DREAMSCAPES Spring/Summer 2017
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TRAVEL SLEUTH - ENRICHED BY LITERARY WORKS
 
(2017 - Spring/Summer Issue)

Writer: JANE STOKES



A little Canadian fiction based on facts could stop you in your tracks.

Canadian stories told by Canadian writers are even more gripping when the storyline unfolds in places we get to see with our own eyes. Even though a good novel, biography, short story or verse can be highly enjoyable for armchair adventurers, just think of the special connections you make when given the chance to walk right into them as well.

Wilderness hiking, for instance, might be more meaningful this summer in light of Farley Mowat’s activism for the natural environment. The Celtic soul of Cape Breton will certainly linger longer if we first read Alistair MacLeod`s novel No Great Mischief or Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Fall on Your Knees. The next Winnipeg experience might introduce you to Mennonite lifestyles as told by novelist Miriam Toews. And in this 150th year of Confederation, why not see Prince Edward Island in the company of Lucy Maud Montgomery or explore Southern Ontario’s cottage country through the eyes of Stephen Leacock?

Canadian storytelling continues to enrich our homeland travel with unusual perspectives. Here are a few more favourites:

BUCHANS, NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

As inspired by Michael Crummey

In the trust and authenticity of a local son, we come to a better understanding of Newfoundland’s isolation where the harsh realities of everyday life mix with the levity of those Irish ancestors rising up from beneath the soil. Delve into such tales by Michael Crummey in his Flesh and Blood short stories, in his novel Galore, and in Sweetland, and you may notice the fictional mining community of Black Rock strongly resembles the actual town of Buchans, the author’s birthplace. Buchans is located on the waterways of interior Newfoundland, a remote region shared with visitors usually heading to the west coast or northbound to Gros Morne National Park and L’Anse aux Meadows. But don’t drive through Buchans too quickly. Every summer the town salutes its long mining history during the Lucky Strike Festival, and every five years, including 2017, countless sons and daughters show up for the lively Come Home Year reunion. NewfoundlandLabrador.com

MONTRÉAL, QUÉBEC 

As inspired by Leonard Cohen

His body and mind did indeed wander far and wide, but it was only Montréal, he said, that could give him the deepest feelings of home. For Leonard Cohen, Montréal was “the city of his birth and the cradle of his longings,” observes feature writer, Robert Everett-Green. His longings? Take a look at the manhood-building escapades in Cohen’s first novel, The Favourite Game. And, his family home was on Avenue Belmont not far from the park on old Murray Hill where a short walk connected him each weekend to the core of his Jewish faith at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim. That, however, likely clashed with his weekdays as a teenager at the all-faith Westmount High School where varying Christian rituals must have toyed with Leonard Cohen’s questioning consciousness. “The Stranger Song” is one vivid example of that, and so is “Suzanne.” Women were a longing too, it would appear. We understand his girlfriend Marianne spent time at the Belmont home, and when it comes to “Suzanne,” insiders have always known that her place near the river was exactly where the boats go by in the harbour of Old Montréal. tourisme-montreal.org

WOLFE ISLAND, ONTARIO

As inspired by J.D. Reid

Anyone who reads The Girl on the Ferry before visiting Wolfe Island in the waterways of southeastern Ontario may easily fall into dreamy reminders of the novel’s three main characters, their riveting conversations, their puzzling triangle—and you will definitely think about it on the 20-minute ferry crossing from Kingston. In the story (which also takes us to Niagara-on-the-Lake), Freya had been hiding her romantic feelings for her best friend Leslie until one particular ferry crossing when this strident fellow Marshall appeared and could not take his eyes off Leslie. Those few minutes rocked all three of their lives. The 29-kilometre-long Wolfe Island—with three marked bicycle trails—is one of the 1000 Islands, an eye-popping archipelago in Lake Ontario where the St. Lawrence River begins. With his clear esteem for the great outdoors, J.D. Reid takes us sailing with his characters from Marysville, out into Barrett Bay and then eastward on the glistening river past so many islands of complete serenity, one could easily get the craving to swim from one to the next. So what about that girl on the ferry? Of all nature’s mysteries, the author does hint that he finds the human mind and heart to be the most interesting, but the most perplexing of all. visit1000islands.com

TORONTO, ONTARIO

As inspired by Margaret Atwood

Toronto neighbourhoods pulsate across 630 square kilometres in which one timeless culture meets the next, totalling as many as 230 different nationalities—a guarantee that, at the very least, we will always find something tantalizing to eat. Included is the Victorian period-village of Yorkville, an eclectic collection of upscale restaurants and retailers in fashion, fine arts, food, music and home decor. Whatever happened, however, to its minimalist appeal? Go back in time to see. In Margaret Atwood’s early novel Cat’s Eye, we venture into the 1960s coffeehouse beat scene of Yorkville, a nonconformist hub which nurtured the young Atwood and fellow artists like Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. Toronto’s big shoulders of diversity are evident in all of Atwood’s home-based novels, which take us to Chinatown, Spadina Avenue’s clothing trade, the boutiques and bookshops along Queen Street, and the performing arts district of King Street West where Margaret Atwood’s most worthy star is embedded in the concrete sidewalk of the Royal Alexandra Theatre. SeeTorontoNow.com

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA

As inspired by Marjorie Celona

For thousands of Canadians, the day just can’t begin without a good exercise routine at their local YMCA-YWCA, fondly called the Y. But if you arrive before the doors open, your eyes may land on the unexpected. In Marjorie Celona’s novel Y, a newborn baby is discovered by a young man waiting at the Victoria facility, a mystery that proceeds to trace the restless spirit of foundling, Shannon, who is driven to find out why. In 2012, this novel was long-listed for a Scotiabank Giller Prize, an honour which also sparked renewed interest in the countless charms of coastal Victoria. Celona fans say they enjoy walking in Shannon’s shoes as they explore the beach along Dallas Road and find themselves just a little more interested in places like Christ Church Cathedral, the Traveller’s Inn, Victoria High School, Thompson’s Foam Shop, and even busy Broughton Street where every day begins at the Y. TourismVictoria.com

 
 
 
 
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