’t.

History may well be a series of stories we tell about the past, but the stories are not just any stories. They’re not chosen by chance. By and large, the stories are about famous men and celebrated events. We throw in a couple of exceptional women every now and then, not our of any need to recognize female eminence, but out of embarrassment.

And we’re not easily embarrassed.

When we imagine history, we imagine a grand structure, a national chronicle, a closely organized and guarded record of agreed-upon events and interpretations, a bundle of “authenticities” and “truths” welded into a flexible, yet conservative narrative that explains how we got from there to here. It is a relationship we have with ourselves, a love affair we celebrate with flags and anthems, festivals and guns.

Well, the “guns” remark was probably uncalled for and might suggest and animus towards history. But that’s not true. I simply have difficulty with how we choose which stories become the pulse of history and which do not.

In 1492, Columbu sailed the ocean blue.

On second thought, let’s not start with Columbus. Helen was right. Let’s forget Columbus. You know, now that I say it out loud, I even like the sound of it. Forget Columbus.

Give it a try. Forget Columbus.

Instead, let’s start our history, our account, in Almo, Idaho. I’ve never been there and I suspect that most of you haven’t either. I can tell you with certainty that Christopher Columbus didn’t discover the town. Nor did Jacques Cartier or Samuel de Champlain or David Thompson or Hernando Cortes. Sacajawea, with Lewis and Clarke in two, might have passed through the general area, but since Almo didn’t exist in the early 1800s, they couldn’t have stopped there. Even if they had wanted to.

Almo is a small, unincorporated town of about 200 tucked into south central Cassia County in southern Idaho. So far as I know, it isn’t famous for much of anything except and Indian massacre.

A plaque in the town reads, “Dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in a most horrible Indian massacre, 1861. Three hundred immigrants west bound. Only five escaped. Erected by the S&D of Idaho Pioneers, 1938.”

Two hundred and ninety-five killed. Now that’s a massacre. Indians generally didn’t kill that many Whites at one time. Sure, during the 1813 For Mims massacre, in what is now Alabama. Creek Red Sticks killed about four hundred Whites, but that’s the largest massacre committed by Indians that I can find. The Lachine massacre on Montreal Island in Quebec in 1689killed around ninety, while the death toll in nearby La Chesnaye was forty-two. In 1832, eighteen were killed at Indian Creek near Ottawa, Illinois, while the 1854 Ward massacre along the Oregon Trail in western Idaho had a death toll of nineteen. The 1860 Utter massacre at Henderson Flat near the Snake River in Idaho killed twenty-five. The 1879 Meeker massacre in western Colorado killed eleven. The fort parker massacre in Texas in 1836 killed six.

It’s true in 1835, just south of present-day Bushnell, Florida, Indians killed 108, but since all of the casualties were armed soldiers who were looking for trouble and not unarmed civilians who were trying to avoid it, I don’t count this one as a massacre.

By the way, these aren’t my figures. I borrowed them from William M. Osborn who wrote a book, The Wild Frontier, in which he attempted to document every massacre that occurred in North America. The figures are not dead accurate, of course. They’re approximations based on the historical information that was available to Osborn. Still, it’s nice that someone spent the time and effort to compile such a list, so I can use it without doing any of the work.

I should point out that Indians didn’t do all the massacring. To give credit where credit is due, Whites massacred Indians at a pretty good clip. In 1598, in what is now New Mexico, Juan de Onate and his troops killed over eight hundred Acoma and cut off the left foot of every man over the age of twenty-five. In 163y, John Underhill led a force that killed six to seven hundred Pequot near the Mystic River in Connecticut. In 1871, around one hundred and forty Pinal and Aravaipa Apaches were killed in the Camp Gran t massacre in Arizona Territory. Two hundred and fifty Northwestern Shoshoni were killed in the 1863 Bear River massacre in what is now Idaho, while General Henry Atkinson killed some one hundred and fifty Sauk and Fox at the mouth of the Bad Axe River in Wisconsin in 1832. And, of course, there’s always the famous 1864 Sand Creek massacre in Colorado, where two hundred peaceful Cheyenne were slaughtered by vigilantes looking to shoot anything that moved, and the even more infamous Wounded Knee in 1890, where over two hundred Lakota lost their lives.

