Saskatchewan Books

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Saskatchewan Books

aug 18, 2009, 10:57 am

This is a thread for listing and discussing books with a Saskatchewan setting.

Redigeret: aug 18, 2009, 11:17 pm

I have to list Owls in the Family because Owls rock.

sep 18, 2009, 1:57 pm

The Gail Bowen mysteries (featuring Joanne Kilbourn) are set in Saskatchewan. I believe that there are 11 of these, so far.

Years ago, I read the first one, Deadly Appearances, and enjoyed that one. I need to track down the second in the series, Murder at the Mendel.

sep 20, 2009, 4:13 pm

I haven't actually read any of his books - yet - but I hear that Guy Vanderhaeghe is an extraordinary writer. The Last Crossing is his most well-known. He's been on my tbr list for a while now, so this group may just be the push I need for a next read!

sep 20, 2009, 8:42 pm

The Last Crossing is on my TBR list too, but I recently picked up a copy of Lost Geography by Charlotte Bacon (set partly in Saskatchewan) that also looks interesting and I think I may read that one first.

okt 29, 2009, 5:55 pm

A Song for Nettie Johnson is a very good book of short stories, all interconnected and taking place in Saskatchewan. I would never have heard of this book if not for the wise RWG - thank you for letting me read it first :)

feb 19, 2011, 4:31 pm

I managed to pick up two Saskatchewan books while showing my mother around town!
Peace Shall Destroy Many is about Mennonites who flee Russia to settle on Saskatchewan farms. 'Conflicts between the disciplined, peaceful dedication of their thriving community and the increasingly powerful threats and challenges of the war torn world of 1944'.

North to Cree Lake looks like a really good book, especially if you liked Lost in the Barrens. "In the autumn of 1932, two brothers left the comfort of home to spend the next seven winters deep in the wilds of northern Saskatchewan as professional trappers". For those who know Sask, the cover states that the author lives in Nipawin.

Redigeret: feb 19, 2011, 4:36 pm

Also Cool Water is a Saskatchewan book that is fairly easy to find right now.

feb 20, 2011, 8:02 am

Thanks for all the Saskatchewan recommendations, Bcteagirl! I'll also add Small Beneath the Sky, the memoirs of Lorna Crozier, here.

feb 25, 2011, 2:34 pm

BCteaGirl - I really enjoyed Peace Shall Destroy Many when I finally got around to reading it. However, I pulled a blank on the controversial aspects of the book. The author, Rudy Wiebe, was the editor of a major Mennonite magazine at the time of publication and as a result of his book, he was asked to resign. I don't get it, myself.

apr 8, 2011, 1:08 am

I recently picked up a copy of Good to Fault which is also set in Saskatchewan. A woman hits a car with a family in it. They are ok, but while they are being checked out at the hospital, the mother is diagnosed with Leukemia, so Clara volunteers to help the family and becomes involved in their lives.

maj 19, 2011, 6:43 pm

Mennonites Don't Dance by Darcie Friesen Hossack is a fabulous book of short stories that take place in Saskatchewan.

jun 15, 2011, 12:36 pm

7: North to Cree Lake just went on the wishlist as it sounds like a good one.

jun 19, 2011, 4:07 pm

13: Glad to help! I found one other book at a garage sale while I was in Saskatchewan that we can add to the list:
We Swept Cornflakes out the Door: The adventures of a prairie family looks to be a story biography of a family in early Saskatchewan.

okt 15, 2012, 12:07 pm

I just read We Swept the Cornflakes out the Door by Edith Hewson--very enjoyable book.

feb 3, 2014, 10:03 pm

14 & 15. Cute title!

I'm thinking of an old one. I think it was set in Saskatchewan, yes?

