By Will Ferguson
In my never ending search for a funny book, I came across Will Ferguson’s latest offering.
I knew it would qualify, having read, Why I Hate Canadians and Bastards and Boneheads, the latter being a treatise on our elected representatives, always a co-operative target.
The title of the book comes, of course, from a rewriting of the song, bye bye Miss American pie. The change begins like this: Bye bye Miss Canadian Pie drove my ski-doo to the Rideau but the Rideau was dry . . . and continues with references to Molsons and Rye.
The truth is that Will Ferguson loves Canada and Canadians; this book covers 15 years of wandering our country. He sees it’s beauty, especially in Yuquot Cove, on Nootka Island, in Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island.
I said the book was funny, and it is, but this author see’s people and history and old growth forest. He lulls you with the beauty of it all and then slips in, the cougar who followed me home . . . or the tame harbour seal named Charlie, who acts like the neighbourhood dog.
Next we go to Dawson City, Yukon. It was the largest city west of Winnipeg and North of San Francisco in 1899. Now a tourist town, featuring dance halls and fire weed, but full of history.
Ferguson likes history and should be teaching it, since all these stops provide a refresher course in our country’s past.
Now he takes us to Duck Lake. A Cree-French-Metis town, which, he says, naturally has a Chinese café. We review the story of Batoche and climb the hill to the abandoned Church, where the wind blows the grass and only memories remain.
What’s more Canadian than Anne, this part of the book is my favourite, because what’s not to like about Prince Edward Island? There are 20 cities in Canada with more people than Prince Edward Island., so how did it become a Province, when Vancouver and Cape Breton didn’t? The reasons are fun and worth reading about when related by Will Ferguson.
Many of these pieces have been written by Will, and published in other places. They are “slices” of the Canadian Pie; from the covered bridges of New Brunswick to the sandstone edifices of Calgary, he covers the map and the events. Here are reminiscences of Preston Manning, and Lord Black “formerly of Canada.”
The Vancouver 2010 Closing Ceremonies, brings a change of tone, to the last part of the book, and gives those of us on the outside, a look at how it all comes together.
A section called Japanese Encounters springs from his time spent in Japan. The Last Kamikaze has a special poignancy which is Will Ferguson at his very best.
The only glitch in this book is the inclusion of a Soap Opera which, by his own admission, flopped. No surprise there. Still funny books are rare and this one is highly entertaining. A good first read for a New Year.
Peggy Freeman is a freelance writer living in Red Deer.