Of course, body counts alone don’t even begin to tell the stories of these slaughters, but what the figures do suggest—if you take them at face value—is that Whites were considerably more successful at massacres than Indians. So, the 1861 Almo massacre by the Shoshone-Bannock should stand out in the annals of Indian bad behaviour. After the massacre at Fort Mims, Almo would rank at the second-largest massacre of Whites by Indians.

Three hundred people in the wagon train. Two hundred and ninety-five killed. Only five survivors. It’s a great story. The only problem is, it never happened.

You might assume that something must have happened in Almo, maybe a smaller massacre or a fatal altercation of some sort that was exaggerated and blown out of proportion.

Nope.

The story is simply a tale someone made up and told to someone else, and before you knew it, the Almo massacre was historical fact.

The best summary and critical analysis of the Almo massacre is Brigham Madsen’s 1993 article in Idaho Yesterdays, “The Almo Massacre Revisited.” Madsen was a historian at the University of Utah when I was a graduate student there. He was a smart, witty, gracious man, who once told me that historians are not often appreciated because their research tends to destroy myths. I knew the man, and I liked him. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I have a bias towards his work.

Bias or no, Madsen’s research into Almo settles the question. No massacre. As Madsen points out in his article, attacks by Indians did not go unmarked. The newspapers of the time—the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, the Sacramento Daily Union, the San Francisco Examiner—paid close attention to Indian activity along the Oregon and California trails, yet none of the papers had any mention of Almo. Such an event would certainly have come to the attention of Indian Service agents and the military, but again Madsen was unable to find any reference to the massacre either in the National Archives or in the records that the Bureau of Indian Affairs kept for the various states and territories. Nor does the Almo massacre appear in any of the early histories of Idaho.

You would expect that the rescue party from Brigham who supposedly came upon the carnage and buried the bodies of the slain settlers—or the alleged five survivors who escaped death—would have brought the massacre to the attention of the authorities. Okay, one of the survivors was a baby, but that still left a chorus of voices to sound the alarm.

And yet there is nothing.

In fact there is no mention of the matter at all until some sixty-six years after the fact, when the story first appeared in Charles S. Walgamott’s 1926 book Reminiscences of Early Days: A Series of Historical Sketches and Happenings in the Early Days of Snake River Valley. Walgamott claims to have gotten the story from a W.M.E. Johnston, and it’s a gruesome story to be sure, a Jacobean melodrama complete with “bloodthirsty Indians” and a brave White woman who crawls to safety carrying her nursing child by its clothing in her teeth.

A right proper Western.

That the plaque in Almo was erected in 1938 as part of “Exploration Day,” an event that was designed to celebrate Idaho history and promote tourism to the area, is probably just a coincidence. In any case, the fact that the story is a fraud didn’t bother the Sons and Daughters of Idaho Pioneers who paid for the plaque, and it doesn’t bother them now. Even after the massacre was discredited, the town was reluctant to remove the marker, defending the lie as part of the culture and history of the area. Which, of course, it now is.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

The Inconvenient Indian – Summary

The Inconvenient Indian is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history—in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America.

Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, this book distills the insights gleaned from that meditation, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.

This is a book both timeless and timely, burnished with anger but tempered by wit, and ultimately a hard-won offering of hope—a sometimes inconvenient, but nonetheless indispensable account for all of us, Indian and non-Indian alike, seeking to understand how we might tell a new story for the future.

Copyright © 2012 by Thomas King.

You can find more details here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

Five modern classics from Canadian authors

Happy (belated) Canada Day! Canada Day is on July 1st, and so for the month of July I’ll be sharing Canadian related content. I’m keen to share books by Canadian and Indigenous authors. I’m also interested in sharing information about the history of our country. I think it’s important to understand our past to continue growing and improving as a nation.


Have you ever wanted to visit Canada? Here’s your chance to visit Canada through reading!

In this list, I’m sharing five modern classics from Canadian authors. I know in Canada we are pretty good at highlighting our home grown talent. But I find outside of Canada, we don’t get that much recognition.

So I want to highlight some of our modern classics to compliment the other famous classics you may hear about. Plus these classics span across our nation, so you’ll get a few different glimpses of life in Canada.

Five modern classics from Canada

Here’s a list of five modern classics with authors from Canada.

