Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books Set in Ontario

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Most people immediately think of Toronto when they hear the word Ontario. I love my city, but today I wanted to highlight the province as a whole. There are great books set in every part of it, so I have a lot to say this week!

Wenjack by Joseph Boyden and Kent Monkman book cover. Images on cover are of common Ontario wildlife like rabbits and otters.

Wenjack by Joseph Boyden and Kent Monkman

Where It’s Set: A fictionalized version of Kenora. (If you’re not familiar with our geography, think a remote corner of Northern Ontario near Woodland Caribou Provincial Park).

What It’s About: The story of Chani Wenjack, an Ojibwe boy who ran away from a  North Ontario residential school in an attempt to go home to his family. Chani was a real child, but some parts of the plot were fictionalized.

The Short-Wave Mystery (Hardy Boys, #24) by Franklin W. Dixon book cover. Image on cover is of one boy looking into a log cabin through its window while another boy crouches on the snow behind him.

The Short-Wave Mystery (Hardy Boys, #24) by Franklin W. Dixon

Where It’s Set: A fictional body of water called White Bear River near Hudson’s Bay, a real place in Northern Ontario.

What It’s About: The Hardy Boys figuring out who stole a collection of stuffed animals from an estate sale.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery book cover. Image on cover is of two lovers walking in a rose garden.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Where It’s Set: The fictional town of Deerwood, located in the Muskoka region in Central Ontario. Deerwood is based on the real city of Bala.

What It’s About: A young, single woman who was diagnosed with a fatal heart condition. Knowing that she only had about a year to live, she decided to escape her controlling family and find happiness wherever she can with the time she had left. This is my all-time favourite Montgomery novel, and it is much more cheerful than it might seem.

Whatever Happened to Mary Janeway?- A Home Child Story by Mary Pettit book cover. Image on cover is of a Victorian girl's photograph superimposed onto a black and white photo of London, Ontario

Whatever Happened to Mary Janeway?: A Home Child Story by Mary Pettit

Where It’s Set: Hamilton (southwest of Toronto).

What It’s About: This is a fictional story of a teenage girl who was sent to London, Ontario (which also southwest of Toronto) as part of the Home Child Program. She was so dissatisfied with her placement that she ran away from it!

If you’re not familiar with this bit of Canadian history, The Home Child program was a precursor to modern foster care and adoption in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Children in English orphanages were sent to Canada (and Australia) to be looked after by families there and taught the life skills and trades they’d need to know to be self-sufficient as adults. Some children were adopted into loving homes through it, but others were treated as free labour…or worse.

Cat's Eye  by Margaret Atwood book cover. Image on cover is of a hooded figure holding a glowing blue orb levitating above a bridge while snow falls on bare tree branches.

Cat’s Eye  by Margaret Atwood

Where It’s Set: Toronto

What It’s About: A controversial painter who returns home to confront her past and understand how those experiences shaped her art.

After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara book cover. Image on cover is of a hand holding a branch filled with cherry blossoms.

After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara

Where It’s Set: Toronto

What It’s About: An elderly woman suffering from dementia who goes missing one day, her adult daughter’s frantic search for her, and the family secrets that are revealed along the way.

38 Responses to Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books Set in Ontario

  1. After the bloom sounds incredibly emotional. I love the Hardy Boys cover — so retro! It takes me back to those that I read as a kid.

  2. These are all great stories, Lydia! Some of them take me back to my younger days of reading. Thanks for sharing!

    • I couldn’t get into Cat’s Eye, but my fingers are crossed that you’ll have better luck. I also tend to find Atwood’s stuff to be a huge hit or a miss for me, but I always give her new stories a chance to see which way they swing for my tastes.

      The Blue Castle is marvellous. I sure hope you like it.

  3. Ahh, The Hardy Boys! I’ve really enjoyed seeing the different books this prompt has inspired. More places to add to my “to visit” list.

    Also, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake takes place in Thunder Bay.

  4. Wow, these all sound really good.I know so embarrassingly little about Canada that I could not even place Ontario on a map, but these all sound really good. Although I did try a Hardy Boys book once and immediately decided it was not the series for me.

    • I also apparently know little about how to delete a sentence when I decide to add more commentary to it; facepalming about my typo.

  5. Thanks for coming by earlier. So many books to put on my TBR list! A lot of them (Montgomery, Hardy Boys, Atwood, to start) I’m not sure how I’ve missed since I love the authors. I love The Murdoch Mysteries on TV… now need to read the books by Maureen Jennings!

  6. We’re campers and I’ve always wanted to cross the border to do some camping in Canada. We’ve camped in the UP of MI, and on the Apostle Islands, off the northern coast of WI. We LOVE Grand Marais, MN, which is just a couple of hours south of Thunder Bay. I love it up there so much that I set a series of romance novels up there, because I almost make the town another character, I describe it so much. Kind of like a travelogue, with “naughty bits.” LOL. Re: Margaret Atwood–when she’s good, she’s riveting. When she’s off, I’ve had to flog myself to get through some of her books. She has a tendency to be overly wordy. Gee, as an author myself, I’m sure that’s NEVER happened in my books.

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