Merilyn Simonds
Canadian Wildflowers cover The Unseen Bridegroom cover

Evolutionist at Large cover

Pauline Johnson Sara Jeanette Duncan

Bliss Carman

Robert Service

Lucy Maude Montgomery Anne of Green Gables

In Flanders Fields White Narcissus

Nellie McClung

Mazo de la Roche Jalna by Mazo de la Roche

Who Has Seen The Wind William Ormond Mitchell

The Red Heart

Layton Irving

Antonine Maillet La Sagouine book cover

Cape Breton Harbour book cover Halfbreed book cover

Alligator Pie

Obasan book cover

Dionne Brand A Fine Balance book cover

Anne Michaels Michael Ondaatje

Pilgrim book cover Timothy Findley

.   #CanadaBooks150   .

In early May, when I was visiting Bookmark Bookstore in Charlottetown, PEI, I admired the pin owner Dan MacDonald produced to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial. Where Would We Be Without Books? was inscribed on the pin. Where indeed?

But what were the first books that shaped readers in this country? Olivia Robinson, a young bookseller in the store, and I decided to start #CanadaBooks150, listing one title published in each year of confederation. You can see the complete list at the Bookmark Bookstore site, too.

It has been a fascinating project, unearthing new books and books we’d forgotten about. We are working to find works of every genre by authors of every gender, geographical location, and cultural background, so that together these titles will sketch a unique portrait of Canada. The towns associated with the writers are sometimes their birthplaces, but more often the place where they were writers.

In the end, this is a highly personal list, one that has occasioned hard choices, especially for recent years. Many contemporary authors who are not represented will, I hope, join the 200th anniversary list in 2067—prepared by someone other than me!

