18 Canadian Books to Inspire Wanderlust

Canadian books offer insights into the country from an insiders perspective and are a great source of information when planning your trips.

Maple syrup and hockey plus lots and lots of snow may be what Canada is most famous for but there is much more to this expansive country than originally meets the eye.  For a start, we can’t forget the Polar bears of Churchill, something I am determined to experience one day.

The fact that you can fit the UK into Canada roughly 40 times simply highlights how much there is to see and experience in a country only dwarfed in size by Russia.  While you may not automatically think about heading to a country described as America’s ‘neighbour to the North’, Canadians will undoubtedly say that their enriched landscape is well worth exploring either during the mild summer months or, if you are more hardy, during the extreme winter season.

Unsurprisingly, the stunning Canadian landscape has inspired authors across the globe to write about its epic scenery and diverse history.   Regardless of where you are heading there is bound to be a book inspired by the region itself.  For example, heading up north, you may wish to pick up a copy of Northern Wildflower by Catherine Laffety, while if you are considering heading to Newfoundland and Labrador either Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper or The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston  may provide you with some valuable insights into the local area.

Whether you prefer fictional or non-fictional works though there is bound to be at least one book that inspires Canadian wanderlust, and causes you to start looking online for cheap flights.

Places You Should Visit Based on the Best Canadian Books

#1 New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

Both Nova Scotia and Brunswick are provinces in Canada that have provided inspiration for writers to write Canadian themed books.

Nova Scotia – Image provided by Dennis Jarvis

Outdoor enthusiasts will love the Prince Edward Island, also known as the ‘birthplace of Canada’.  Whether you prefer long walks along sandy beaches, taking a cycle ride along the confederation trail, kayaking, sailing, or a simple round of golf this island impresses. 

For those looking for a vibrant seaside city, Charlottetown with its charm and history is a delightful place to visit.  Full of shops, top class restaurants and charm spending time here is effortless.

Book Inspiration: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  For anyone interested there is a three day Anne of Green Gables itinerary which will see you exploring Green Gables Heritage Place, the Anne of Green Gables Museum and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birthplace.

Other books featuring these provinces try reading The Acadians by James Laxer and Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald.

#2 Ontario

Toronto in Ontario is a hub for bibliophiles with bookshops and libraries. There seems to be a hive of activities around Canadian books.

Toronto. Image provided by Dennis Jarvis

No visit to Canada would be complete without spending time in this state, even if you go no further than Toronto, with Niagara Falls likely being at the top of most peoples’ lists.  There is also the CN Tower, Camp 30 POW Camp, Chateau Laurier and Casa Loma all worthy of your time.

Ontario is blessed with some of the most beautiful places in nature including Cyprus Lake Grotto, Decew Falls, Ouimet Canyon, Webster’s Falls, Algonquin Park and the lakes of Muskoka.  Simply ignoring these picturesque and often breathtaking sights is not an option, neither is forgetting your camera.

For book lovers visiting Ontario, you need to spend time at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and the Arthur Conan Doyle Room of the Toronto Library before visiting the Monkey’s Paw Bookshop which stocks books on  ‘the beautiful, the arcane, the macabre and the absurd’ according to the owner Stephen Fowler.  For those that love a good sci-fi there is also the Merrill Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy to visit.

Book Inspiration: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt and In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje.

#3 British Columbia

The playground of the Gods is just one of the many things you can do aroundthe Vancouver area. Whether you are interested in visiting a cultural hub or the nearby mountains this province has something that will appeal. Many authors have written Canadian books about this area.

The Playground of Gods. Image provided by David Meurin

The geek in me is immediately drawn to visiting The Enchanted Forest in Malakwa where over 350 fairy tale folk are hidden amongst 800 year old cedars but I also know that there is much more to see and do in the province.  Head to Burnaby in Vancover and hike to the Playground of the Gods where you will be greeted with the finest views out over the city as well as experiencing a unique display of totem poles.  There is also Yoho National Park in Field, the scandalous Empress Hotel in Victoria, the Pesuta shipwreck in Tlell and Okanagan Lake in Peachland.

For those that enjoy wildlife, a trip to Vancouver gives you the chance to go whale watching to see orcas, grey whales, humpbacks, minkes, porpoise, dolphins, seals and sea lions.  Vancouver is also close to the Sea to Sky Gondola which passes 2,800 feet past Shannon Falls and gives spectacular views out over Howe Sound.  For me, this alone gives me reason to look for a cheap flight to Vancouver

Book Inspiration: The Spawning Grounds by Gail Anderson-Dargatz,  A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki and The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy.

#4 Alberta

The wildlife of Alberta is just one of the many things to inspire writers in this region with many Canadian books focusing on both this and the natural beauty of the area.

The wildlife in Alberta. Image provided by Wilson Hui

For anyone who prefers the great outdoors, the province of Alberta is screaming out for your attention.  Home to the Banff National Park, part of the Rocky Mountains, this is where wildlife runs freely and visitors get to explore the UNESCO World Heritage site either by foot, by bike or by skiing through some of the world’s most breath-taking mountain scenery.

For those that love the fresh air there is also Lake Louise, Jasper National Park, Athabasca Glacier, Maligne Lake and Lake Minnewanka.  In fact there are five national parks and more than 90 lakes for people to explore. 

For those that prefer culture to nature there is also Canmore, Calgary and Edmonton which are full of museums, theme parks and shops to explore.

Book Inspiration: Coppermine by Keith Ross Leckie, The Englishman’s Boy by Guy Vanderhaeghe and Mamaskatch by Darrel Mcleod.

#5 Quebec

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Quebec city is a stunning city to wander around. Full of culture, this is a city that Canadians have spent a lot of time writing about.

Place Royale in the heart of Historical Quebec. Image provided by Dennis Jarvis.

While, I am sure, most people think about visiting Canada to go skiing or hiking, Old Quebec is a history nerd’s dream.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 which has undergone extensive renovation, this special district is where the first French settlement was established in 1608. You can walk down Petit-Champlain Street, which is the largest commercial avenue in both the US and Canada, visit Seminaire de Quebec museum, which was the earliest ever university in Canada before entering into the Catherdral of Notre Dame.

For bibliophiles, Quebec City became the 27th UNESCO City of Literature in October 2017 therefore you will find festivals and bookshops galore in this Canadian city.    

Why not therefore undertake a twin-centre break to Canada with a city break here followed by a stint in one of nature’s many playgrounds.

Book Inspiration: Lost in September by Kathleen Winter and Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz.

Have you visited Canada? Where would you recommend?  Maybe you have a Canadian book suggestion for us that will further highlight the diverse nature of the huge country.

2 Comments

  • I love travelling in Canada so thought I’d pop by for inspiration on books to read. I don’t think any come close to matching Anne of Green Gables for international renown. Before visiting Prince Edward Island I know I’ve got to read it.

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