Why Shoot the Teacher / Max Braithwaite

Redigeret: feb 3, 2014, 10:05 pm

And a couple more suggestions:
Perfection of the Morning / Sharon Butala
The Girl in Saskatoon / Sharon Butala

feb 4, 2014, 7:34 pm

Just wanted to point out that we have a Wiki now where folks can add books that match a location. You'll find the fiction one here: The non-fiction one is here:

We set up these threads as prep for the GeoCAT over in the category challenge to help folks out, but we hope that people will remember to add things at least periodically to them. If an entire series matches it, you can find the series page and link it.

feb 4, 2014, 10:58 pm

18. Cool! Thanks!

jun 9, 2014, 4:39 pm

Mennonites Don't Dance, by Darcie Friesen Hossack is a collection of short stories set in rural Saskatchewan around the Swift Currant area.

jul 4, 2017, 11:49 pm

Cool Water / Dianne Warren
4 stars

Juliet is a small town (just over 1,000 people) in Southern Saskatchewan, near Swift Current. This book follows some of the town residents (and local farmers) for one day. We meet Lee, who has taken over his “family” farm (we learn early on, that Lester and Astrid were not his biological parents); Norval, the town banker, whose daughter, just out of high school, is pregnant and is getting married… neither she nor her fiance are particularly responsible; Blaine, whose farm has failed and he is having trouble making ends meet for him and his family, including six children; and more.

I really enjoyed this. I grew up in a small town/farming community in Southern Sask, and loved reading about the area, though this town was meant to be (I believe it’s a fictional town) just north of the Trans-Canada highway by the sand dunes, whereas I lived a ways south of the highway. Either way, it’s not fast-paced, but I was drawn in and interested in the characters, anyway. It actually reminded me a bit of Kent Haruf’s books and his small town characters. It does switch between characters quite frequently, but – for the most part – I was able to fairly quickly figure out who was who and whose perspective we were getting each time.

mar 23, 2018, 11:45 pm

Small Beneath the Sky / Lorna Crozier
3.5 stars

Lorna Crozier is a poet. She was born in 1948 and grew up in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. This tells of her life, much of it during her childhood. Her family didn’t have a lot of money and her father was an alcoholic.

I liked this. I wasn’t sure at first, as there are short chapters that just seem descriptive, which I guess shows more of her poetic side, but those sections didn’t interest me nearly as much as her life stories. I grew up in Southern Sask, and my dad grew up in Swift Current, so it’s always fun to read about places you know. It’s a short book, and she did skip over a lot of stuff. Overall, though, I did enjoy the parts about her life and the familiar places.

okt 16, 2018, 12:00 am

The Anatomy of Edouard Beaupre / Sarah Kathryn York
4 stars

Edouard Beaupre was born in 1881; he was Metis and was the first child born in the small Southern Saskatchwan settlement of Willow Bunch (which happens to be about an hour from where I grew up). He died in 1904 at the age of 23; he was 8’4” and still growing. He spent parts of his adult life as a giant and strongman in travelling sideshows and circuses. Where the story actually starts and ends is with a doctor who is studying his corpse.

I knew of Edouard Beaupre when I was younger, but knew him as the “Willow Bunch Giant”; I don’t remember if I knew his name when I was younger. There is a museum in Willow Bunch that I have been to, once about 15 years ago. I was very interested to find this book about him. I think I initially thought it was a biography, but it’s actually fiction, but it sounds like a lot of research went into it and so it sounds like most of it is probably fairly accurate. I found it very interesting and a little bit sad, for him.

jul 12, 2019, 4:11 pm

Who Has Seen the Wind / W.O. Mitchell
3 stars

Brian is a boy growing up in Saskatchewan in the 1930s. He lives with his parents, a younger brother, and his grandmother, whom he hates! The book starts when Brian is (I think) 4-years old and continues until he is 11 (I think).

It was ok. Pretty slow-moving, as nothing big really happens. It was just things that happened in his life as he was growing up. I grew up in Southern Sask (though in the 70s and 80s!), but “recognized” some of the small town prairie happenings (i.e. (sadly) kids trying to get gopher tails; luckily, I never saw it, just heard about it). Overall, it was ok.

jul 16, 2019, 1:39 pm

Owls in the Family / Farley Mowat
3.75 stars

Billy has a collection of animals as pets, including gophers, snakes, rats… He and a couple of friends decide they want an owl, so go looking to steal one from a nest, but instead find an injured baby owl and bring him home. They later come across a second injured one, and bring him home for company for Wol, the first owl. The two owls are very different in personality, but they both seem to not realize they are owls who can fly and do other things owls can do.

