5 top reads to celebrate Canada

Dive into these pages that celebrate the history and geography of our country, from the mists of Niagara Falls to the waters bordering the Arctic.
By Laurie Grassi
5 top reads to celebrate Canada

Photo, Getty Images.

Canadian books Canada Day

Northwest Territories

Licking his wounds after failing in the ruthless Toronto radio market, Harry Boyd heads back north to the tiny Yellowknife station he once worked for. There, he finds himself seduced by a voice floating out over the airwaves, and mentors the shy Gwen, an accidental entrée into the radio world and an unlikely pairing for the grumpy Harry. An evocative portrayal of a northern city and its entertaining inhabitants.

Late Nights On Air, Elizabeth Hay, $20.
Late Nights On Air Elizabeth Hay


Wayne Johnston’s wit and humour shine in this vastly entertaining fictional account of the man who led Newfoundland into confederation. Small in name and small in stature, Joey Smallwood nonetheless has big dreams, even as a little boy with an inauspicious start as the eldest of 13 in a down-and-out family. He is bullied and in turn bullies others—including a lame girl who ends up becoming one of his closest allies at heart, the alcoholic journalist Sheilagh Fielding — and ends up with big plans for the colony of Newfoundland.

A Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Wayne Johnston, $22.
The Colony of Unrequited Dreams Wayne Johnston

British Columbia

A Chinese family living in Vancouver during the Depression is caught up in the traditional immigrant struggle for acceptance. Choy tells this unforgettable story from the perspectives of three siblings, Liang, and her brothers, Jung and Sekky. Enthralled by North American culture, the youngsters are equally captivated by the tales of their often strict Grandmama, Poh-Poh, and each battles to find a balance between the old ways and the new.

The Jade Peony, Wayson Choy, $20.
The Jade Peony Wayson Choy


A mesmerizing trip through the Toronto of the 1920s and ’30s, following the workers and the power men who built the city. With his usual haunting prose, Ondaatje carefully constructs the story of explosives expert Patrick Lewis as he becomes entangled with two women: flamboyant actress Clara Dickens and the mysterious Alice Gull. Each of Lewis’s lovers, in turn, has been involved with another man: Alice with rebellious labourer Cato, and Clara with missing millionaire Ambrose Small. Provocative and poetic.

In the Skin of a Lion, Michael Ondaatje, $21.
In the Skin of a Lion Michael Ondaatje

The Day the Falls Stood Still Cathy Marie Buchanan

When Bess boards a train home in 1915 after graduating from boarding school, she has no idea what awaits her at the end of the line. Her father has been fired from his job as director of the Niagara Falls hydroelectric station, and her mother is reduced to taking in sewing to earn money. In the midst of their troubles, Bess meets Tom Cole, a rough-and-ready riverman with an overwhelming love of the Niagara River — and a man her family believes beneath her.

The Day the Falls Stood Still, Cathy Marie Buchanan, $18.
The Day the Falls Stood Still Cathy Marie Buchanan


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