  1. Anne of Green Gables By Lucy Maud Montgomery (1908)
  2. Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell (1947)
  3. The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat (1957)
  4. Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro (1968)
  5. The Fire-Dwellers by Margaret Laurence (1969)

Keep reading to find out more about each one.

Photo by Ric Matkowski on Unsplash

Anne of Green Gables (1908)

by Lucy Maud Montgomery

  • Year Published: 1908
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, classics, middle grade, funny, hopeful, lighthearted, medium-paced
  • Considered a children’s classic novel, has been a huge source of tourism for the small province of Prince Edward Island in Canada

This heartwarming story has beckoned generations of readers into the special world of Green Gables, an old-fashioned farm outside a town called Avonlea. Anne Shirley, an eleven-year-old orphan, has arrived in this verdant corner of Prince Edward Island only to discover that the Cuthberts—elderly Matthew and his stern sister, Marilla—want to adopt a boy, not a feisty redheaded girl. But before they can send her back, Anne—who simply must have more scope for her imagination and a real home—wins them over completely. A much-loved classic that explores all the vulnerability, expectations, and dreams of a child growing up, Anne of Green Gables is also a wonderful portrait of a time, a place, a family… and, most of all, love.

Links:

Who Has Seen the Wind (1947)

by W.O. Mitchell

  • Year Published: 1947
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, classics, emotional, reflective, slow-paced
  • Considered a Canadian classic, showcasing small town life on the Saskatchewan prairies

Hailed as a great Canadian classic on boyhood, Who Has Seen the Wind evokes the sheer immensity of the prairie landscape, from the relentless wind to the far reaches of the bright blue sky. Like children everywhere, Brian O’Connal is a curious sort, and with enchanting naïveté he bestows his unforgettable perspective on everything from gophers to God, from his feisty Irish grandmother to his friends Ben and Saint Sammy, the town of Arcola’s local madman. This is no simple, forgettable novel: Mitchell gives readers a memorable glimpse into the ins and outs of small-town life during the Depression years, always through Brian’s eyes, and in doing so creates a poignant and powerful portrait of childhood innocence and its loss.

Links:

The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be (1957)

by Farley Mowat

  • Year Published: 1957
  • Storygraph Categories:
    nonfiction, memoir, adventurous, funny, reflective, fast-paced

Farely Mowat’s best-loved book tells the splendidly entertaining story of his boyhood on the Canadian prairies. Mutt’s pedigree was uncertain, but his madness was indisputable. He climbed tress and ladders, rode passenger in an open car wearing goggles and displaying hunting skills that bordered on sheer genius. He was a marvelous dog, worthy of an unusual boy growing up in a raw, untamed wilderness.

Links:

Dance of the Happy Shades (1968)

by Alice Munro

  • Year Published: 1968
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, short stories, dark, reflective, medium-paced
  • Munro’s first collection of stories and won the 1968 Governor General’s Award for English Fiction

Alice Munro’s territory is the farms and semi-rural towns of south-western Ontario. In these dazzling stories she deals with the self-discovery of adolescence, the joys and pains of love and the despair and guilt of those caught in a narrow existence. And in sensitively exploring the lives of ordinary men and women, she makes us aware of the universal nature of their fears, sorrows and aspirations.

Links:

The Fire-Dwellers (1969)

by Margaret Laurence

  • Year Published: 1969
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, classics, emotional, reflective, slow-paced
  • Margaret Laurence is considered a major figure in Canadian literature

Convinced that life has more to offer than the tedious routine of her days, Stacey MacAindra yearns to recover some of the passion of her early romance. In this extraordinary novel, Margaret Laurence has given us yet another unforgettable heroine: smart, witty, but overwhelmed by the responsibilities of raising four children and trying to love her overworked husband.

The Fire Dwellers helps us to rediscover all the richness of the commonplace, as well as the pain, beauty–and humor–of being alive. Stacey’s state of mind is revealed in a swift-flowing stream of dialogue, reaction, reproach, and nostalgia. . . . Laurence] is the best fiction writer in the Dominion and one of the best in the hemisphere.–Atlantic

Links:

Final thoughts

I hope you found something of interest in this list of books written by Canadian authors.

I’m always looking for more suggestions of books to read. If you have a favourite book written by a Canadian author, please feel free to share it in a comment below!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of the book?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.