This was so short; I wish it had been longer. I felt terrible when I thought Billy was going to bring home an owl by stealing it out of a nest! There were plenty of humourous stories about Wol and Weeps. I am curious if Mowat actually had owls as pets.

aug 6, 2019, 12:30 am

A Geography of Blood / Candace Savage
4 stars

This starts off as a memoir. The author and her husband come across the town of Eastend, Saskatchewan, near Cypress Hills on their travels back home to Saskatoon from the U.S. They initially stayed for 2 weeks on vacation, but were drawn to the town enough to buy a house and live there part-time. While there, the author wrote about the landscape, the dinosaur history and the T-Rex Centre that is there, then started looking into the more recent history of the First Nations people who were there, but were driven off the land in the late 19th century once the white settlers started arriving. The last half of the book looks at the First Nations history of the area.

I probably would have given this 3.5 stars (good), except that I grew up only a couple of hours from Eastend, and have been there a few times. I can picture Eastend, the T-Rex Centre, Cypress Hills, the surrounding land, the ghost towns nearby that were mentioned... I’m sure I also once (though I didn’t remember it) learned the history of Chimney Coulee and the Cypress Hills Massacre. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to Chimney Coulee and can also picture that in my head. Good book, sad stuff about the First Nations people and everything that happened, but important to learn about.

sep 3, 2019, 11:16 pm

Upstream / Sharon Butala
3.5 stars

Chloe is ½ French and ½ English, and she grew up in Saskatchewan. When her husband heads to Scotland to work on his PhD, she discovers he has been having an affair. Not knowing what to do about her marriage, she travels for a bit with a friend, then heads to her father’s French town in Sask. for a while. While there, she learns about being French in Saskatchewan and comes across her grandmother’s diary.

Unfortunately, there were no likable characters in this book. That almost brought my rating down to 3 stars (ok). However, I got much more interested in the second half of the book when Chloe started reading her grandmother’s diary – about having to move from Quebec to Saskatchewan and starting over in an English province (though in a French town). I am not French, but I grew up in a small, primarily French, town in Saskatchewan, so I found this really interesting: the history of the Fransaskois (French-Saskatchewanians). The town this was set in was not near the town I grew up in, but it was close to Batoche, famous for the battle during the Rebellion where Louis Riel was defeated.

sep 9, 2019, 5:19 pm

Song of Batoche by Maia Caron
4.5 stars

All Canadians learn about the second Riel rebellion in Saskatchewan and yet I never felt that I understood the motivations for it. This book fills in all the gaps plus gives us the point of view of a woman in the midst of it. I thought it was really well done.

sep 9, 2019, 9:59 pm

>28 gypsysmom: Oooh, that sounds interesting...

aug 14, 2021, 6:17 pm

The Horseman's Graves / Jacqueline Baker
2.5 stars

This is set near the Sand Hills in Saskatchewan near the Alberta border. It starts in 1909, but quickly moves on to the next generation. I wouldn’t have known it from the story, but the majority of the farmers living nearby are German immigrants, (I think) via Russia.

All these things should have been more interesting to me with a German (via Russia) family background, and I grew up in Southern Sask and have been to the Sand Hills.

I feel like 2.5 might even be a bit generous. There was one storyline that was (somewhat) interesting, but mostly this was boring. I wasn’t all that interested, and I was confused by who some of the characters were and how they related to the story. Well, they were all in the same town/area, but otherwise… Drove me nuts the one character was simply called “the boy”. Seriously? He doesn’t have a name? Come on!

dec 13, 2021, 10:11 pm

Canada / Richard Ford
3 stars

In 1960, 15-year old Dell and his twin sister, Berner, are effectively “orphaned” when their parents are arrested for robbing a bank in North Dakota. Berner runs away and a family friend takes Dell over the Canadian border to a small town in Saskatchewan to live with and work for her brother.

