Classic Canadian Christmas Reads

Curl up by the fire with these books to explore Canada past, present, and imagined

Is there such a thing as a uniquely Canadian Christmas? Curl up by the fire with these books to explore Canada past, present and imagined. Don’t forget your toque and hot cider!

To Every Thing There Is a Season: A Cape Breton Christmas Story by Alistair Macleod, illustrated by Peter Rankin

This story sets Christmas in a local and historical context, recounting Christmas and life on a Cape Breton farm in the 1940s through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy. The work that the boy’s brother does on lake boats in Ontario may have a particular resonance just now, as the Maritimes are once again experiencing a migration of workers heading west, even if Alberta and B.C. are now more common destinations. The sense of place is strong, as is almost always the case with Alistair Macleod’s work, and not a word is out of place. It’s a beautiful tale for almost all ages. (Just a slight warning: read through the story before buying for grandchildren, as the true nature of Santa is revealed and yours may not quite be ready for it.)

Sleds, Sleighs and Snow: A Canadian Christmas Carol by Anne Tempelman-Kluit (Editor)

The Canadian Christmas experience is filled with many different traditions: from horse-drawn sleigh rides around Mount Royal in Montreal to bittersweet dinners in isolated Yukon cabins. As new Canadians have arrived from around the world they’ve woven old traditions into the rich cultural tapestry of our diverse country. Sleds, Sleights and Snow captures Christmas celebrations through stories, poems, letters, newspaper clippings, and personal reminiscences from every province and territory and from peoples of many heritages. Antique cards and recipes also add to the collection. Contributors include Margaret Laurence, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Grey Owl, and Emily Carr.

An Orange from Portugal: Christmas Stories from the Maritimes and Newfoundland by Anne Simpson (Editor)

The Goose Lane Christmas anthologies are sorely missed – but fortunately this one, from 2003, is still available. From letters home by the wife of a sailing ship captain to brand-new fiction, memoirs, and poems, An Orange from Portugal spans more than a century of seasonal writing. Here are stories both salty and sweet by the likes of Charles G.D. Roberts, Lisa Moore, Wayne Johnston, and Joan Clark.

Canadian Christmas Traditions by DeeAnn Mandryk

This book brings together stories and history to explain the origins of many Canadian Christmas traditions. There are also recipes galore highlighting Canada’s two diversities – different cultural backgrounds, and different regional traditions. It’s a great read to begin to appreciate the depth of culture, faith, superstition, and celebration stretching back over thousands of years.

Christmas With Anne and Other Holiday Stories by L.M. Montgomery

Sentimental and charming, this collection of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s holiday stories, most published in magazines during the early 1900s, is a great gift for the “Anne-fan” or pre-teen. They harken back to a kinder, gentle Canada – one that perhaps mostly existed in the imagination, but isn’t that one of the best places to visit?

Home From The Vinyl Café by Stuart Mclean

It seems like no Canadian Christmas would be complete without the story of Dave’s turkey from CBC host Stuart Mclean. This collection of stories includes the Christmas classic and a few others that showcase a uniquely Canadian talent. The blend of humour and warmth just might get readers through a few holiday roadblocks of their own. There’s also a holiday CD available with performances of the show, but this book remains one of my favourites in the Vinyl Café series.