Reading List of Canadian History Books – 2024 Update

If you’re looking to deepen your understanding of Canada’s rich and diverse history, look no further than these 20 must-read books on Canadian history. From captivating narratives of the country’s early settlements to in-depth analyses of key historical events, these books offer a comprehensive and engaging look at the past of the Great White North. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about Canada’s story, these books are sure to enlighten and entertain.

20 Best Books About Canadian History

The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914

by Margaret MacMillan

The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan is a fascinating exploration of the political and social landscape leading up to World War I. This insightful book on Canadian history delves into the complex web of alliances, rivalries, and ideologies that ultimately culminated in one of the most devastating conflicts in human history. MacMillan skillfully examines the key players, diplomatic maneuvers, and the prevailing attitudes of the time, shedding light on the series of events that led to the outbreak of war. Through meticulous research and compelling storytelling, she paints a vivid picture of the tensions and miscalculations that shaped the prelude to the Great War. For anyone interested in a thought-provoking book about Canadian history or a deeper understanding of global politics in the early 20th century, The War that Ended Peace is an indispensable read.

The Orenda

by Joseph Boyden

The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden, is a compelling book on Canadian history that delves into the complex relationships between the Indigenous people and the European settlers in 17th century Canada. Through the perspectives of three main characters – a Huron warrior, a Jesuit missionary, and a young Iroquois girl – the novel explores the clash of cultures, the impact of colonization, and the struggle for survival in a rapidly changing world. Boyden masterfully weaves together themes of Canadian history, spirituality, and the human condition, creating a rich and immersive narrative that transports readers to a pivotal period in North American history. The Orenda is a powerful and thought-provoking book about Canadian history that offers a unique and nuanced perspective on the early interactions between Indigenous and European societies in Canada.

The Birth House

by Ami McKay

The Birth House by Ami McKay is a captivating book on Canadian history that takes readers on a journey through the early 20th century in rural Nova Scotia. The story follows Dora Rare, a young midwife who becomes the center of controversy as modern medicine begins to overshadow traditional birthing practices. Through Dora’s experiences, readers are immersed in the rich history of Canadian midwifery and the struggle for women’s rights. McKay’s vivid storytelling and well-researched historical details bring to life the challenges and triumphs of women in a changing society. The Birth House is a compelling and thought-provoking book about Canadian history that sheds light on the often overlooked role of midwives and the complexities of women’s healthcare in the early 1900s.

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams

by Wayne Johnston

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston is a captivating book about Canadian history that delves into the life of Joey Smallwood, the controversial and influential political figure who played a crucial role in Newfoundland joining Canada. Set against the backdrop of the rugged Newfoundland landscape, this novel weaves a tale of ambition, love, and the complexities of nationhood. Johnston’s rich prose and vivid storytelling bring to life the struggles and triumphs of Smallwood, as well as the political and social dynamics of Newfoundland during a pivotal time in Canadian history. The novel offers a unique and compelling perspective on the challenges and sacrifices involved in shaping a nation, making it a must-read for anyone interested in the intricacies of Canadian history.

The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885

by Pierre Berton

The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885 by Pierre Berton is a fascinating book on Canadian history that delves into the incredible story of the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Berton skillfully weaves together the political, economic, and human elements that shaped this monumental project, offering a comprehensive look at one of the most significant developments in Canadian history. Through vivid storytelling and meticulous research, the author brings to life the challenges, triumphs, and controversies surrounding the building of the railway, from the backbreaking labor of the workers to the high-stakes negotiations between government officials and railway tycoons. Readers will be captivated by the larger-than-life characters, the engineering marvels, and the societal impact of this transformative endeavor. The Last Spike is a must-read for anyone interested in a riveting book about Canadian history that showcases the indomitable spirit of a nation on the brink of change.

The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed

by John Vaillant

The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Vaillant is a captivating non-fiction book on Canadian history that delves into the mysterious and tragic tale of the felling of the Golden Spruce, a rare and revered tree sacred to the Haida people of British Columbia. Vaillant skillfully weaves together the history of the Haida, the logging industry, and the enigmatic figure behind the destruction of the iconic tree, exploring the complex relationship between humanity and the natural world. The book offers a compelling exploration of the intersection of myth, environmental activism, and the destructive forces of greed, making it a must-read for anyone interested in the intricate layers of Canadian history and the impact of human actions on the environment.

The Promise of Canada: 150 Years–People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country

by Charlotte Gray

The Promise of Canada by Charlotte Gray is a comprehensive book on Canadian history that takes readers on a journey through the last 150 years of the country’s development. Gray explores the people and ideas that have shaped Canada, from political leaders to cultural icons, and highlights the key moments that have defined the nation. Through engaging storytelling and meticulous research, she brings to life the challenges, triumphs, and complexities of Canada’s history, offering a fresh perspective on the country’s evolution. With its insightful analysis and compelling narratives, this book about Canadian history is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the rich tapestry of the Canadian experience.