The first paragraph sets things up, telling the reader of the bank robbery and also about murders, still to come. So, it starts with a “bang”, but after that, the book moves pretty slowly. That being said, I grew up in Southern Saskatchewan and thought the descriptions were very well done. It’s also always fun to recognize places, and there were a few really small towns mentioned nearby to where I lived. Overall, I’m considering this one “ok”.

dec 22, 2021, 9:22 pm

How Hard Can it Be? / Peter Wiebe, Diana Cruchley
3 stars

This is anecdotes of Peter Wiebe’s life, as told by him to his daughter. He was a Mennonite born in Saskatchewan and later lived in British Columbia. There was nothing extraordinary about his life, but his daughter wanted his memories to be written.

Peter Wiebe was a great-uncle of mine. I don’t believe Dad ever met him. The “stories” (more anecdotes, as they range from one paragraph to five or six, mostly) are ok. They are in Peter’s words, exactly; Diana did not edit them. They are not arranged chronologically, but each chapter is a topic. There is info about Canadian Prairie history, Mennonites in Western Canada, and life in general throughout the 20th century. Given that names are often reused in Mennonite families, the names were often familiar to me, even though they they weren’t people I actually know. And I “recognized” some of the situations and stories told, as similar to other situations and stories that I’ve heard in my family. There are photos included, and any info inserted by Diana is included in the captions to the photos, as well as a short introduction.

dec 22, 2021, 10:42 pm

>32 LibraryCin: I'd read that. My mum was a Wiebe

dec 23, 2021, 1:41 am

>33 Nickelini: Oh, cool! (I am also a Wiebe and never been married, so that is Dad's last name, as well.) I think it was self-published, so not sure how easy it is to get your hands on it. I borrowed it from Mom and Dad and they are now impatient to get it back, as I've had a too long!

jan 21, 2022, 10:14 pm

Ghost Stories of Saskatchewan 3 / Jo-Anne Christensen
4 stars

This is the third book of Saskatchewan ghost stories written by this author. This one had a few chapters that were a bit different, though. In addition to the ghost stories from around the province, she interviewed a few groups of ghost hunters based in Saskatchewan.

This had me scared enough – when reading by myself at night – to not head down to the basement after reading, before bed, to scoop the cat’s litter box down there! The chapters on the ghost hunters was unexpected, but surprisingly interesting. Although (sadly), none of the ghost stories were really near where I grew up, I quite liked this one.

sep 8, 2022, 9:24 pm

Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont
4 stars

Interconnected short stories about four young Indigenous people who make life off their reserves in Saskatchewan. Good writing although the first few stories had so much drinking and partying that I wondered if they were ever going to do anything other than that.

dec 4, 2022, 11:07 pm

Fountaineville / C. A. Simonsen
3 stars

In the late 1950s, Davis is the youngest of four (living) siblings in a rural area on the Prairies (Saskatchewan, I think). His oldest brother died in Korea. His only sister, Gracie (whom he is closest to) is dating the local minister’s son. He has two twin brothers. Davis is 11/12 years old, I believe. There is an older neighbour whose yard Davis passes by every day who intrigues him. But Davis sees something very unusual (and a bit scary for him) one day. Davis spent a lot of time with the elderly people in town (a “witch” he met who was telling a “story with a story”, as well as some of the men at the local Legion Hall), while at the same time dealing with things happening at home.

This was ok. I rarely enjoy stories within the main story. This one took up a lot of the book, and I ended up skimming through much of it (the story within, that is). Of course, it did mean something in the end. I found the family issues more interesting than either the additional story or the time spent with the older people.

jan 4, 2023, 11:07 pm

She moved to Vancouver for a while and I think she lived in Alberta, as well, but she started in Saskatchewan, so I'm putting the book here.

Halfbreed / Maria Campbell
3 stars

The author grew up in Saskatchewan; she is Metis (or “halfbreed” is the word she uses: part Cree (indigenous), and part European), descended from Gabriel Dumont. Her family was poor and she never really got out of the poverty, even as she married, had kids, moved to B.C. and Alberta, etc. She also ended up drinking, doing drugs… I think prostitution, too, but (unless I missed it), she only hinted at it.

