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My Bookcase: The Geography of Canada

It’s been three years since I wrote up my top ten list geography books in a post called 50 Years a Geographer: My Top Ten books about Geography.

This list is a follow up to that effort with a particular focus on the geography and people of Canada. My approach was as follows:

1) Identify books in my bookcase that I had read about Canada or parts of Canada;
2) Given my travels, this tended to focus on British Columbia, Nunavut and the Maritimes;
3) My interest is on the literature of Place;
4) The books are organized ‘geographically ‘ from West to East.

1) Ian Gill. 2009. All that we say is ours. Douglas and McIntyre Haida Gwaii holds a special place in my heart. Ian Gill tells the story of Guujaaw and the reawakening of the Haida Nation. Ian Gill was President of Ecotrust Canada.
2) Sheila Harrington and Judi Stevenson (Ed) 2005. Islands in the Salish Sea. A Community Atlas. Touchwood Editions. Maps are an important component of the Geographer’s craft. This community atlas is a brilliant combination of art and science.
3) Nancy Turner. 2005. The Earth’s Blanket. Traditional teachings for sustainable living. Douglas and McIntyre. Within the discipline of Geography, my academic interest has been Biogeography. Nancy Turner brings her knowledge of ethnobotany to her understanding of indigenous people.
4) Stan Rowe. 1990. Home Place. Essays in Ecology. NeWest Publishers. Stan Rowe wrote two books: Home Place and Earth Alive. Born in Alberta and died in New Denver, BC.
5) Robert McGee. 1996. Ancient People of the Arctic. UBC press.McGee offers and excellent account on the ancient history of Arctic peoples.
6) Beatrice Collignon. 2006. Knowing Places. The Inuinnait, landscapes and the environment. CCI Press. This book, originally in French, describes how Inuinnait live their geography and the relationship between Geographic Knowledge and Cultural change.
7) Hugh Brody 1975. The People’s Land: Inuit, Whites and the Eastern Arctic. Douglas and McIntyre. Other books by Hugh Brody include Maps and Dreams, and the Other Side of Eden. I would recommend all three.
8) J. Sherman Bleakney. 2004. Sods, soils and spades. MQUP. The Acadians at Grand Pre and their dykeland legacy. Reviewed by Graeme Wynn ‘Richer than marsh mud. Sods, Soils and Spades is a book to be savoured rather than summarized’.
9) Harry Thurston. 1990. Tidal Life. A Natural History of the Bay of Fundy. Nimbus. Thurston celebrates the Bay of Fundy region, in combination with photographs by Stephen Homer.Thurston has written about The Place between the Tides. A naturalists reflection on the salt marsh. As well as several books of poetry.
10) Colin Coates and Graeme Wynn (Ed) 2019.The Nature of Canada. On Point Press. This recent collection of essays offers a wide range of perspectives on the environmental history of Canada. It explores the questions: how have people engaged with Canadian Nature and what do these engagements reveal about the nature of Canada (and Canadians) ?

I recognize that my list is constrained to those parts of Canada where I have lived and engaged with the landscape. Missing from my list are writers from the Prairies, Ontario and Quebec, as well as other parts of Atlantic Canada.

I also realize that my interest in place-based writing tends to focus on non-fiction, although there is considerable room for fiction and poetry.

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