Setting off on foot from Winchester, Ken Haigh hikes across southern England, retracing one of the traditional routes that medieval pilgrims followed to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Walking in honour of his father, a staunch Anglican who passed away before they could begin their trip together, Haigh wonders: Is there a place in the modern secular world for pilgrimage? On his journey, he sorts through his own spiritual aimlessness while crossing paths with writers like Anthony Trollope, John Keats, Jane Austen, Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens, and, of course, Geoffrey Chaucer. Part travelogue, part memoir, and part literary history, On Foot to Canterbury is engaging and delightful.
“My father didn’t need this walk, not the way I do. For him it would have been a fun way to spend some time with his son. He had, I begin to realize, a talent for living in the moment… Perhaps a pilgrimage would help me find happiness. Perhaps I could walk my way into a better frame of mind, and somehow along the road to Canterbury I would find a new purpose for my life. It was worth a shot.”
About the author
Ken Haigh is a graduate of Queen’s University and the University of Western Ontario, where he studied English literature, education, and library science. In 1987-89, he taught for two years in Khaling Valley in Eastern Bhutan. Ken has also taught in China and in the Canadian Arctic. He lives in Clarksburg, Ontario.
- Short-listed, Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
“We discover [Haigh’s] life long battle with depression, growing middle age angst, his tenuous relationship with his father and his drifting away from the Anglican Church of his youth…. A worthwhile read…[and] a brave book…”
"On Foot to Canterbury is a beautifully written and eloquent story that skillfully weaves historical anecdotes into a journey through rural England, leaving the reader with practical, sage advice on how to deal with loss and depression, but most of all, on how to live. Haigh’s eye to detail is a delight to read, as are his frequent musings on landscape and history. This subtle, moving story stays with you long after the book is finished."
Jury members, 2021 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction