Oh dear - we really loved Will Ferguson's book on hiking Japan "The Hokaido Highway" and were looking forward to reading this but, just 25 pages in and we couldn't read any more - it was just so deadly dull. I wanted to hear the tales of him travelling around Canada meeting people - the characters he met and the interesting things he visited. All I got was a long and boring description of all of the places and their histories. Maybe it gets better later in the book but it was like walking through very dull treacle and I haven't got enough time in my life to read any more of it. Sorry Will but not a hit for me!
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I enjoyed this book and learned a lot from informative narratives - particularly the potential cessation of Quebec from Canada and the history of freed slaves in Canada. I also enjoyed Will Ferguson's writing style. However the downsides of this book for me are as follows:
a). Although I liked his writing, the writer often rambled too long in a place (such as the Irish in Newfoundland) and spent too long going over the same thing over and over again. b). Related to the point above - I would have preferred the writer to have visited additional places instead of spending long periods in one area going into every boring detail. This got tedious after a while. c). the maps were poor. Although you saw a close up map of the places he visited - the maps showing the area in the context of the whole of Canada were poor and way too small. d). travelling with his family was mixed. With his brothers and niece it was interesting but with his wife and kids - again it started to get tedious. Readers are generally not interested in his baby's toilet habits or his wife moaning.
Having loved his travel book on Japan, 'Hokkaido Highway Blues', I was interested to see if Will Ferguson's candid humour, (particularly disarming in relation to culture shock) would translate well to his writing about his home country. I think it does. Unlike 'Hokkaido' - this is not a single journey or a linear narrative, really, it's a series of chapters on low profile areas of Canada, like Hudson Bay, and Moose Jaw. It's definitely more of a 'dip into' book - because here is a fair amount of autobiographical detail and local history in some chapters. Reading the chapters in succession is good as well though, because some of the later chapters refer to historical events which he mentions earlier in the book. These details are a nice complement to his own observations, which are sometimes laugh out loud funny. On balance, I prefer his book on Japan by a small margin, which would get 6 stars from me! This is still very much worth a read. 5 stars.
A must read if you have been to / travelled in Canada. This is a humorous look at Canada when you step off the main tourist trail. However, it manages to take a serious look at the history and development of Canada, as the author travels from the west coast to the east.
This book arrived this morning in the mail. I started reading it with my morning coffee, and by the time I stopped for a break, my coffee was cold!
This book is such fun, and so easy to read. Being British, I found the connections between Canada and Britain interesting. Ferguson is as humourous as he is insightful. I'd previously enjoyed his other book "How to be a Canadian", and purchased this on the back of that book's humour, and I wasn't let down.
Anyone with an interest in travel, Canada or even British Colonial history should purchase this book today!
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