Calling All Canadians!

You have to help me out, please.  I have an embarrassing admission.  I know almost nothing about Canadian literature.

When I say “almost nothing,” I mean that literally.  How is that possible?  Growing up, in English classes, we were exposed to mountains of English literature, meaning from England.  And scores of American writers in American Lit classes.  In college, I took many English courses including a Shakespearean class.

But I have never even seen a Canadian Lit class here.  And I live in the state of New York. We border Canada, for heaven’s sake.bitmoji thinking

It’s possible, of course, that in the course of my life I have read novels by Canadian authors and didn’t realize that they were Canadian.  Which means there were no embedded clues.  I would have picked up on those.


So what do I know?  I know and love Louise Penny and                                                             her Armand Gamache series.  I love crime fiction and her books go way beyond that. They capture your heart, tear at your heart, beg you to solve the crime and empathize with the fallout.  I check my Barnes & Noble list frequently, hoping the next novel will be published soon.            Louise Penny still life


I also have read a bunch of Kathy Reich’s books.  I don’t know if those count because while they are set both in the US and in Canada, she is an American author.

Lydia Longley coverMy first introduction to Canada and books featuring Canadian life and people, boy do I sound stuffy was in 2nd grade when I read the biography of “Lydia Longley, The First American Nun.”  American as in from North America.  She was born in the US but eventually went to Canada and became a nun.  I immediately wanted to be a nun and spent 2nd grade, which was also the year of my First Holy Communion, trying to act nun-like. Unfortunately, or fortunately (I think my kids would vote for fortunately),  it didn’t stick.  I still love the book.

On one of my trips to Canada with my husband, we went to a fort and heard about a battle from the Canadian point of view.  I looked down to be sure I didn’t have on a shirt with the American flag, and considered slinking away unnoticed or screaming I’M SORRY.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to have my high school students read about history from two points of view, so I bought “Laura Secord, The Heroic Adventures of a Candian Legend” by Cheryl MacDonald.Laura SecordAnd that, ladies and gentlemen and my LGTB friends, is the extent of my knowledge of Canadian literature and authors.  Please give me recommendations of any genre and any author you enjoy.  Thank you!

About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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33 Responses to Calling All Canadians!

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m not much help here, I’m afraid. I’ve enjoyed Louise Penny’s books too and I love Kathy Reichs’s series. I also finally read a Margaret Atwood book. She’s Canadian, isn’t she? Like you, I’ve probably read more Canadian authors, but I just didn’t realize it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul says:

    Yeah to be quite honest I don’t think we make a big deal out of Canadian literature here. Or maybe that’s just my perspective. I know we read a book called “Lost in the Barrens” by Farley Mowat in elementary school. That was Canadian. Don’t know what else to mention/suggest.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Barb Knowles says:

    Usually 11th grade English is American Literature, at least in NY.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. christophermcgeownwriting says:

    agreed, but my grade 11 teacher liked Michael Ondaatje and we read one of his novels and it was okay! (can’t remember which one lol) Some of his poetry is not bad either.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ondaatje, as Christopher mentioned, is one. Also Stephen Leacock wrote many very amusing essays and parody stories, including one one detective fiction that I love.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Val says:

    I’m not Canadian, but here are a few:
    I hadn’t realised that Margaret Atwood was Canadian. There are more there.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bea dM says:

    Alice Munro is world-class: Nobel Prize for Literature, and a Man Booker too … Her short stories have interesting structures, but are often not “easy” reading. Years ago, I left a couple of books of hers half-way through…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Barb! One of my favourite dad bloggers is Eric aka Stomper Dad. He lives in Canada and he is a teacher. He’s at Let me also pop a tweet! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. stomperdad says:

    Hi there! Thanks Ann for pointing me here. I know a little bit about Canadian lit. Though I’ve only been living here for 7 years. Probably the most famous that I know (Sorry if these were mentioned already, I didn’t read the comments, just your post) “Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Sheree Fitch is amazing too (she was at my house one day!) or anything by Margaret Atwood, or Life of Pi by Yann Martel, “No Great Mischief” by Alistair MacLeod is great (highly(!) recommend that one. “The Wars” by Timothy Findley is good, too – about a young Canadian soldier in the trenches of WWI. Hope this helps and good luck.
    p.s. If you are looking for children’s literature there is none higher upper than the great Sheree Fitch. While she does write adult novels, she is most famous for her children’s books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Welcome! I’m thrilled that you are visiting my blog and hope that you stay a while. 😃 These are all great suggestions. How could I have forgotten about Anne of Green Gables? I have two copies and have read it several times. I will follow this blog up with another when I have read a bunch of these and others suggested. Thank for helping to fill a gap in my literary knowledge. An embarrassing gap. How did you manage a visit from Sheree Fitch?


  10. tj6james6 says:

    L. M. Montgomery (Ann of Green Gables) is Canadian and quite apropos for the older young children.
    Margaret Atwood was at FanExpo this year, selling/promoting her latest. Unfortunately finances said we couldn’t go :(.
    Linda Blum is new on the scene and local to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Don’t be embarrassed. I’m Canadian and am in the same boat. I even took some Canadian lit classes at McGill University but I don’t remember the names of the authors of the books I read. Should I be ashamed? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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