OPL Reads 150: Historical Fiction


We invited Ottawa to tell us of their favourite Canadian books, and we got a long list of fantastic titles.  So many that we've had to break them into different categories. 

This list is made up of books with historical settings - If you're intrigued by Canadian history and love a good story, there will be something here for you.  Travel through time and place with such older classics as Wild Geese by Martha Ostenso (family drama in the Prairies) and The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy (family tragedy in Montreal) or Fifth Business, the first in Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy, The Mountain and the Valley, Ernest Buckler's coming of age in Annapolis Valley, or A Bird in the House - back to the Prairies with Margaret Laurence.  More contemporary classics steeped in an earlier world are covered by The Orenda, Joseph Boyden's visceral telling of the Indigenous Huron Nation attempting to understand the invading Jesuits; or Away, Jane Urquhart's poetic rendering of Irish immigrants being chased out by English landlords and induced famine. Try The Englishman's Boy, Guy Vanderhaeghe's  early Hollywood filmmaking juxtaposed with the Cypress Hills Massacre in the Canadian West, Or Fall on Your Knees, Ann Marie MacDonald's breakway first novel success  in the heyday of Oprah Winfrey's Book Club - an engrossing tale with the backdrop of a Lebanese-Canadian Cape Breton world; delve into The Birth House by Ami MacKay, women's struggles in rural Nova Scotia of yesteryear, or Random Passage,  Bernice Morgan's multi-generational Newfoundland coastal life.  The Book of Negroes, The Cellist of Sarajevo, A Fine Balance, The Stone Diaries, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Alias Grace -  titles you will recognize, and  are here at the library, recommended by other Ottawa readers. 

This list speaks to many highlights of Canadian literature, stories that left deep impressions, and are still so resonant today. Is your favourite here, too?