Canada: travel books to read before you go

This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Canada guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

Mad Dogs and the EnglishwomanIt’s minus 40°C and perpetually sun-less when Polly Evans arrives in the Yukon’s remote countryside to learn to drive sled dogs. Somehow, she makes the bruising business of mushing sound attractive in Mad Dogs and an Englishwoman, filling her pages with mischievous huskies, glistening hoar frost and northern lights that weave red and green across the sky.

KabloonaVictoria Jason is another plucky female with a chilly Far North tale. The Inuit referred to her as Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak (kabloona means ‘stranger’), which became the title of this grandmother’s compelling book about her 7500km paddling expedition from Churchill, Manitoba, to Tuktoyaktuk on the Beaufort Sea from 1991 to ’94.

The Boat that wouldn't FloatLove-him-or-hate-him author Farley Mowat spins a good yarn in The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float, about sailing his schooner Happy Adventure around Newfoundland. The boat’s eternal leak only enhances exploits involving rumrunning, heavy drinking and hanging out with various coastal characters.

Great Lakes SuiteHumor, magic and sly literary conceits make David McFadden’s Great Lakes Suite, a collection of vignettes about trips he took around Lakes Erie, Huron and Ontario, hallucinogenically funny and poignantly insightful. He also regales readers with a chronicle of wanderings around The Rock in An Innocent in Newfoundland: Even More Curious Ramblings and Singular Encounters.

Walter Stewart first zipped across the Trans-Canada Hwy in 1964. Thirtyfive years later he did it again, and this time he wrote a book about what he saw. In My Cross-Country Checkup: Across Canada By Minivan, Through Space and Time, Stewart moves beyond clichés as he explores the Evangeline legend in Nova Scotia, the real Lucy Maud Montgomery of Green Gables and the Irving oil empire, among other Canadian touchstones.

Sacre BluesFinally, Sacre Blues: An Unsentimental Journey Through Québec, by Taras Grescoe, is an often laugh-out-loud book that introduces readers to the hilarious and maddening foibles of the Québecois. Linguistics, unsavory lust for poutine and the province’s reputation as ‘Canada’s smoking section’ are all artfully skewered by the author’s dry wit.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found on