1867 Helena’s Household by James deMille of Fredericton, New Brunswick
1868 Canadian Wildflowers by Catharine Parr Traill of Lakefield, Ontario
1869 The Unseen Bridegroom by May Agnes Fleming of Carleton, New Brunswick
1870 Katie Johnstone’s Cross by Agnes Maule Machar of Kingston, Ontario
1871 L’expedition militaire de Manitoba 1870 by Benjamin Sulte of Trois-Rivières, Quebec
1872 The Inglises by Margaret Murray Robertson of Montreal, Quebec
1873 Ocean to Ocean by George Grant of Toronto, Ontario
1874 Fadette: Journal d’Henriette Dessaules by Henriette Dessaules (QC)
1875 George Leatrim by Susanna Moodie of Belleville, Ontario
1876 Saul: A Drama by Charles Heavysege of Montreal, Quebec
1877 The Golden Dog by William Kirby of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
1878 Lady Rosamond’s Secret: A Romance of Fredericton by Rebecca Agatha Armour of Fredericton, New Brunswick
1879 Les Fleurs boreales, les oiseaux de neige by Louis-Honoré Frechette of Levís, Quebec
1880 Orion and Other Poems by Charles G.D. Roberts of Douglas, New Brunswick
1881 Evolutionist at Large by Grant Allen of Kingston, Ontario.
1882 Ouevres completes de Octave Cremazie by Octave Cremazie of Quebec City, Quebec.
1883 “My Little Jean” (poem) by E. Pauline Johnson of Six Nations, Ontario
1884 Malcolm’s Kate and Other Poems by Isabella Valency Crawford of Toronto, Ontario
1885 “Canadian Folk Song Poem” by William Wilfrid Campbell of Ottawa, Ontario
1886 Tecumseh by Charles Mair of Lanark Ontario & Victoria, BC
1887 Lyrics on Freedom, Love and Death by George Frederick Cameron of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia
1888 Among the Millet and Other Poems by Archibald Lampman of Morpeth, Ontario
1889 Making a Start in Canada – Letters of 2 Brothers ed. A.J. Church of Barrie area, Ontario
1890 Our Norland by Charles Sangster of Kingston, Ontario
1891 An American Girl in London by Sara Jeanette Duncan of Toronto, Ontario
1892 “Sir Provo Wallis” (poem) by Charles Fenerty of Upper Sackville, Nova Scotia
1893 Low Tide on Grand Pré by Bliss Carman of Fredericton, New Brunswick
1894 Legends of the MicMacs by Silas Tertius Rand of Kentville, Nova Scotia
1895 Pour la Patrie: roman du XXe siècle by Jules-Paul Tardivel of Montreal, early Canadian speculative fiction
1896 Tisab Ting, or The Electrical Kiss by Dyjan Fergus (Ida May Ferguson) of New Brunswick, first Canadian scifi
1897 The Habitant by William Henry Drummond of Cobalt, Ontario
1898 From Distant Shores by Mary Electra Adams of Sackville, New Brunswick
1899 Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum of Mount Hanley, Nova Scotia
1900 The Lande That Had No Turning, gothic short stories by Sir Horatio Gilbert George Parker of Camden East, Ontario
1901 The Man From Glengarry by Ralph Connor (Rev. Dr. Charles William Gordon), Winnipeg, Manitoba
1902 The Wooing of Wisteria by Onoto Watanna (Winnifred Eaton) of Montreal, Quebec
1903 The O’Ruddy, A Romance by Robert Barr (with Stephen Crane) of Windsor, Ontario
1904 Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics by Bliss Carmen of Fredericton, New Brunswick
1905 The Sunless City: From the Papers and Diaries of the Late Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin by J. E. Preston Muddock, inspiration for name of Flin Flon, Manitoba
1906 Placide, l’homme mysterieux by Gilbert Buote of Charlottetown, PEI
1907 Songs of a Sourdough by Robert Service, Bard of the Yukon, Dawson City
1908 Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery of PEI
1909 The Inner Shrine by Basil King of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
1910 Fleurs sauvages: poésies, by Léonise Valois of Vaudeuil, Quebec, the first poetry collection by a French Canadian woman.
1911 A Love Story from the Rice Fields of China by Sin Sin Far (Edith Maude Eaton) Montreal , Quebec, sister of Winnifred Eaton
1912 Open Trails by Janey Canuck (Emily Murphy) of Edmonton, Alberta
1913 Maria Chapdelaine by Louis Hémon of Lac Saint-Jean, Quebec
1914 Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich by Stephen Leacock of Orillia, Ontario
1915 Legend of the White Reindeer by Ernest Thompson Seton of Toronto, Ontario
1916 In a Belgian Garden by Frank Oliver Call of West Brome, Quebec
1917 The new Joan and other poems by Katherine Hale (pseudonym of Amelia Beers Warnock who became Mrs. John W. Garvin) of Galt, Ontario
1918 In Flanders Fields and Other Poems by John McCrae of Guelph, Ontario
1919 Sister Woman short fiction by feminist Jessie Georgina Sime, of Montreal, Quebec
1920 The Prairie Mother (part of trilogy that include Prairie Wife and Prairie Child) by Arthur Stringer of Chatham, Ontario
1921 Canada at the Cross Roads by Agnes Christina Laut of Huron County, Ontario
1922 The Great War as I Saw It by FG Scott of Montreal, Quebec
1923 Newfoundland Verse by EJ Pratt of Western Bay, Newfoundland
1924 The Canadian Book of Days by Fred Williams and Aley Mary Shonfield Williams of Toronto, Ontario
1925 Wild Geese by Martha Ostenso of Manitoba
1926 Grain by Robert JC Stead of Cartwright, Manitoba
1927 Jalna by Mazo de la Roche of Newmarket, Ontario
1928 Rockbound by Frank Parker Day of Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia
1929 White Narcissus by Raymond Knister of Windsor, Ontario
1930 Be Good to Yourself by Nellie McClung of Calgary, Alberta
1931 Gloses Critiques by Louis Dantin (Eugène Seers) of Beauharnois, Quebec
1932 A Broken Journey by Morley Callaghan of Toronto, Ontario
1933 Fruits of the Earth by Frederick Philip Grove, Simcoe, Ontario
1934 Au Coeur de Quebec by Marius Barbeau of Ste-Marie-de-Beauce, Quebec
1935 Bitter Honey by Francis Pollock of Huron County, Ontario
1936 Tales of an Empty Cabin by Archibald Belaney (Grey Owl) of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
1937 The Dark Weaver by Laura Goodman Salverson of Winnipeg, Manitoba
1938 Canadian Mosiac by John Murray Gibbon, Montreal, Quebec
1939 Tay John by Howard O’Hagan of Lethbridge, Alberta
1940 Slava Bohu: the Story of Canada’s Doukhobors by J.F.C. Wright, Minnedosa, Manitoba
1941 As for Me and My House by Sinclair Ross of Shellbrook, Saskatchewan
