Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover Salma the Syrian Chef

Notes from a Children’s Librarian: Satisfying Endings

By Julie Booker

How do you create a sense of satisfaction in a story’s finale? The following books pull it off!

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49thShelf Summer Reads

Introducing the 49th Shelf Summer Books List: Part 2

By Kerry Clare

Our summer reads extravaganza continues with PART 2 of our Summer Books List, and once again, each and every title is up …

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Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

By Spencer Miller

Welcome to the Association for Canadian publisher’s Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video seri …

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Book Cover bread and water

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

New books about everything, including food, beauty, art, travel, singing, healing, grieving, shopping, aging, and so muc …

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Book Cover Unlocking

CanLit Yearning

By Amy LeBlanc

"At the heart of my novella and in each book on this CanLit list is a sense of desire or a yearning (for belonging, iden …

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The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

By Trevor Corkum

This week we’re in conversation with political trailblazer Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, whose memoir, The Queer Evangelist, …

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Book Cover The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Fall Fiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

With new books by Miriam Toews, Dawn Dumont, Douglas Coupland, Marie-Renee Lavoie, Omar El Akkad, Zoe Whittall, Trudy Mo …

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Book Cover The Quiet is Loud

Speculative Fiction: Vast and Thrilling

By Samantha Garner

"As a reader and a lightly superstitious human, I can’t deny the pull of the unusual, the not-quite-real. I love books …

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Book Cover Travels in Cuba

Writing with Four Hands

By Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel

"That’s what the Travels series is all about: sending a resourceful, observant, unafraid (well, sometimes a little afr …

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Asterix Reality: Excerpt From The Rude Story of English

Cover The Rude Story of English

In The Rude Story of English, Tom Howell, an ex-lexicographer, takes on one of his favourite stories: how the English language came to be—and tells it through its rudest, most offensive, simplest parts. From 440 AD, when Hengest, a Germanic warrior, first stepped onto English shores and cursed as his boots filled with seawater, to the present day, curses, insults, and rude words have played as important a role in the story of English as polite ones. 

The Rude Story of English is part fact, part fiction and reveals that, no matter how uncomfortable or off-putting, there's much to be learned from some of a language's most colourful parts.

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I grew up knowing about the Astérix reality, the world of the books populated by cartoon Gauls and Romans engaged in unevenly plausible scenarios drawn from facts and other speculations. The asterisk reality is exactly the same thing. In a philologist’s handwriting, an asterisk mark signals where material has been concocted to plug a hole in real-world evidence. For example, when someone at Oxford’s dictionary department wanted to show that our modern word “arse” once had a job as an ancient Greek word, “orsoz,” the scholar needed to imagine a scene in which a German princess 2000 years ago was sitting on somethi …

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Of Determined Rebels and Patriot Wars: Fighting for the Survival of Upper Canada

Book Cover Death of a Patriot

Don Gutteridge's latest book in the Marc Edwards Mystery series is Death of a Patriot. Here, he fills us in on the book's historical background.

*****

My fiction series, The Marc Edwards Mysteries, tells the story of Upper Canada in the 1830s and settlers’ struggles to make their lives there. The books depict settlers’ threats from not only annexationists in the United States, but also from within Upper Canada’s own governing party, the Family Compact.

Upper Canada’s Family Compact was composed of a handful of would-be aristocrats who controlled the Upper Chamber of the Legislature and were in thick with the Governor of the day (appointed from Britain). The Upper Chamber (Legislative Council) was appointed by the Compact-friendly Governor and held veto power over bills passed by the freely elected Assembly. This power was routinely abused to stop the Assembly’s reform legislation that would benefit the farmers and ordinary citizens of the province. In this way the Compact kept all the best appointments and sinecures for themselves and controlled the banking system, to the detriment of debt-ridden farmers.

Meanwhile, below the border, many American politicians were calling for the annexation of Upper and Lower Canada, and some of those in the Assembly were a …

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Quick Hits: Historical Fiction for Tweens and Teens

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.

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The Hangman in the Mirror, by Kate Cayley

Genre: Young Adult (age 12+), Historical Fiction

Publisher: Annick Press

What It's About

Françoise Laurent has never had an easy life. The only surviving child of a destitute washerwoman and wayward soldier, she must rely only on herself to get by. When her parents die suddenly from the smallpox ravishing New France (modern-day Montreal), Françoise sees it as a chance to escape the life she thought she was trapped in.

Seizing her newfound opportunity, Françoise takes a job as an aide to the wife of a wealthy fur trader. The poverty-ridden world she knew transforms into a strange new world full of privilege and fine things—and of never having to beg for food. But Françoise’s relationships with the other servants in Madame Pommereau’s house are tenuous, and Madame Pommereau isn’t an easy woman to work for. When Françoise is caught stealing a pair of her mistress’s beautiful gloves, she faces a …

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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews 2016 Governor General's Award Winner Bill Waiser

Nonfiction_Waiser_Bill

We start our special coverage of this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winners with a conversation with Bill Waiser, author of A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905.

Of the book, the Governor General’s Award jury says, “From its first page, Bill Waiser’s A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905 surprises the reader with its reconsideration of Canada. In a sweeping blend of narrative, historical detail, and compelling images, Waiser refocuses the country’s story by putting Indigenous peoples and environmental concerns in the foreground.” 

Author and historian Bill Waiser specializes in western Canadian history. He has published over a dozen books—many of them recognized by various awards, including a shortlist nomination for the 1997 Governor General’s literary award for non-fiction. Bill is
 a frequent public speaker and contributor to radio, television, and print media. He has also served on a number of national, provincial, and local boards. Bill has been awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, named a distinguished university professor, and granted a D.Litt.

THE CHAT WITH BILL WAISER

How did your Governor General Award-winning book come into being?

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Raising Royalty: The Canadian History

Book Cover Raising Royalty

From keeping Vikings at bay to fending off paparazzi, Carolyn Harris—in her new book Raising Royaltyexplores the history of royal parenting and how its changes have reflected wider societal trends, and vice versa. In this guest post for us, she delves into the Canadian history of royal parenting, which includes a famous embrace, a Dutch princess born in Ottawa, and the wife of a Governor General...who happened to be Queen Victoria's daughter!  

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In September 2016, William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Victoria, British Columbia with their two young children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The royal children did not simply accompany their parents for a week in Canada but shaped the nature of the royal tour. With the exception of a single overnight in Whitehorse, Yukon, the royal couple’s itinerary allowed them to spend the evenings at the Lieutenant Governor’s residence in Victoria with their children. The royal children even undertook public engagements, appearing with their parents at the beginning and end of the tour and taking centre stage at a picnic for children of military families. The Canadian public admired the royal couple’s rapport with their children and images from the Canadian tour continue to appear in a …

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