Off the Page

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

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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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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Anne Carson

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Anne Carson

By Trevor Corkum

“Norma Jeane Baker of Troy leverages a millennia-old story of beauty and war to animate a history of the male gaze and …

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Book Cover The Hunted

The Places We'll Go

By Roz Nay

Pack your fictional bags at your peril! A recommended reading list by Roz Nay, whose latest thriller is The Hunted.

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Book Cover Ontario Picnics

Ontario Picnics

By Lindy Mechefske

A celebration of dining in the outdoors from new book ONTARIO PICNICS.

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Back to School: New Books on Learning and Education

New books about the past, present, and future of education. 

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UBC: The Next Century, by Tyee Bridge

About the book: The University of British Columbia has become one of the world's leading institutions of higher learning and research. This beautifully produced book is a lively celebration of the university as it continues its pursuit of excellence and achievement in a rapidly changing world.

As the University of British Columbia enters its second century of existence, UBC: The Next Century celebrates the many accomplishments of this vibrant institution. Among the top universities in Canada and the world, UBC is known for its diverse student body, its groundbreaking research and its intimate ties to its surrounding community. Notable alumni include Canadian prime ministers and Supreme Court justices, Nobel laureates, Rhodes scholars, Olympians, and leaders in every field, from business to music to journalism to law.

Accompanied by a rich array of photographs, short articles by Tyee Bridge capture the people, places, and pursuits that animate UBC, from the athletic feats of the UBC Thunderbirds to research in quantum matter to campus traditions like Day of the LongBoat and Storm the Wall. UBC: The Next Century will inspire pride in past, present, and future members …

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Meditations on the Medicine Line: Naomi McIlwraith on Writing a Book at the Boundary Between English and Cree

Book Cover Kiyam

Historically, Aboriginal peoples called the 49th parallel the “Medicine Line” for its peculiar ability to stop American troops pursuing Natives heading north, so I find my current task to write a blog for the 49th Shelf about what it was like to write a single book in English and Cree a sweet and ticklish irony. I am a proud and defiant Canadian, yet I smile knowingly because language does not stop conveniently or obediently at an imaginary boundary. And the 49th parallel thrives in our minds’ eyes, so I appreciate the challenge to share my experience at the border between language and perception.

Twice this past week I approached a Cree-speaking person in my subconscious desire to bridge the deep chasm dividing Canada’s mainstream culture and Aboriginal people. That’s what I tried to do in writing the poems that form the collection kiyâm. I remember purposefully hefting this strangely abstract weight as if I could write all the wrongs of our collective Aboriginal history, as if I could convince all non-Aboriginal Canadians that they might take an interest in our First Nations and Métis history, as if I could convince all Aboriginal people that not all white Canadians are to blame. As if. How naïve I was to think that I could wield the political and s …

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My name is Phil Fontaine and I am a survivor

Book Cover A Knock at the Door

Phil Fontaine is a Survivor, TRC Honorary Witness, and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. He writes the Foreword to new book A Knock at the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools, by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, reproduced below.

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My name is Phil Fontaine and I am a survivor.

Survivor is a word that years ago I used in hushed tones to describe my experience at Indian Residential School. But that was then. I have now come to say the word louder and more imbued with pride with every passing year of my life. This year, “survivor” has reached a crescendo.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, and its findings, represents a historic moment for all survivors; for all Indigenous people everywhere. It is, I think, a historic moment for Canada, the significance of which rests in not only what has been, but also what is to come.

I cannot speak for every survivor—each of us has our own story—but we do have common characteristics. As survivors, we number in the thousands. But if you count our brothers and sisters who are no longer with us, we number in the hundreds of thousands, possibly many more. All of us, the living and the dead, endured the effects of a policy that sought transformation—transform …

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Forest Prairie Edge: Place History in Saskatchewan

Book Cover Forest Prairie Edge

In her new book, Forest Prairie Edge, Merle Massie offers readers a rethinking of Saskatchewan, a province whose "prairie" designation simplifies the reality of its geography, history and culture. She examines the space in between the boreal forests of Northern Saskatchewan and the prairies of the south in order to imagine a refreshing new perspective on the province and Canada's West. In this guest piece for 49th Shelf, she tells how her own history influenced the book she would write, and also introduces us to the word "stumpranch." 

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I grew up on a forest fringe stump ranch farm near Paddockwood, Saskatchewan, north of Prince Albert. A stump ranch or stump farm, if you’ve never heard the term, is a farm cut out of the trees: the joke is that you mostly farm stumps instead of crops or animals. Just a few miles from the Northern Provincial Forest in Saskatchewan, our weeds tended to be poplar trees, and our cows would sometimes be found grazing next to a herd of elk or the odd moose or jumper. The farm wasn’t sprawling or prosperous like those on the prairies, but it had wood for the old Valley Comfort stove in the basement, the Garden River running through it for evening canoe rides and trapping, and it nestled in the centre of the northern Lakeland cott …

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#LookItUp: Knowledge Matters

In his keynote to the annual conference of the Association of American University Presses in June, veteran journalist Dan Rather declared that “we all must be … vigilant in renewing our compact with books and deep thoughts.… [University presses] offer the antidote to alternative facts and the assault on reason, and do it authoritatively and elegantly.”

Canadian university presses, with their counterparts in the United States, celebrate University Press Week annually in November to “highlight the extraordinary work of nonprofit scholarly publishers and their many contributions to culture, the academy, and an informed society.” This year’s theme, which resonates in an era of “fake news” and “alternate facts,” is #LookItUp: Knowledge Matters, a tag that asks us to value the expertise and knowledge of our authors and publishing partners.

We asked presses to nominate a title they wished to highlight for this week, and the responses were as varied as you might expect. From a history of snack foods in Canada to the examination of Alberta’s changing “brand,” the list of books illustrates the contribution of Canadian university presses to our national body of knowledge. University press books are available wherever books are sold. Why not pick one up today?

To keep up with news and events, including the annual blog tour, follow @aaupresses and the hash tags #ReadUp and #LookItUp on Twitter.

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