The Vimy Trap: Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War

by Ian McKay and Jamie Swift

The Vimy Trap: Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War by Ian McKay and Jamie Swift is a thought-provoking book on Canadian history that challenges the conventional narrative of the First World War’s significance to Canada. Through meticulous research and compelling analysis, the authors examine how the story of Vimy Ridge has been mythologized and used to shape a national identity. They argue that this myth has overshadowed other important aspects of Canadian history and perpetuated a narrow understanding of the war’s impact. McKay and Swift’s book about Canadian history offers a fresh perspective on the war and its legacy, prompting readers to critically reevaluate their understanding of this pivotal period in Canadian history. This is a must-read for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of Canada’s involvement in the First World War.

The Reason You Walk

by Wab Kinew

The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew is a poignant memoir that delves into the author’s personal journey of reconciliation, healing and understanding of his Indigenous heritage. This powerful and introspective book on Canadian history explores Kinew’s relationship with his father, a residential school survivor, and how it shaped his own identity and worldview. Through his father’s teachings and his own experiences, Kinew reflects on the impact of colonization and the resilience of Indigenous culture. The book also delves into the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada, shedding light on the challenges they have faced and the ongoing efforts towards reconciliation. With its heartfelt storytelling and insightful reflections, The Reason You Walk is a compelling and important contribution to the literature on Canadian history.

The Kids Book of Canada

by Barbara Greenwood

The Kids Book of Canada by Barbara Greenwood is a captivating book on Canadian history that takes young readers on a journey through the rich and diverse tapestry of Canada’s past. From the First Nations and early explorers to modern-day multiculturalism, this book about Canadian history offers a comprehensive and engaging exploration of the people, places, and events that have shaped the country. Through lively storytelling and captivating illustrations, readers will discover the key moments and figures that have defined Canada’s history. Whether it’s learning about the fur trade, Confederation, or the Canadian Pacific Railway, this Canadian history book is a must-read for any young history enthusiast looking to uncover the fascinating stories that have shaped the nation.

The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister

by Peter C. Newman

The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister by Peter C. Newman is a captivating book on Canadian history that offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of politics. Through a series of candid interviews with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Newman presents a revealing portrait of one of Canada’s most controversial leaders. The book delves into Mulroney’s personal and political life, shedding light on the highs and lows of his time in office. With unprecedented access to Mulroney’s unfiltered thoughts and emotions, the author provides an intimate and compelling look at a pivotal period in Canadian history. The Secret Mulroney Tapes is a must-read for anyone interested in the intricacies of political leadership and the complexities of Canadian history.

The Road to Confederation: The Emergence of Canada, 1863-1867

by Donald Creighton

The Road to Confederation: The Emergence of Canada, 1863-1867 by Donald Creighton is a captivating book about Canadian history that delves into the political and social landscape of Canada during the mid-19th century. Creighton skillfully navigates through the events leading up to the Confederation, including the debates, negotiations, and struggles that ultimately shaped the birth of modern Canada. Through meticulous research and engaging storytelling, the author paints a vivid picture of the key figures and pivotal moments that shaped the country’s destiny. This Canadian history book offers a compelling narrative that will appeal to history enthusiasts and anyone interested in understanding the foundations of Canada’s identity. The Road to Confederation is an essential read for those seeking a deeper understanding of the forces that shaped the nation.

The Great Escape: A Canadian Story

by Ted Barris

The Great Escape: A Canadian Story by Ted Barris is a captivating book on Canadian history that recounts the incredible tale of a group of Canadian airmen who participated in the famous Great Escape during World War II. This thrilling book about Canadian history showcases the bravery and resilience of these men as they attempt to break free from a German prisoner of war camp. Ted Barris skillfully weaves together first-hand accounts, historical research, and personal interviews to bring this remarkable story to life. Readers will be immersed in the daring escape attempts, the camaraderie among the prisoners, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. This Canadian history book is a must-read for anyone interested in learning about the courageous contributions of Canadians during this pivotal moment in history.

The Promise of Canada: People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country

by Charlotte Gray

The Promise of Canada by Charlotte Gray is a captivating book on Canadian history that delves into the people and ideas that have shaped the country. Gray explores the diverse individuals who have contributed to Canada’s development, from political leaders to activists, artists, and entrepreneurs. Through engaging storytelling, she highlights the pivotal moments and turning points that have defined the nation, offering a rich tapestry of Canadian history. The book about Canadian history also delves into the ideas that have shaped the country, including multiculturalism, social justice, and environmentalism. Gray’s insightful narrative provides a deeper understanding of Canada’s past and its enduring promise, making it a must-read for anyone interested in Canadian history or seeking a deeper appreciation of the country’s heritage.

