Well folks, it’s that time of the year again…. Canada Day is just a day away! And what better way is there to honour our amazing country then by curling up with a great Canadian author (in between the BBQs and fireworks of course)! From Margaret Atwood to Sara Gruen and Michael Ondaatje to Susanna Kearsley, Canada is filled with talented authors from sea to shining sea! In fact, picking just 10 books that were “Made in Canada” ended up being quite the challenge for me!
To help me narrow down my list, I decided to focus exclusively on books that are set in Canada, and attempt to cover as many provinces and territories as I could. Of course, I still took quality and enjoyment into consideration, so I wasn’t able to cover all 10 provinces or 3 territories, and there are more books set in Ontario then anywhere else, but I still think that I did pretty good! So, without further ado, here are some of my favourite Canadian books set in Canada to curl up with this Canada Day!
1. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden (Ontario)
Taking place in the Georgian Bay area, The Orenda tells the moving story of three characters: a Jesuit priest, a Huron warrior and a young kidnapped Iroquois girl. When the lives of these three strangers intersect during a fateful winter’s day, the world as they know it will never be the same again. The Orenda is the perfect cottage read. As you sit on your deck by the water, you’ll be able to picture the the characters canoeing past you through time.
2. The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis (Ontario)
For those of you in the mood for a more humorous read, look no further then Terry Fallis! The Best Laid Plans focuses on Daniel Addison, an ex-speechwriter who is determined to leave Parliament Hill behind him. Just when he thinks he’s made his escape, however, he’s roped into finding a Liberal candidate for a campaign that is doomed to fail. The result is a quirky and hilarious look at Canadian politics that had me laughing out loud the whole way through (and that’s coming from someone who HATES Canadian politics).
3. The Girls by Lori Lansen (Ontario)
If you want a book with interesting characters, look no further then The Girls by Lori Lansen! I read this book over 5 years ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it! The story is told from the point of view of Rose and Ruby, conjoined twins who were born in the middle of a tornado, and abandoned at birth by their teenage mother. Considered as freaks by everyone who meets them, the sister’s are nevertheless determined to live as normal a life as possible. Rose and Ruby’s narration is heart-wrenching, humorous and absolutely unforgettable! This is one book that I definitely plan on re-reading again in the near future!
4. Still Life by Louise Penny (Quebec)
The first book in Penny’s popular mystery series, Still Life introduces readers to the loveable Chief Inspector Gamache. When a body is found in the woods Thanksgiving weekend, the locals are sure it is simply a horrible hunting accident. Gamache, however, believes something more sinister may be at hand. A cozy mystery that will leave you guessing until the end!
5. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler (Quebec)
If you grew up in Canada, chances are you read The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz at some point in high school. This coming of age tale focuses on Duddy, a third generation Jewish immigrant living in Montreal, who strives for wealth and status above everything else in life, even his own happiness. Despite all of his escapades and lies, Duddy remains a loveable character, which just goes to show Richler’s masterful writing.
6. The Birth House by Ami McKay (Nova Scotia)
The Birth House is one of my all-time favourite Canadian historical novels! McKay’s writing is breathtaking, and I loved her focus on midwifery during a time when birthing practices were on the cusp of change. The story follows Dora Rare, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift of healing. When a new doctor comes to her town of Scots Bay with promises of painless childbirth, Dora is forced to defend her traditions, or risk the practice of midwifery to become a part of history itself.
7. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (P.E.I.)
It is very rarely that I ever read a novel more than once, as my TBR pile is so big that I feel the need to devour as many new ones as I possibly can! Anne of Green Gables, however, is one of the few exceptions for me. I’ve read Anne not once, not twice, but three times! Montgomery’s beautiful writing, her description of the Island, and her loveable characters always have me coming back for more! Anne of Green Gables is one of the most heartwarming and amusing books I have ever read, and it only seems to get better the more times I read it! Read it. Enough said.
8. Lost in the Barrens by Farley Mowat (Northwest Territories)
This is another book that I’m sure many Canadian students have had to read for school! Also known as Two Against the North, Mowat’s classic novel tells the story of two boys who become lost in the arctic wilderness of the Northwest Territories. With only a few tools and their own wits to help them, the two boys must find a way to survive the dangerous and cold winter on their own. Filled with plenty of adventure and excitement, this was one of those novel studies that was actually hard to put down!
9. A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Towes (Manitoba)
Inspired partly by the author’s own life, A Complicated Kindness tells the story of Nomi, a teenage girl living in a strict and fundamentalist Mennonite community. Abandoned by her mother, Nomi dreams of also running away, and escaping to New York City. Instead, she is stuck with her father in a small town with little opportunity. In the end, A Complicated Kindness is a tender and darkly humorous tale that will play with your emotions.
10. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (British Columbia)
If you are looking for a book with beautiful writing and a bit of magical whimsy, then definitely make sure to check out A Tale for the Time Being! The story begins with Ruth discovering a diary written by a Japanese girl named Nao washed ashore on the beach by her home. Nao’s diary is heart wrenching; the young teenage girl has been bullied mercilessly at school, and her father is unemployed and suffering from a horrible depression. Concerned about Nao’s safety, Ruth becomes determined to track her down in real life, but it’s as if every trace of the girl has been erased from the world. A Tale for the Time Being is moving, thoughtful, and absolutely brilliant!
What is your favourite Canadian book or author? Let me know in the comments below! Happy Canada Day!!!! 🙂