Canada Reads – about Queensborough

Gérard Dicks Pellerin a-1640xlpc06513512-01-04You may well have heard the lineup for the 2013 edition of CBC’s Canada Reads event, in which five Canadian novels are pitted against each other in “the battle of the books.” Each one gets a champion to speak for its virtues in a series of debates, and eventually one will be chosen the winner. The general idea is to get Canadians reading Canadian literature.

So what does this have to do with the Manse, and Queensborough? Well, I’ll tell you: the entry representing Ontario is Jane Urquhart‘s novel Away – and Queensborough has a role in it! So if Canadians do what Canada Reads is trying to get them to do, a whole lot of people will come across the mention of our historic little village.

It’s been a long time since I read Away, back when it was newly published in 1993 and was making a very big splash. And I have been unable to lay my hands on a copy that I believe I still have. But I remember being delighted when I read it to discover that part of the action takes place near Queensborough, which is actually named; it’s called “a rough village” – which I suppose it was in the 1850s.

(Another place I know well, Port Hope, also plays itself in the novel. Ms. Urquhart’s family has roots in Northumberland County, and I have enjoyed meeting her there once or twice.)

Anyway, I figure that with Queensborough in it, Away should be a slam dunk as this year’s winner. (But for the record, the competition is Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan (a real old chestnut, that one), February by Lisa Moore, and The Age of Hope by David Bergen. The champions are debating the books Feb. 11 to 14 on CBC Radio One, so perhaps you’d like to tune in and cheer on “our” entry!

9 thoughts on “Canada Reads – about Queensborough

  1. ‘Away’ is my most absolute favourite Canadian novel. I’m with you Katherine, a slam dunk to be sure, in a stellar line-up for a great Canadian literary brawl (probably the wrong time to be mixing metaphors…).

    • It’s excellent news that none other than historian and writer Charlotte Gray is the champion for Away. And given that the book was published 20 years ago, it will be terrific if this publicity encourages a whole new generation of readers to discover it.

  2. Love this novel and the rest of Jane’s works. Actually used this novel as part of an independant study in highschool.

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