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MJ's Canadiana Reading Suggestions

This week’s blog is inspired by a friend and her husband who are moving to Canada – Toronto specifically. I promised her I’d make some book suggestions and decided I’d turn it into a blog and hope that others will share in a bit of Canadiana and get my friends excited (as if they aren’t already).

This list of books will not be in any order of preference, just good books by Canadian authors. As well, it is nowhere close to a complete list.

So here it is: MJ’s Canadiana Reading Suggestions – with a slight focus on Southern Ontario

Margaret Atwood of course makes this list but focusing on Toronto here are the best choices:

The Robber Bride: after reading this book you could take the ferry to Centre Island and check out the setting for the book.

Alias Grace: As I understand it the grave of the real Thomas Kinnear can be visited at the Richmond Hill Presbyterian Cemetery. After reading the book you can also watch the miniseries and tour the film locations. This will take you to places such as:

The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments: After reading the Handmaid’s Tale you can watch the mini series and tour the film locations. This will lead you to downtown Toronto – City Hall, St. Lawrence Market, and the Royal York but also on the west side of Toronto to places such as:

  • Coronation Park in Oakville

  • Grand Durand in Hamilton

  • The centre of Cambridge to Mill Race Park on the Grand River

Michael Red Hill’s Bellevue Square is a great one for touring around Kensington Market and Queen St. in Toronto. You can follow my self guided tour and see Jean Mason’s world – make sure you eat a pupusa.

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews takes place between Toronto and Winnipeg and is just a good story.

The Book of Negros by Lawrence Hill, interestingly in the Netherlands, the US, Australia, and New Zealand it was called Someone Knows My Name because of the word Negros. However, Hill chose the title of the book based on a document with the same name that recorded the black people who had served the King and escaped from the US to Canada.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel is excellent. Then watch the movie on the biggest screen you can find. The cinematography is amazing.

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields takes place in the Prairies not Southern Ontario, but is such a nice read.

Barbara Gowdy’s The White Bone this one I picked up because someone told me I looked like the author in her photo. Of course, I had to see what she looked like and when I read the book jacket I was hooked. I loved the book. Although it doesn’t take place in Canada, Gowdy is a Canadian author.

Margaret Laurence – my mother would be upset if I didn’t put her on this list as she loves her books. Some of them have been made into plays and sometimes you can find small theatres around Southern Ontario putting one on. They are:

· The Diviners

· The Stone Angel

You can also turn a Margaret Laurence book into a day trip from Toronto to Lakefield. Here you will find Margaret Laurence’s house at 8 Regent St. Lakefield was also the town that Susannah Moodie and her sister Catharine Parr Traill lived in when they immigrated to Canada. The two write about their pioneering experiences in Canada during the 1800s.

Lakefield has a rich literary history and they have a literary festival every year to celebrate it. In fact, while looking into the location of Moodie and Traill’s houses I found this cute little self-guided walking tour of the town. Maybe one day when Covid has passed I will get back to Canada to check this out.

There are so many Canadian authors I have yet to read, some that people rave about: Emma Donoghue, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Alice Munro, and Rohinton Mistry to name a few. My list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to amazing Canadian authors. I’d love for others to share favourite ones either in the comments or private message me. I will make sure my friends see everyone’s suggestions, not to mention that since I left Canada I’m not as exposed to Canadian books as much and miss them, so the list will be for me too.

Happy Easter everyone.

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Karen Houlding
Karen Houlding
Apr 04, 2021

This was a fun journey back in time! I have read a few Margaret Atwood books and enjoyed them. I have The White Bone on my wish list!

Some more Canadian authors that came to mind ...

* Lucy Maud Montgomery and the Anne of Green Gables series! I can't remember reading them, but our family visited the Green Gables home in PEI on vacation!

* Robert Munsch children's books which we used to read to our boys a long time ago - Smelly Socks, Alligator Baby, Love You Forever, The Fire Station and more. A most amazing collection!

* Louise Penny's murder mystery series which I have to mention for my Mom who is such a huge fan!


Apr 05, 2021
Replying to

Karen, great contribution to my books. Some I forgot, others I hadn't read, and still, some I hadn't heard of.

Robert Munsch is great! We read it to our children too and to my little sister. I alwasys think of Love you Forever and Mud Puddle. Thank you Karen!

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