1942 The Book of Small by Emily Carr of Vancouver, British Columbia
1943 News of the Phoenix & other poems by AJM Smith of Montreal, Quebec
1944 Maggie Muggins by Mary Grannan of Fredericton, New Brunswick
1945 By Grand Central Station I Sat Down & Wept by Elizabeth Smart of Ottawa, Ontario; The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy of Montreal, Quebec
1946 Colony to Nation: A History of Canada by A.R.M. Lower of Kingston, Ontario
1947 Who Has Seen the Wind by WO Mitchell, of Weyburn, Saskatchewan
1948 Warden of the North by Thomas H. Raddall, Halifax, Nova Scotia
1949 The Red Heart by James Reaney, Toronto, ON
1950 The Outlander (Le Survenant, 1945) by Germaine Guèvremont of Montreal, Quebec
1951 The Black Huntsman by Irving Layton of Montreal, Quebec
1952 The Mountain & the Valley by Ernest Buckler of West Dalhousie, Nova Scotia
1953 The Net and the Sword by Douglas LePan of Toronto, Ontario
1954 Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson of Vancouver, British Columbia
1955 The Tontine by Thomas B. Costain of Brantford, Ontario
1956 The Mysterious North by Pierre Berton of Dawson City, Yukon
1957 Anatomy of Criticism by Northrop Frye of Moncton, New Brunswick
& The Watch That Ends the Night by Hugh MacLennan of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia
1958 Canada Made Me by Norman Levine of Toronto, ON
1959 The Double Hook by Sheila Watson of New Westminster, BC
1960 This Side Jordan by Margaret Laurence of Neepawa, Manitoba
1961 Double Persephone by Margaret Atwood of Toronto, ON
1962 The Blur in Between: Poems 1960-61 by Al Purdy, of Wooler, ON
& The Gutenberg Galaxy by Marshall McLuha of Toronto, ON
1963 JawBreakers by Milton Acorn of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
1964 White Figure, White Ground by Hugh Hood of MOntreal, Quebec
1965 Terror and Erebus by Gwendolyn MacEwen of Toronto ON
1966 Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen of Montreal, Quebec
1967 The Ecstasy of Rita Joe by George Ryga, Deep Creek, Alberta
& The Unquiet Bed by Dorothy Livesay, of Winnipeg, Manitoba
1968 Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro of Wingham, Ontario
1969 The Studhorse Man by Robert Kroetsch of Heisler, Alberta
1970 Songs of the Sea Witch by Susan Musgrave of Sidney, British Columbia
1971 La Sagouine by Antonine Maillet of Bouctouche, New Brunswick
& Fifth Business by Robertson Davies of Peterborough, ON
1972 Cape Breton Harbour by Edna Staebler of Kitchener, ON
1973 Halfbreed by Maria Campbell of Park Valley, Saskatchewan
1974 Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee of Toronto, ON
1975 Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler of Montreal, Quebec
1976 The Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alistair MacLeod of Windsor, ON & Cape Breton Island
1977 The Scorched-Wood People by Rudy Wiebe of Fairholme, Saskatchewan
1978 The Poems of Rita Joe by Rita Joe of Whycocomagh, Cape Breton Island
1979 The Glassy Sea by Marian Engel of Toronto, ON
1980 Heloise by Ann Hebert of Quebec (Kamouraska 1970)
& Crackwalker by Judith Thompson of Kingston, ON
1981 Obasan by Joy Kogawa of Vancouver, BC
1982 Primitive Offensive by Dionne Brand of Toronto ON
1983 Shakespeare’s Dog by Leon Rooke of Eden Mills, ON
1984 Volkswagon Blues by Jacques Poulin of Quebec City
1985 An Exchange of Gifts by Alden Nowlan of Stanley, Nova Scotia
& How to Make Love to a Negro by Dany Laferrière of Montreal, Quebec
1986 Love You Forever by Robert Munsch of Toronto, ON
1987 Honour the Sun by Ruby Slipperjack of Eabametoong First Nation, near Thunder Bay, ON
1988 In Transit by Mavis Gallant of Montreal & Paris
1989 Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing by Thomson Highway of Brochet, Manitoba
1990 The Divine Ryans by Wayne Johnstonof Goulds, Nfld
1991 Last Makings: Poems by Earle Birney, poet/novelist of Creston, BC
1992 The Republic of Love by Carol Shields of Winnipeg, Manitoba
& The Afterlife of George Cartwright by John Steffler of Toronto, ON
1993 Away by Jane Urquhart of Cobourg, ON
1994 Lives of the Mind Slaves by Matt Cohen of Toronto, ON
1995 A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry of Toronto, ON
& Jade Peony by Wayson Choy of Vancouver, BC
1996 Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels of Toronto, ON
1997 Small Change by Elizabeth Hay of Ottawa, ON
1998 Handwriting by Michael Ondaatje of Toronto, ON
& Forms of Devotion by Diane Schoemperlen of Thunder Bay & Kingston, ON
1999 Pilgrim by Timothy Findley of Toronto, ON
2000 Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards of Newcastle, NB
2001 Thunder & Light by Marie-Claire Blais of Quebec City
& Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright of St. Catharines, ON
2002 The Polished Hoe by Austin Clark of Toronto, ON
2003 Mud City by Deborah Ellis of Cochrane, ON
2004 A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews of Steinback, Manitoba
& Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs of Toronto, ON
2005 Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden of Toronto, ON
2006 Black by George Eliot Clarke of Windson, Nova Scotia
2007 The Blue Hour of the Day: Selected Poems by Lorna Crozier of Swift Current Saskatchean
2008 Kerrisdale Elegies by George Bowering of Oliver BC Laureate
2009 is a door by Fred Wah of Swift Current, Saskatchewan
2010 Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
& Room by Emma Donoghue of London, ON
2011 Killdeer by Phil Hall of Lindsay, ON
2012 The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King of California & Guelph, ON
2013 Nocturne: On the Life and Death of my Brother by Helen Humphreys of Kingston, ON
2014 Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese Ojibwe from the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in northwestern Ontario
2015 The Pain Tree by Olive Senior, Toronto, ON
2016 Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien of Montreal, Quebec
2017 This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson of Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg, Alderville First Nation
& No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein of Toronto, ON