12 Days of CanLit: 10 True-Life Stories

We’re doing a spin on the classic holiday ditty, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with our 12 Days of CanLit series this holiday season. Sing along with our countdown of themed book picks, straight down to our number 1 (that’s 78 books in all!).On the third day of 12 Days of CanLit, All Lit Up highlights 10 True-Life Stories.


Share It:

Was it Oprah who said that everyone has a story? Regardless, we couldn’t agree more. We’ve selected ten memoirs by fascinating Canadians who definitely have a story to tell. While this list just scratches the surface of the true-life stories you can find on All Lit Up, it certainly shows the variety to be found. From travelogues to the writing life to parenting, there really is something for everyone.
by Andrew Struthers (New Star Books)
Filmmaker Andrew Struthers takes you along with him as he travels from his home in British Columbia to Scotland, Africa, and Tibet. In this travel memoir that borrows both language and the visual layout from Victorian travelogues, Struthers explores the differences between Eastern and Western philosophy.
by Stuart Ross (Anvil Press)
In this collection of essays veteran Canadian writer Stuart Ross gives the reader an insider’s view of what it’s actually like to live the life of a writer. Since the late 70s and continuing today, Stuart Ross has been a writer, editor, and publisher and his experience shows in this funny yet realistic memoir.
by Natalie Meisner (Roseway Publishing)
When writer Natalie Meisner and her partner wanted to start a family they needed a little help. They didn’t want to go the anonymous sperm clinic route and so set out on a series of “dates” with potential donors. This often hilarious memoir recounts their experiences to find a donor and have their dream of a family become a reality.
by Heather Menzies (BuschekBooks)
In Entering Mourning, Menzies chronicles her family’s journey as her mother develops and descends into dementia. While caring for her own family she not only has to decide on care for her mother, but also deal with her siblings and her own difficult emotions.
by Ariel Gordon (Palimpsest Press)
Hump is Ariel Gordon’s month-by-month, anti-sentimental collection of poems as she goes through pregnancy and first-time motherhood. Filled with wonder but also devilment at the highs and lows of such a time of change, Hump also has a strong sense of place with the city of Winnipeg.
by Diane Jacobson (Theytus Books)
This is Honey’s story Jacobson. She grew up in the last semi-traditional big house of the Kwagu’l people. The house was filled with her entire family, from aunts and uncles to her grandparents. Once the 1960s came, Western culture overwhelmed Honey’s community and things changed.
by Lisa Anne Smith & Barbara Rogers (Ronsdale Press)
In 1885 West Indian sailor Seraphim “Joe” Fortes arrived in Vancouver and within a few decades became a local legend. As a lifeguard and special constable of English Bay beach, he saved lives and taught generations of children to swim. His legend continues today with one of Vancouver’s libraries named after him.
by Genni Gunn (Signature Editions)
Growing up Gunn’s family travelled frequently, she’s lived and travelled in Italy, Canada, Mexico, and throughout Asia. These early years of wandering instilled in her a desire to travel that continues today. It also had her questioning the impulse to always be in motion while also seeking a home that never existed. In this collection of personal essays, Gunn explores some of these possibilities.
by Balwant Bhaneja (TSAR Publications)
Retired Canadian diplomat Bhaneja travels back to Pakistan to visit his ancestral land of Sindh and Punjab for the first time since he was five. Against the background of the troubled spring of 2006, the reader travels from Islamabad to Lahore and further into Upper Sindh. As Bhaneja retraces his past, he deals with the universal theme of displacement and how our multiple identities shape us. Why do some leave and others stay?
Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme: Tamer Untamed
by Suzanne F. Charron (Scrivener Press; no longer available)
In the 20s, 30s, and 40s, Joe LaFlamme gained the nickname “Wolf Man” by mushing a team of timber wolves down Bay Street, travelling by plane with un-tethered and un-caged wolves, and accompanying his moose to New York City to be on ABC radio. This biography tells this story of this Canadian legend from bootlegging in the bush of Gogama to the bright lights of Broadway with lot of photos and media articles of the day.
Get caught up on our 12 Days of CanLit series here and don’t forget to come back tomorrow — we’re turning up the volume with books all about music!