This July, our northern neighbor celebrates its sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary. The Dominion of Canada, formed on July 1, 1867, included the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Now 10 provinces and three territories strong, Canada will hold festive events nationwide to celebrate the event known as Canada 150. So how can you celebrate Canada’s rich heritage through literature? Let the library help!
Trip planners headed to Canada will want to check out an excellent pair of guides from National Geographic. Their “Guide to the National Historic Sites of Canada” features the beautiful photography National Geographic is known for, and it details Canada’s 168 national historic sites, which include archaeological sites, battlegrounds, natural features and other heritage sites. Readers can take in the views of the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America, or head northwest to Dawson City — a town that played a significant role in the late-1800s Yukon Gold Rush. July is also National Parks Month in Canada, so you might want to check out National Geographic’s “Guide to the National Parks of Canada.” Readers can explore the country’s 46 national parks, from the majestic Columbia Mountains of Canada’s Glacier National Park in British Columbia to the breathtaking fjords and oceanic landscapes of Gros Morne in Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada’s natural landscapes have something for everyone to enjoy.
History and geography buffs who want to learn more about Canada need look no further than the “Historical Atlas of Canada” by Derek Hayes. This oversized paperback spans a thousand years of history from the earliest coastal navigators, including Norse voyagers, to colonization and settlement by the French and English. Hayes thoroughly chronicles European exploration of the interior, the fur trade, war and continued western and northern expansion of the nation through the 20th century. The book contains segments focusing on the annexation of each province, as well as the effects of land development on the native populations. Truly unique in form, this volume is a treasure trove of vintage maps and images of the region collected from archives across the nation, some which have never before been published.
Are narratives more your speed? Literature set in Canada, especially when written by native authors, will help you get into the spirit. Perhaps Canada’s most noteworthy and prolific author, Margaret Atwood, who continues to publish thought-provoking and insightful works of fiction. Her newest collection of short stories “Stone Mattress: Nine Tales” is a perfect starting point for those wanting to get acquainted with Atwood’s work. The collection showcases her dark humor and wit. Highlights of the work include “The Freeze-Dried Groom,” which follows a man in a failing marriage who makes an ironic and bizarre discovery in a storage unit and the closing piece, and “Torching the Dusties,” which features an elderly woman doubly burdened by protestors outside her nursing home and a visual disorder that causes her to see little men who aren’t there. When you get a chance, be sure to also check out her popular classic “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which has recently been adapted for television and her newest novel “Hag-seed,” a retelling of “The Tempest.”
A Canadian author on the rise, Jeff Lemire is a comics writer and artist whose work has been published by Top Shelf, DC Comics (and their Vertigo imprint), Marvel, Image and Dark Horse. His signature style is on display in the newly published “Roughneck,” which tells the story of two reconnected siblings struggling to escape from violent, destructive pasts in a remote town in northern Canada. For a similar feel, check out “Essex County,” which collects three stories of lonely people in an isolated farm town in Ontario, inspired by the author’s hometown. Lemire masterfully presents the intertwining stories of a young orphaned boy, two estranged brothers and an unappreciated rural nurse.
Finally, check out this book list or visit the library to discover more Canada-themed books. Now, go forth and celebrate our neighbor to the north!