I maybe made a mistake in listening to the audio. Maria herself read it, but she has a very monotone voice. I thought that I was still able to focus in the first half or so of the book, but I did miss things as the book continued, and I suspect I missed more earlier in the book than I originally thought.

mar 1, 2023, 10:35 pm

Chief Piapot: I Will Stop the Train / Vincent McKay.
3.5 stars

In the late 19th century, Chief Piapot lived, mostly in Southern Saskatchewan (or what became such), through the coming of guns, the extinction of the buffalo, white man coming to take the land, the NWMP (North-West Mounted Police) coming, and the train coming to the West. He liaised between the Assiniboine, Cree, Sioux, and Blackfoot peoples. He knew a few languages (including French and English) and negotiated with the Canadian government for the treaties.

I grew up in Southern Saskatchewan, so I recognized names of places that had been named after some of the people (including a town called Piapot), and I recognized names of people who were historically in the area (Sitting Bull probably being the most well-known, and Gabriel Dumont made a few appearances). It appears the author did a lot of good research and seems to have portrayed him well. I have to say the end was pretty exciting, when Piapot really did stop the train!

mar 4, 2023, 11:09 pm

The Wagoner / C.A. Simonsen
3.25 stars

It’s the late 19th century. Ott has lost his grandfather and he had promised to take his body to rest with his grandmother somewhere in the Plains of the U.S. He takes his old mule, Sir Lucien, who has to pull the wagon with the coffin and they set out from (what would later become) Southern Saskatchewan to likely somewhere in South Dakota to deliver his grandfather. He bumbles his way along and meets many characters on the way there and back, including picking up a dog.

To be honest, I was bored through the first third or so of the book. For some reason, the way to drop off his grandfather just didn’t peak my interest at all. But it picked up and got better for me as the book continued on, when Ott first ended up at a brothel as he turned around to head home.

From there, he continued on and met up with various Indigenous peoples, Metis, a thief, a runaway slave from Louisiana (though technically free, her master didn’t seem to agree), and more. And it was harsh, travelling back on foot and by mule (by the way home, his wagon had disintegrated). I think his concern for his animals helped pull me in, eventually, too. It’s another book where (being originally from Southern Saskatchewan), I did recognize some place and people names, which is always kind of fun.

jun 16, 2023, 11:06 pm

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be / Farley Mowat
3.5 stars

In the 1930s, Farley Mowat and his parents moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They wanted a dog. His father wanted a hunting dog, but since that was too expensive, his mother just bought a dog a little boy was selling for cheap door-to-door. They called him Mutt. This book includes stories that mostly focus on Mutt.

Actually my favourite chapter was the one with the two owls (Mowat used those owls in his fictional kids’ story, “Owls in the Family”). The book was more like short stories, but that’s ok. Mutt was a character. A lot of people seem to consider this a children’s book, but I didn’t think it read that way. A boy and his dog, sure. I suppose that would appeal, but it didn’t seem particularly written for kids. I’m rating it good.

okt 24, 2023, 10:42 pm

A Book in Every Hand: Public Libraries in Saskatchewan / Don Kerr
3.5 stars

This is a history of public libraries in Saskatchewan, with a focus on the regional library system that helped bring books and libraries to rural areas. Saskatchewan once had one of the worst library systems in the country, but it made real efforts to bring it up to one of the best (according to the author and the stats he interpreted).

It doesn’t sound like a super-exciting read, and probably for a lot of people, it may not be. It is probably more of interest to librarians and/or people from Saskatchewan who use or once used their public/regional libraries. I am both a librarian and I grew up in rural Saskatchewan and used our local branch of the Chinook Regional Library. I did find it interesting (mostly) to read about how the different regional systems were formed, the politics, etc. There were a lot of stats and economics included, as well, which all sounds not overly exciting, but it’s written in an accessible way. I did recognize a couple of names, even. Overall, I’m rating this good, but it’s likely to appeal to a pretty specialized audience.