The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813

by Pierre Berton

The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813 by Pierre Berton is a riveting book on Canadian history that delves into the War of 1812 and the attempted American invasion of Canada. Berton expertly brings this pivotal moment in Canadian history to life, recounting the battles, strategies, and the key figures involved. Through meticulous research and engaging storytelling, Berton provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of the events that shaped the early years of Canada’s nationhood. This book about Canadian history sheds light on the bravery and sacrifices of the Canadian and Indigenous peoples who defended their land against the American forces. Berton’s vivid narrative and insightful analysis make this Canadian history book a must-read for anyone interested in the rich tapestry of Canada’s past.

A Short History of Canada

by Desmond Morton

A Short History of Canada by Desmond Morton is a fascinating exploration of the rich and diverse tapestry of Canada’s past. This engaging book on Canadian history takes readers on a journey through the key events, people, and influences that have shaped the country into what it is today. Morton skillfully delves into the complexities of Canada’s history, from its Indigenous roots to the arrival of European settlers, the building of the nation, and its modern development. Through vivid storytelling and insightful analysis, readers will gain a deeper understanding of the forces that have shaped Canadian history. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about the story of Canada, this book about Canadian history is an essential read that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the country’s rich heritage.

Canada: A People’s History

by Don Gillmor

Canada: A People’s History, written by Don Gillmor, is a captivating book on Canadian history that delves into the rich tapestry of the country’s past. Gillmor skillfully weaves together the stories of diverse individuals, communities, and events that have shaped the Canadian identity. Through vivid storytelling and meticulous research, he brings to life the triumphs, struggles, and pivotal moments that have shaped the nation. From the early Indigenous peoples to the arrival of European settlers, the book offers a comprehensive and engaging exploration of the Canadian experience. Gillmor’s narrative unfolds with depth and insight, making the reader feel connected to the people and events that have defined the country’s history. This book about Canadian history is a must-read for anyone interested in delving into the captivating and complex story of Canada.

The Kids Book of Canadian History

by Carlotta Hacker

The Kids Book of Canadian History by Carlotta Hacker is an engaging and informative book on Canadian history that takes young readers on a journey through the fascinating and diverse past of Canada. Through captivating storytelling and vivid illustrations, this book about Canadian history brings to life the key events, people, and cultural developments that have shaped the country. From the early Indigenous civilizations to the arrival of European explorers, the founding of Canada, and its evolution into a modern nation, this Canadian history book covers it all. With its interactive activities, fun facts, and timelines, this book is a perfect introduction for children to the rich and dynamic tapestry of Canada’s history.

The Vimy Trap: Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War

by Ian McKay & Jamie Swift

The Vimy Trap: Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War by Ian McKay & Jamie Swift is a thought-provoking book on Canadian history that challenges the traditional narrative surrounding the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The authors delve into the complexities of Canada’s involvement in World War I and its lasting impact on Canadian society and identity. Through meticulous research and compelling analysis, McKay and Swift dismantle myths and misconceptions, offering a fresh and critical perspective on a pivotal moment in Canadian history. This book about Canadian history encourages readers to re-examine long-held beliefs and consider the broader implications of war and nationalism. The Vimy Trap is a must-read for anyone interested in delving deeper into the complexities of Canadian history.

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America

by Thomas King

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King is a thought-provoking book about the history of Indigenous people in North America. It offers a unique and engaging perspective on the complex and often overlooked issues surrounding Indigenous peoples’ experiences. King skillfully weaves together personal anecdotes, historical accounts, and cultural analysis to shed light on the ongoing struggles faced by Indigenous communities. This book on Canadian history challenges readers to reconsider their understanding of the past and present, and to confront the uncomfortable truths that have shaped the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in North America. King’s writing is both informative and entertaining, making this a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of Indigenous experiences in North America.

Conclusion

Exploring the rich tapestry of Canadian History through literature is an enlightening journey. The 20 best books about Canadian history offer a diverse and comprehensive perspective on the country’s past, from its indigenous roots to its modern identity. Whether delving into the struggles of colonization, the complexities of national identity, or the triumphs of social progress, these books provide a captivating and immersive experience for readers eager to understand the nuances of Canada’s history. From scholarly analyses to gripping narratives, these books are essential for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Canada’s past.

Which Canadian History book is best?

The best book on Canadian History can vary with personal preference, but three widely recommended titles are:

  1. The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan,
  2. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden,
  3. The Birth House by Ami McKay.

Each offers valuable insights and could be a great starting point.

What are the best books on Canadian History?

What are the best Canadian History books of all time?