The Book Club Hub – Local Connection

Every month, a new set of book club titles will be highlighted in The Book Club Hub post. This month features stories with a local connection. In the case of these novels, Thunder Bay is either the hometown of the author or the setting for the story (sometimes even both!). Local readers will be interested to see their city represented, whether behind the pages or right there. Featuring both fiction and nonfiction, there is something here for every book club to enjoy. Here are this month’s selections:


Maud and Me

Maud and Me is an award-winning novel set in the early 1980s in Marathon, Ontario. Nicole LeClair, a middle-aged minister`s wife, has a secret: she receives visits from Lucy Maud Montgomery, also a minister`s wife and famed author of Anne of Green Gables. Since Maud has been dead for four decades, Nicole is insure if this apparition is a vision, a ghost or a hallucination brought on by her own growing malaise. But one thing that she is sure of is that neither her husband Adam, nor the people in their church would approve.

In the early 1980`s, the women`s movement hasn`t yet reached conservative Northwestern Ontario. Nicole deals with her frustrations through her painting and subversive sense of humour, even as she tries outwardly to please everyone: her well-meaning husband Adam, her angry, distant mother, and the congregation of Marathon Community Fellowship. When she becomes desperate for someone who understands, Maud shows up in her garden.

Over cups of tea and long drives along the north shore of Lake Superior, they compare notes and hilarious observations about congregational life. But then news of her father`s death and the discovery of her mother`s betrayal drive Nicole to question everything about her family, her life, and even Maud. Winner of the 2022 Best Fiction Award from The Word Guild.



Seven Fallen Feathers

In 1966, twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. An inquest was called and four recommendations were made to prevent another tragedy. None of those recommendations were applied.

More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home and live in a foreign and unwelcoming city. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred Indigenous site. Jordan Wabasse, a gentle boy and star hockey player, disappeared into the minus twenty degrees Celsius night. The body of celebrated artist Norval Morrisseau’s grandson, Kyle, was pulled from a river, as was Curran Strang’s. Robyn Harper died in her boarding-house hallway and Paul Panacheese inexplicably collapsed on his kitchen floor. Reggie Bushie’s death finally prompted an inquest, seven years after the discovery of Jethro Anderson, the first boy whose body was found in the water.

Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, award-winning investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities.




Set in Finland in 1918 and Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada in the summer of 1955, this novel one extended family through the Finnish Civil War and across the Atlantic.

As the Great War comes to a close, Finland declares its independence on December 6, 1917. Soon thereafter, fighting between Red Finns and White Finns breaks out for control of the country.

Jussi Mantere and his friends, the Solbakkens–Anders, Karl, and young Ivor, known as Rabbit–as well as Karl’s wife, Viktoria, are swept into the fighting. When peace is declared after months of fighting that pits neighbour against neighbour, friend against friend, the price of mending the fractured country is silence. To heal and forget, both victor and vanquished, White and Red, are asked to not speak of the war.

Jussi and other survivors emigrate to Canada, bringing their silence with them. In Port Arthur’s summer of 1955, events set in motion in 1918 come to haunt Jussi’s family. A stranger–or is it someone he knows?–threatens their peace and safety. Jussi must decide whether and how to break his silence about the past and its horrors, and spare his grandson the bitter burden of generations-old resentments.



The Beggar's Garden

Brilliantly sure-footed, strikingly original, tender and funny, this memorable collection of nine linked stories follows a diverse group of curiously interrelated characters— from bank manager to crackhead to retired Samaritan to mental patient to web designer to car thief — as they drift through each other’s lives like ghosts in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside.

These darkly comic and intoxicating stories, gleefully free of moral judgment, are about people searching in the jagged margins of life—for homes, drugs, love, forgiveness. They range from the tragically funny opening story “Emergency Contact” to the audacious, drug-fuelled rush of “Goodbye Porkpie Hat” to the deranged and thrilling extreme of “King Me.”

The Beggar’s Garden is a powerful and affecting debut, written with an exceptional eye and ear and heart.

Whether you’re looking for a fictional story or something from our true history, these four choices will provide your book club with plenty of discussion, questions and important conversations. TBPL carries many titles by local authors that you can enjoy as well!

Not in a book club? No problem! These books are also available as single copies in our online catalogue.

Book descriptions via GoodReads